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The 411 Movies Top 5: The Top 5 Martial Arts Movies

January 24, 2016 | Posted by Shawn S. Lealos

The 411 Movies Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Movies Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week’s topic…

The Top 5 Martial Arts Movies
5. REVENGE OF THE NINJA – Hell yeah. The ultimate in 80’s b-movie ninja action. This movie gives you what you want right off the bat, as a team of ninja slaughter a family, and lay in wait for the father, Sho, to come home. However, because he’s a real man, he senses things are quiet, TOO quiet and primes himself for some good ol’ fashion ninja 10-on-1 action. From there we have fights in vans driving down the street, children’s parks, with ninja grandmothers, and hypnotized girlfriends. The final fight between Sho & Braden is one of the all time greats in this humble writer’s opinion.

4. ENTER THE DRAGON – The movie that caused a cultural explosion. Seriously, this movie is solely responsible for martial arts becoming popular here in the West, and for good reason. As Williams says “Man, you come right out of a comic-book”, which fits the entire film’s cast of characters. From Bruce Lee’s humble, but-on-a-mission-of-revenge’s sly character, to the womanizing, gambling addict Roper, the too-cool-for-school Williams [who whoops on cops and takes their ride, baby], the punishment-machine Bolo, and finally, the man who never needs a hand, Han. This film is packed with awesome scenes, dialogue, and of course action. It stands as Bruce’s masterpiece, and for good reason. Had he gone on living another 50 years, I don’t know if he would have ever topped it.

3. KISS OF THE DRAGON – I remember dragging my friends to this because the trailer looked cool. Thing was with my friends, if you decided on the movie, and it sucked, you were hounded for days, maybe even weeks. But if it was good, you were a King. And good sir, I was a King for quite a while. Kiss of the Dragon comes from action cinema God himself, Luc Besson [Transporter series, Unleashed, Taken] and has all the markings of fantastic martial-arts based, action cinema. You’ve got the girl being forced to do something by a soulless bad guy, and said bad guy has a team of like-minded henchmen who are cool with rampant slaughter, and of course, martial arts trained right-hand man, or men in this case. The plot is simple, the acting is great, the action is superb, and the fight scenes are incredible. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this, I envy you, because I wish I could go into it fresh.

2. BLOODSPORT – Some films are trend setters, and Bloodsport is just that, as it started the late 80’s/early 90’s trend of the martial arts films that took place in some sorta tournament. While Enter The Dragon may have been the first, it wasn’t until Bloodsport that it became mainstream. Just like Kickboxer would soon start the trend of damn near every martial arts b-movie having the word “kickboxer” in the title. Bloodsport was able to start the trend for one simple reason; the movie is fucking awesome. It blends the right amount of cheesiness with some great fight scenes, even better characters, and a sweet soundtrack. It’s everything you could ever want in a martial arts film, and was so often duplicated that even JCVD himself cloned it with The Quest.

1. THE PROTECTOR – Look, other films might have better characters, or better plots, but there’s one thing I can tell you they won’t have: more, or better fight scenes. No joke, out of the total running time of this film, I bet 80% of it is fight scenes, and they’re all AMAZING. As it stands, Tony Jaa’s two elephants were taken by a vicious gang, and he’s made it his mission to get them back. From there we have an incredible fight scene against X-Games competitors, a single-take fight scene that goes up 3 flights that ends in another fight scene, an awesome fight scene that goes through three different styles of fighting opponents, and act three that sees Tony Jaa break the bones of about 50 men before going on to fight dudes who are as big as houses. For your buck, you will absolutely never get more bang than with The Protector, it’s simply amazing.

5. BLOODSPORT – This is Jean-Claude Van Damme’s first major star vehicle and the first movie that I remember seeing concerning a karate tournament that didn’t involve the Karate Kid. I was surprised at how badass and, to a certain extent, funny the whole thing was. Van Damme was a natural action movie star who was brutal and balletic while fighting, and the camera loved him. Throw in Ogre hisself, Donald Gibb, from Revenge of the Nerds and suddenly you have a movie that couldn’t possibly fail. And it really doesn’t. It still holds up today. The movie also made me despise Bolo Yeung, the flick’s dastardly villain. Up until a few years ago I had no idea that Forrest Whitaker was in the movie and that the movie is based on a true story. Frank Dux was a real guy.

4. THE RAID 2 – In terms of modern day big hooha martial arts action flicks, you don’t get much bigger or intense as The Raid 2, written and directed by Gareth Evans. It basically picks up where the first The Raid ended, and then goes even bigger in terms of its fights and intensity. And when main character Rama is undercover and in prison, beating back his fellow inmates and thuggish prison guards while in a giant mud pit, it’s nothing short of amazing. I mean, the fights in general in this movie are breathtaking, and the action scenes are insane, too (the automatic handgun to the head scene is a personal favorite). The subway fight with the Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man is awesome, and then Rama taking on both of them, sheer brilliance. And the final fight in the kitchen, holy hooey. I can’t wait for the third one, whenever it happens.

3. THE DRAGON MISSILE – This is the first Shaw Brothers kung fu movie I watched on the El Rey Network, the new home for kung fu movies on cable. I had only seen a few Shaw Brothers movies up until I saw The Dragon Missile, and now I make an effort to watch as many kung fu classics as I can on TV. The Dragon Missile is a movie about a badass assassin who has to find a special herb to cure his master’s gross back sickness (he has a boil or a tumor or something on his back). The assassin uses these big flying boomerang blade things to take down anyone in his way, and he uses them quite often throughout the movie. When the assassin finally gets the herb he is attacked/chased by a young man and woman who want revenge. The boomerang missiles never seem to miss, and we get to see plenty of hilarious decapitations. I’m shocked this doesn’t have a 1980’s American remake. It’s just begging for a remake. And it’s begging to be seen again. I’m sure El Rey will have it on again soon enough.

2. REVENGE OF THE NINJA – The great Sho Kosugi stars in this badass ninja flick, the second in the “Cannon Ninja Trilogy” and easily one of the, if not the, best ninja movie ever made. Kosugi, who played the ninja villain in Enter the Ninja, is the good guy this time out, trying to live a life of peace and solitude in America with his young son and mother. However, Kosugi’s friend, Braden, is just using him and his Japanese doll business to smuggle drugs, and Kosugi isn’t down for that. Braden, an American ninja master that wears a spooky silver mask with his ninja outfit, is a piece of crap that kidnaps Kosugi’s son and beats up Kosugi’s hot blonde girlfriend, so you just know that he’s going to have to die. The ninja action is non-stop, and the final fight between Kosugi and Braden is one of the greatest fights in movie history. Oh, man, if you haven’t seen this movie, either ever or in a good long while, track it down and check it out. You won’t regret it one goddamn bit. “Only a ninja can kill a ninja.” Indeed.

1. FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH – Also known as King Boxer, Five Fingers of Death is the movie that started the kung fu movie thing in the United States in the 1970’s and is considered to the template for every kung fu movie that followed it. Basically, it’s a movie about a martial arts student who trains under a badass master so he can fight in a big tournament and prevent a gang of criminals from winning the contest. It plods a bit by modern standards but has enough kung fu awesomeness in it to get you through the slow spots. This movie also features glowing hands, something that The Last Dragon sort of parodied in the 1980’s. If you haven’t seen this original kung fu movie, do yourself a favor and track it down. It’s well worth checking out.

YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLSList your Top Five for this week’s topic in the comment section using the following format:

5. CHOICE: Explanation
4. CHOICE: Explanation
3. CHOICE: Explanation
2. CHOICE: Explanation
1. CHOICE: Explanation