Foreign Action and Martial Arts Films Every Man Must Watch at Least Once

Guys tend to love martial arts films, so if you’re a guy who is a diehard fan of foreign action and martial arts movies, there are a few you absolutely have to see. Whether you watch movies online or on a TV set, you need to add these movies to your list ASAP.

 Bruce Lee Statue by Karen Rousseau on Flickr.

Bruce Lee Statue by Karen Rousseau on Flickr.

“Red Cliff”

“Red Cliff” is a movie based on the War of the Red Cliffs, set in China around 208 and 209 A.D. It runs for about six hours. It starts out with enough action to pique your interest right away and you’ll immediately be pulled along by the characters in the movie. There isn’t much action in the middle of the movie, but the various characters’ ingenuity makes it a pleasure to watch.


Released in 2004, this wuxia movie stars some of the best martial arts film actors to hit the screen including Jet Li, Zhang Ziyi and Donnie Yen. While it may be too unrealistic for hardcore martial arts fans, the wuxia style of movie makes it enjoyable for those who love over-the-top action. The ending will leave you surprised and the story draws you in as you watch the adventures of Nameless, the movie’s “hero.”


Based loosely on the life of Chinese martial artist Huo Yuanjia, this movie is an enjoyable film for action movie lovers. The unique fighting will have you on edge the entire movie and you’ll love the various Western opponents Jet Li’s character faces. It is one of the best of Jet Li’s newer releases and you’ll easily follow the plot without subtitles.

“Ip Man”

“Ip Man” is a based on Yip Man, the man responsible for training martial arts legend Bruce Lee. It depicts the events that led to the grandmaster’s development of Wing Chun — his unique martial art — and it is a fascinating insight into life in China in the Sino-Japanese War. Donnie Yen plays the title character, with Sammo Hung and Simon Yam as entertaining supporting characters.

“Ong Bak”

For those unfamiliar with Tony Jaa and his powerful Muay Thai strikes, this is the movie to watch. “Ong Bak” put Tony Jaa in the limelight and gave rise to the popularity of Muay Thai — one of the primary arts used in MMA today. Few actors embody their fighting art like Tony Jaa and the movie gives you a glimpse into Muay Thai.

“The Drunken Master”

Jackie Chan has entertained the world since he hit Hollywood, but Chinese audiences were laughing at his antics long before “A Rumble in the Bronx.” “The Drunken Master” was released in 1978 and it is one of the most successful of Jackie Chan’s movies — both in China and the United States. The film showcased the “Drunken Fist” style of fighting that is humorous and effective, and it defined him as a comedian-martial artist, giving him his persona when he arrived in Hollywood.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

Another wuxia film, this movie was released in the early 2000s to great acclaim. It restored Chinese martial arts films’ popularity in the United States and the Western world, thanks to actors like Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. The fight scenes make the storyline more enjoyable, too.

“Way of the Dragon”

Bruce Lee meets Chuck Norris: What more can be said? There are few martial arts films as famous as this one, despite its several pitfalls such as poor acting and subpar plot. Just seeing Bruce Lee’s fighting is a treat and him defeating Chuck Norris is a battle royal no other movie has.

About the Author: As a lover of martial arts movies and a martial artist himself, Zach George writes about anything related to martial arts. He studied these films growing up in an attempt to improve his fighting style.

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Posted by on May 3, 2013. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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10 Responses to Foreign Action and Martial Arts Films Every Man Must Watch at Least Once

  1. James Smith

    May 3, 2013 at 7:38 am

    A Chuck Norris film few have even heard about is “Slaughter in San Francisco (even though it was shot in Hong Kong) It’s really a terrible movie and the only one in which Norris really played a bad guy. It was part of a contractual obligation made when he was first starting a career in films but was still well-known for being world karate champion six consecutive times.

    This film does not appear in any of his official biographies but I have it. 🙂

  2. rowdy62

    May 3, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Never a big fan of martial arts flicks. I could believe in hobbits, but not guys who fly through the air kicking and chopping.

    • James Smith

      May 3, 2013 at 10:44 am

      I once asked Chuck Norris (I was in his MA Association) why the fight scenes in movies were so far removed from what happens in real life. He was very honest. He said, “If the were as quick and simple as in real life, who would pay to watch them?”

      He had a good point.

  3. Jess

    May 3, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Kung Fu Hustle is another good one. It’s a comedy martial arts movie but well worth the watch. If you watch it when you have a buzz, it makes it even funnier. AYUP, some of the ladeez like martial arts movies too Mike 😉

  4. Efrain La Salle

    May 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    “Reign of Asasin” needs to be on the list. A really good movie.

  5. Bill Formby

    May 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    I would also have to add “Enter The Dragon”. It has some good fight scenes in it.

    James, Bruce Lee never competed in professional karate fighting, but if he had do you think he could have taken Chuck Norris.I have always believed that they could have sold out any arena anywhere for that fight. I know one problem was that they would have been in different weight classes but I would have still paid to see it.

    • James Smith

      May 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Bill, that’s an excellent question. I actually asked Chuck Norris that and he was of the opinion that tournament fighting was a rather specialized thing and he doubts that the awesome level of Bruce Lee’s technique (Norris’ words) would have been enough. He also said that no one trained harder than Bruce Lee. After having been nearly killed in different workouts with Norris, I had to wonder what Bruce Lee did to gain that level of respect from Chuck Norris.

      Chuck Norris also added that in a “for real” fight, he isn’t so sure that Bruce would have come out second best. His speed was incredible and his power (largely a function of speed) would have been a wonder to behold.

      With Bruce Lee, you can forget about weight classes. Better to worry about survival.

      • Bill Formby

        May 3, 2013 at 8:02 pm

        lol Personally I would not wanted to tangle with either of them in a “for real” fight. Having witnessed some people that I thought had unbelievable speed and then think about the fact that compared to Bruce Lee they were probably slow boggles my mind. I actually met Chuck Norris once and have watched him fight on film and there wasn’t anything slow about him but he had tremendous power.

        • James Smith

          May 3, 2013 at 8:15 pm

          I nearly had my picture in Black Belt magazine impaled upon Chuck’s fist. It was at a national convention and he was using me to demonstrate a technique to another black belt. I was supposed to move when I saw him coming.

          I moved, but on the end of his fist, arms and lags spread like a frog for dissection. I had to beg and plead with the magazine photographer not to use the picture. He declined but the shot (luckily for me) did not turn out well. Wile I would have liked to have been pictured in the magazine with him, that was not the image I wanted to project to my own students.

          You can see a nicer picture at 3:07 in this video.

          I’m James Smith and I approve this video.

          • Michael John Scott

            May 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

            I enjoyed those pictures James. You can certainly be proud.