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Added by The Mighty Celestial on 10 Jun 2008 03:20
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WAATAAAH!! My Top 20 Favorite Martial Arts Flix!

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One my biggest idols when I was growing up was Bruce Lee. I loved martial arts and I loved watching his movies. However, I was always very frustrated that outside of the Young Dragons films, the only other options for kung fu cinema were mostly low budget, low quality “chopsocky flix that ran on local access TV channels. It seemed like that when it came to any kind of martial arts motion picture, the overall mindset was that writing and production had to be sacrificed for the sake of the wall to wall action. That you couldn’t have even halfway intelligent scripts or quality sets along with fury fist flying fight scenes.
But then along came “wuxia”, a subgenre of the martial arts genre, which featured Shakespeare style storylines, with quality written melodrama, engaging romance, fully fleshed out characters, all top out with a floaty, fantasy-like fighting style and that to wrap everything up as a cinematic piece of art.

The most well known of this kind of Eastern brand of movie making is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. But my personal favorite is this one, House of Flying Daggers. Taking all the elements that distinguishes wuxia from the rest of the pack, Daggers employs a beautiful story of love and intrigue, combined with lavish costumes, great performances and unique individually themed action sequences to elevate the martia; arts genre above the kampy karate reputation that bogged it down from mainstream respectability for so long.
The movie that practically introduced the West to the trend of wuxia-style film-making.

A martial arts film that decides that it's not going to be one.
Many forms of physical combat like to brag of itself as being a form of violent ballet, but Crouching Tiger Hidden dragon is one that just wants to portray it martial arts as an art tool that blends into the majesty of the story's theme of honor, love and wisdom, that this film ends up laying claim to that dance-metaphor that the other fighting films wish they could be truly worthy of.
No character in this film, no matter how small, is colored in the simple black and white colors of good & evil, and all are duty bound by a personal sense of honor. And both men and women are equally capable in either masterfully full contact engagement or scaling the walls & even the very air in gravity defying leaps that serve more to enhance the fable-like atmosphere of the story.
Intelligent, straightforward and "martially artistic", Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is a pure fun action flick merged into a story whose simplicity is hidden behind the human depth of a group of characters who believe their respective situations to be truly epic.
People who added this item 1076 Average listal rating (742 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6
forget all those stupid Chuck Norris internet memes that you see running ridiculously rampant all over the world wide web. He's nuthin' but a milquetoast martial arts mockery whose so-called brass balls could never hope to stand up against Bruce Lee's raging fists of fury.
You really want to see what badd-ass 100% kickassery looks like in it's purest form?
Exit the Texas Ranger.
Enter The Dragon.

People who added this item 2060 Average listal rating (1401 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.9
A martial arts movie with beautifully colored fighting themes, an actual purpose in it's plot-line and more arrows than some metaphor that would contain a point about many more arrows that any situation would ever deem necessary.
An epic kung-fu flick that is way more poetic than this or any other description of Hero could ever hope to be.

People who added this item 233 Average listal rating (126 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.5
Iron Monkey (1993)

Monkey see, Monkey fu.

People who added this item 557 Average listal rating (352 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
Back during my college days, the whole time that I was enrolled, I probably consumed enough beer so as to qualify me as some sort of a drunken master.
But through my lack of training and discipline, I was never enough of a master to be able to fight in any kind of a kung fu battle whilst in this alleviated state of inebriation. Particularly in any manner that allowed me to use every piece of furniture, silverware &/or knick-knacks that was in my immediate disposal in a cool offensive style like Jackie Chan does in this movie.
But, I was always drunk enough to at least think I could.

People who added this item 306 Average listal rating (211 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 5.9

Even though Enter The Dragon and Fist Of Fury often interchange with this movie as far as my being my favorite Bruce Lee film, Game Of Death is the one that I find myself watching the most.
Maybe it's because, with since it actually remains unfinished (in my eyes, the post-Lee parts don't count... ) it leaves plenty of room for interpretation on what could have been.
After Lee's death, martial arts genre took a real nose dive as far as the kind of quality and especially the kind of integrity that Bruce seemed to be striving for.
And while lately, the genre has taken many strides forward as far as being taken more seriously as a cinematic art-form, watching the ideas that Bruce set upon this early "kung fu flick" always make me wonder about the potential that the original Dragon must have dreamed about & hoped for.

People who added this item 478 Average listal rating (313 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4

Now while I agree with most people that (Legend Of The) Drunken Master II was technically a better and more masterful movie, this film is the beginning, and my favorite one featuring Jackie Chan's comedic style of "combat". There are still times when I watch the action scenes of DM and they still seem as energetic, cool and creatively crazy today as back when this first came out.
And to this day, there are many times when those alcoholic induced martial arts moves inspire me to think "I bet I could fight like that too."
If I was drunk.
Really drunk.

I had heard of Zatoichi, but never bothered looking up anything about this long-lasting character of the East. I stumbled on this DVD, and found myself enjoying it so much, that the end result was multiple viewings with no diminishment in enjoyment. The movie, just like the series of an earlier time, follows the latest adventure of a mystery traveler commonly referred to as the "blind masseuse", who in actuality is a gentle samurai warrior who's lone wolf journeys could've well been the inspiration of the Italian counter-part, "Man With No Name" of spaghetti western fame. Silent, noble and despite his blindness, the ability to see with more clarity, not just the world around him, but also the will and intentions contained within the hearts of all he encounters.
A great classic character of the Japanese tradition.

People who added this item 89 Average listal rating (43 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.5

At first glance, this looked like a B-style action-flick that was just too goofy for me. But as I watched it, it became more like a movie that seem to sufficiently balance between the lines of well-crafted high-fantasy credibility and a comic-book-like story-line. And also at the same time, between epic wuxia style battle moves and cheesy yet energetically fun kung-fu camp.
And at the center, tying all these almost conflicting themes together are three high-flying colorful female warriors whose chemistry made it impossible for me not to fall in love with each one of them. This trio of hot Asian super-heroines who fight crime with such cool moves and kick-ass sultry outfits are so sexy, that it makes my pimp-ass want to do sumthin villainous just for the spanking.
Plus, I defy any one not to "loose their head" over the villainous Kau and his throwing "skull-cage" on a chain.
While I realize that this isn't really considered a maverick of this field,for me, the charisma between these well-rounded & distinct characters was enuff to hook me into this non-guilty guilty pleasure.

People who added this item 209 Average listal rating (123 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
A porn flick that has to be seen to be believed. This is one of those rare cases where the term "legend" is not used loosely. And neither is the fist.

Oh wait....
I think I might be getting this mixed up with another movie from a completely different genre......
People who added this item 6240 Average listal rating (4460 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
After this movie came out, could you feel it?
Could you feel the idea and use of special effects in the entire sci-fi genre take a major step forward?
I know I did.

People who added this item 2131 Average listal rating (1465 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3

For me, this is kind of like a "The Matrix Unloaded".
A very stunningly stylish movie that features action sequences that any martial arts or straight-up action flick would be proud to call it's own. And even tho the story, like The Matrix, seems like it can lose it's audience every couple of turns and again, it does have a more solid and linear structure, making it is possible for the viewer to get back onto understanding it's premise.
And I liked that since Equilibrium did not have the big budget that it's computer themed bigger succeeding cousin had, that it came up with a concept called "Gun Kata", to allow for the insane bullet hails that make these types of gun-toting movies the kind that could cause even the hardiest NRA member to bust his own cap.

People who added this item 2838 Average listal rating (1843 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.2
Despite it's name, this is obviously a movie isn't exactly the type that is usually categorized in the genre of "martial arts films".
The fight sequences of this film are much more down to earth & not of the gravity-defying level of the comicbook-like uber-moves that we are used to an actual chop suey kung fu flick (I know, I know....karate & kung fu are two separate things....but you know what I'm saying...). But I include here on this list of personal fu favorites just b'cuz it does a great job of showcasing the initial steps of learning this style of fighting. And not just on a physical level, but also (& probabably, more importantly), on a psychological level as well.

People who added this item 353 Average listal rating (180 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
Before there was Beatrice Kiddo, the Bride, waking up after her supposed death and staining the snow with blood in Kill Bill vol. 1*,
there was Yuki Kashima, aka Lady Snowblood, doing the exact same thing. But unlike the Bride, who did it as a homage to the Pinky Violence genre, Lady S did it as the originator of these kinds of story themes and was an early entry into the field of female film bad-assery.

*(For any fans of the Kill Bill films, the battle scene where Kiddo goes Hanzo sword to Hanzo sword with O-Ren Isgii was inspired by this movie.)
People who added this item 100 Average listal rating (69 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.8
Prince's ex-nasty girl, Vanity teams up with a dragon that can catch bullets with his teeth.

People who added this item 7950 Average listal rating (5766 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.2

Only two words can be used to describe this movie: Bad @ss.
Not only is this Quentin's homage to martial arts flix, but it also includes homage's to anime & those funky, grainy 70's Bruce Lee's wannabe's that made us laugh with their unsynchronized voice-overs, jagged camera movements & b-level musical sound effects. And yet, he was able to combine all this in a manner that was just plain...
... bad-@ss.
Oh, & by the way,
out of sheer curiosity, I just performed the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique on myself, just to see if it works. Now, as I post this, I have just completed taking the 5 steps forward, & am now waiting to see if anything will actually happ

The title of this thread says it all.

Runners Up:
Brotherhood Of The Wolf.

Other lists by The Mighty Celestial:

My Top 20 Female Movie Bad-Asses www.listal.com/list/my-top-10-female

10 Movies That Feature A Dancin' Travolta In 'Em www.listal.com/list/my-list-9158

My Top 15 Guilty Pleasure Movies www.listal.com/list/guilty-pleasures-thecelestial

Can't We Be Dysfunctional Like A Normal Family? www.listal.com/list/dysfunctional-family-movies

A - Z

My Favorite Movies By Genre:

Science Fiction:
- When Aliens Attack ....Or At Least, Go Bad www.listal.com/list/aliens-attack-at-least-go
- Aliens Who Come In Peace www.listal.com/list/good-aliens
- Sci Fi Faves Of Like....Ever. www.listal.com/list/scifi-movies

- Run For Your Lives! My 25 Fave Giant Monster Films www.listal.com/list/my-top-10-favorite-giant

- Superhero Movies www.listal.com/list/yep-am-huge-comicbook
- Non-Superhero Movies www.listal.com/list/my-favorite-nonsuperhero-comicbook-movies

My Top Favorite Westerns, Pard'ner www.listal.com/list/westerns-thecelestial

- Romantic Comedies www.listal.com/list/my-top-30-romantic-comedies
- Straight-Up Romance www.listal.com/list/romance-movies

- 3D www.listal.com/list/animate-this-my-favorite-animated
- 2D www.listal.com/list/my-favorite-animated-movies-thecelestial

- From Around The World www.listal.com/list/my-top-10-favorite-foriegn

My Top Favorite Movies By Year:

Lists by decades:
Of all time:

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