10 Best Indian Martial Arts Movies
The 10 best Indian martial arts movies can be alternately described as good, fun, silly, ridiculous, bad and downright horrible. Some are serious films that any martial arts fan will love, while others are so bad they rival Peter Sellers for comedic value.
“Krrish” is a Bollywood martial arts film that is most easily described as “Batman Begins” meets “The Matrix” on acid in a vaguely gay disco. Make of that what you will; it’s also the best Indian martial arts film. There an a number of insane fight scenes in this superhero caper, which combine bizarre humor, psychedelic visuals and amazing close ups.
“Chandni Chowk to China,” one of the best Indian martial arts films, is a loving send-up of martial arts and Bollywood cinema that features the acting talents of Hong Kong action star Gordon Liu and marquee Bollywood performers Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone. Filmed primarily in China, “Chandni” is about an Indian street vendor believed to be the reincarnation of a Chinese war hero.
“Drona” is one of the best Indian martial art movies for its liberal use of myriad disciplines, including Kalaripayat, Chhau, Gatka, and swor fighting. The movie plays a high stakes game. According to the official publicity material, it concerns a secret that “if unraveled, could unlock the destruction of mankind and the entire cosmos.” And there’ singing and dancing, too.
“Desi DNA: Gatka” packs enough spirituality, history and sword play into its six-minute running time to qualify as one of the top ten Indian martial arts films. This short BBC documentary examines British practitioners of the ancient Sikh martial art gatka while examining the history and spirituality of the discipline.
“The Myth” is a Jackie Chan film that takes place between China and India. It is an epic historical drama that explores the influence of Indian religion and martial arts on Chinese combat practices. Indeed, it was an Indian monk who introduced the idea of martial arts to the Shaolin Temple, which in turn created kung fu.
“Karate” is, even by Bollywood standards, totally ridiculous. This 1983 martial arts film is so bad it might as well be a farce; surely only a chosen few can take it seriously. Many of the scenes in “Karate” are stolen directly from Bruce Lee films, and the movie is inaccurate enough to present Chinese martial arts—wushu, mostly—under a Japanese name—“Karate.” But it’s a riotous good time.
“Rocky” is a ham-fisted Hindi epic with a heart of gold. One of the top 10 Indina martial arts movies, it with a spiraling helicopter shot of its titular character sat on the top of a mountain and continues through numbers scenes of Rocky using various martial arts, mostly variations of Indian boxing, to beat the crap out of morally reprehensible cretins.
“Don: The Chase Begins Again” is a remake of a 1978 Hindi blockbuster. The film delves into the Southeast Asian drug trade and uses the talents of actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra to great effect. In addition to being a pleasant face, Chopra is versed in martial arts and hands out a number of ass-whoppings in her quest for justice.
“Dhoom” is a trilogy of films, the third of which is in production as of 2011. These movies feature a number of fight scenes, and though the focus is not always on martial arts choreography, there are some stunning moments of ass whoppage. In “Dhoom” you will also find motorcycle chases, mysterious thieves, high-end casinos action and more.
“Elaan” is a 1994 Bollywood revenge film about a police officer who declares war on a group of gang lords. Rather than the beautiful, balletic martial arts western audiences expect of Asian cinema, "Elaan" presents a melee of battle that reduces the notion of martial arts to its most basic premise—destroy or be destroyed.