10 Best Asian Action Movies

Tuesday, November 30 by Travis Petersen

The ten best Asian action movies are over-the-top and chaotic in a way Western action films are not. They are more daring and often more stylish, and have had quite an influence in the United States, as many directors have tried to imitate the flamboyance of the best Asian action movies. The truth of the matter is, these movies can be imitated but never duplicated. Here are the ten best Asian action movies of all time.

  1. "The Killer" – Hong Kong director John Woo's ballet of bullets, blood, and slow motion is a story of honor and friendship above all. The supercharged, stylized action sequences raise it from mere melodrama to violent art, making it the top entry on this list of the ten best Asian action movies.
  2. "Oldboy" – This Korean revenge story is known more for its twist ending than its action. That's a shame, because it is easily one of the ten best Asian action movies of all time, with its famous one-take fight scene, with the protagonist taking revenge with only a hammer to aid him, taking the cake.
  3. "Battle Royale" – A strange Japanese film mixing the awkwardness of high-school with the violence of post-apocalypse, "Battle Royale" pits teenagers against one another in an island battle to the death. Unique action, amazing deaths, and a strangely sentimental plot make it one of the best Asian action movies ever.
  4. "Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior" – The lone Thai entry on this list of the best Asian action movies, "Ong-Bak" is an instant martial arts classic. It rivals Hong Kong's kung fu classics for sheer fist-of-fury mayhem.
  5. "The Bride With White Hair" - A swordplay epic and a love story, "Bride" is also one of the ten best Asian action movies of all time. The magic of ancient martial arts and star-crossed love duel with slashing swords and jets of blood on the center stage of this amazing film.
  6. "Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance" – The first film of the "Lone Wolf and Cub" series, pitting a disgraced ronin against armies of enemies, with only his baby boy at his side, is a classic of film violence. Its fights make it one of the ten best Asian action movies ever, and its over-the-top bloodletting has made it a cult classic across the world.
  7. "A Better Tomorrow" – John Woo's first gangster film began his, and Chow Yun-Fat's, reign at the top of Asian action cinema. It is another ballet of bullets, blood, and flying doves.
  8. "Ninja Scroll" – This anime classic is the genre's best pure action film. Gorgeously drawn and animated, it feels as visceral as any live-action piece, making it one of the best Asian action movies ever.
  9. "Time and Tide" – Director Tsui Hark's late period masterpiece mixes gunplay and martial arts with fantastic stunts. It is the most recent example of Hong Kong's action greatness on this list.
  10. "Zatoichi" – Takeshi Kitano's take on the story of the legendary blind swordsman, "Zatoichi" is a bloody, gritty swordplay film. Slick, stylish, and a little bit crazy, it is the perfect capper for this list of the ten best Asian action movies of all time.

Additional Resources:

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance on IMDB

A Better Tomorrow on IMDB

Ninja Scroll on IMDB

Time and Tide on IMDB

Zatoichi on IMDB