10 Best Chinese Kung Fu Movies

Friday, August 5 by Travis Petersen

Kung fu is the primary form of martial art from China, and the 10 best Chinese kung fu movies demonstrate the form in a number of ways, from the humorous to the serious, violent to slapstick. Stars like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Gordon Liu are famous the world over, but they began their work in some of the 10 best Chinese kung fu movies. Here are some favorites, both popular and obscure; the best Chinese kung fu movies for fans and neophytes.

  1. "Fist of Fury." Bruce Lee is the greatest martial arts film star of all time, though he only appeared in a few films. This was his first major role, and this story of a young man seeking vengeance for the death of his teacher is both simple and perfect. His acrobatics and speed were so much the camera could barely contain him in this first entry in the 10 best Chinese kung fu movies.
  2. "Drunken Master II." Jackie Chan starred in the original "Drunken Master" as Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, who will make another appearance on this list of the best Chinese kung fu movies. Here, he co-stars and co-directs with Liu Chia-Liang, who actually studied martial arts with a student of the true Wong Fe Hung. This story has Wong able to fight best when drunk, and demonstrates the skills of both Chan and his elder, Liu, as they fight oppressive occupying forces.
  3. "Dragons Forever." This modern-day film has Jackie Chan as a lawyer enlisting his pals (his foste brothers Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, great martial artists in their own right) to fight a pollution-pushing corporation. Needless to say, the fights leave the courtroom in this team-up of great martial arts stars.
  4. "Once Upon a Time in China." A more serious take on the Wong Fei Hung story introduced many to Wu Shu master Jet Li, actually Shaolin-trained in the martial arts. His epic fighting during the Boxer Rebellion fuels the fire of this, one of the best Chinese kung fu movies ever.
  5. "Fong Sai Yuk." Here Li plays a more playful Chinese folk hero, the title character. As he acts as the Robin Hood of China, his martial arts prowess makes this one of the best Chinese kung fu films ever.
  6. "Five Deadly Venoms." Kung fu films became popular worldwide in the 1970s, partially due to this film, in which five fighters with different skills team up to defeat their enemies. It is the quintessential chopsocky adventure.
  7. "Police Story 3: Supercop." Jackie Chan is the titular "supercop," but that title could also go to co-star Michelle Yeoh, a Malaysian-born beauty who matches Chan in fists and feet of fury, not to mention stunts. This modern-day actioner is truly one of the best Chinese kung fu movies of the modern era.
  8. "8 Diagram Pole Fighter." This is one of the best films starring Gordon Liu, a cult star known in the west for his role in "KIll Bill Volume 2" as Pai Mei. It focuses on the art of pole fighting, and shows Liu as a master of the the form.
  9. "Heroes of the East." Another Liu showcase shows a series of battles between Chinese kung fu masters and Japanese martial artists. This being one of the best Chinese kung fu films, one can guess who comes out on top.
  10. "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin." Also known as "Shaolin Master Killer," this film is pop-culturally important for giving the Wu-Tang Clan many of its names, including the title of its first album. Their worship of the film is earned; it is truly a martial arts classic, closing out our list of the 10 best Chinese kung fu movies.