Almost every martial artist has a list of favourite martial arts movies that they have a soft spot for, ones that excite and inspire them in their training, or psyche themselves up for an upcoming test or competition. I have my own top 5 list that I will share with you here (in no particular order). Bear in mind that these are not necessarily movies with the best fight scenes (I’d have to make a separate list for that), but ones that I actually enjoy watching from start to finish.
1. Supercop. This was the first Jackie Chan movie I ever saw. Being the first, it’ll always have a special place in my heart. It also features my favourite female Hong Kong action film star Michelle Yeoh, who manages to rival Jackie Chan in terms of martial grace as well as jaw-dropping stunts.
2. Mulan. Back when I first got my first degree black belt, I was asked to do a martial arts demo for the opening of this Disney film. I really didn’t know much about it until I saw it after the demo, but it really resonated with me as a woman having trained mostly with men. Some think Disney movies are a little cheesy, and perhaps that is true, but I really liked the spirit behind this movie and seeing a woman being more than the typical princess as is often the case in Disney children’s movies.
3. The Matrix. I was totally blown away by this movie the first time I saw it in the theatre. It is a favourite for almost every martial artist I know, especially ones that are programmers. I think people like it because many of them secretly wish they had some sort of latent special abilities that they just need to unlock. A lot of martial artists also like the zen-like philosophy that is peppered throughout the movie. And of course, the martial arts fights were pretty legendary at the time. I also like Trinity as a strong female lead (which led to my getting a Trinity costume for Halloween one year).
4. Hero. I first saw this movie back when I was doing a 3-week Taichi training program in Beijing. Not only is there a lot of traditional martial arts philosophy in this movie, it is rather beautifully filmed. The use of colour and scenery is spectacular, especially in the fight scenes. The fights themselves aren’t the most amazing I’ve seen in a movie, but the film as a whole is both breath-taking and inspiring.
5. Equilibrium. This movie is a new addition to my favourites, having only watched it for the first time a couple of years ago. I love this movie for its innovative approach to gun combat, which manages to blend it with the kind of movements and action we have come to love in martial arts fight scenes. The movie uses the concept of a gun kata, which I’ve never seen in any other film. Check it out:
The movie itself is a fairly standard 1984 style sci-fi movie, but the above concept just makes all the action so awesome to watch. Here is the official trailer if you’re interested:
Now over to you. What are your favourite martial arts related movies that you go to for inspiration? I’d love to add more to my own list. 🙂
This is the martial arts blog of Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu. Its purpose is to provide useful resources for martial artists to help them in their training, as well as instructors with their teaching. It is written by the Instructors of PWJJ, including Lori O'Connell Sensei (5th degree black belt in Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu), and Chris Olson Sensei (2nd degree black belt in Can-ryu & 1st degree black belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu jitsu). If you want to have a book or product reviewed or are interested in advertising, please contact us.
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