A ‘100 Best Martial Arts Movies of All Time’ List That Actually Doesn’t Suck

Nearly every list that I’ve seen thus far has sucked.

Paco Taylor
9 min readFeb 1, 2021


Credit: Warner Bros.

A buddy of mine at work and I were discussing martial arts movies one peaceful afternoon (he brought up the subject, by the way). The talk quickly devolved into a dick-measuring contest to see who between the two of us had watched the greatest number of ‘kung fu flicks.’

But three or so minutes into our conversation, my work bud would arrive at the ego-cracking conclusion that he really wasn’t even qualified to shine my nunchucks.

In fact, although he (Dennis) had indeed seen a fair number of martial arts movies, he had somehow only seen one Bruce Lee flick.

Bruce Lee, the man who forever changed the culture of martial arts cinema, only starred in four-and-a-quarter martial arts action films before his tragic passing in 1973, and Dennis––who considered himself to be a martial arts movie fan–had only seen one of ‘em.

It was insulting.

I didn’t make a big deal about it to him, but in my head, all I could hear was an echo of Bruce Lee’s voice whispering those words uttered right before the final fight against Terrible Mister Han™ in Enter the Dragon:

“You have offended my family and you have offended a Shaolin Temple.”

Now, before I get into the actual list of martial arts flicks I’ve seen, I’m hereby issuing an Imperial Decree: Anyone who claims to be a fan of martial arts films and hasn’t seen all four of Bruce Lee’s completed works is and henceforth and forthwith forbidden from calling themselves a fan.

It’s fine to say that you like or enjoy martial arts films, but you cannot call yourself a fan, because fandom requires a level of commitment. (see also: fanatic)

fa·nat·ic | fəˈnadik| noun. a person with an extreme and often unquestioning enthusiasm, devotion, or zeal for something.

I mean it, y’all are hereby forbidden from calling yourself a fan of such films unless you have actually watched the Four Noble Bruce Lee Movies: Fists of Fury (1971), Chinese Connection (1972), Return of the Dragon (1972) and Enter



Paco Taylor

Writes about Eastern and Western pop culture, history, and art. Has bylines at NeoText, Nextshark, G-Fan, Comics Beat & Comic Book Resources | stpaco@gmail