The transcript below is from the video “Top 10 Martial Arts Movies of the Century (So Far)” by WatchMojo.com.

WatchMojo.com (Top 10 Lists on Music, TV, Film and Video Games):

The 21st Century has been a great time for fans of martial arts cinema. For this list, we’ll be looking at the very best martial arts action movies to come out since the year 2000. Our countdown includes “Ip Man”, “The Protector”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and more! Did YOUR favorite martial arts movie make the list? Let us know in the comments!

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

The 21st Century has been a great time for fans of martial arts cinema. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Martial Arts Movies of the Century (So Far).

For this list, we’ll be looking at the very best martial arts action movies to come out since the year 2000. In many ways, we’re in a golden age for the genre, and these movies are proof of that.

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 10: ‘The Protector’ (2005)

(Fight Scene from ‘The Protector’.)

We’ll talk about Tony Jaa’s debut film shortly, but we’re starting our list with the film that solidified the actor as one of the breakout martial arts stars of the new millennium.

(Fight Scene from ‘The Protector’.)

Jaa stars as Kham, a young man whose family were once charged with guarding the War Elephants of the King of Thailand. But when one of his tusked charges is taken by a corrupt politician in bed with organized crime, Kham heads to the big city to bust heads and find his friend. This entry is full to the brim with incredible stunt work and bone-breaking action, with Jaa’s mastery of Muay Thai on full display.

(Fight Scene from ‘The Protector’.)

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 9: ‘Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior’ (2003)

(Fight Scene from ‘Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior’.)

Tony Jaa leaped onto the martial arts scene with this 2003 flick, delivering a flying elbow to the cranium of the entire martial arts genre.

(Fight Scene from ‘Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior’.)

Jaa once again plays a man on a mission, a villager on the hunt for the stolen head of an ancient Buddha statue. His fight takes him into the Bangkok underworld, where his ferocious Muay Thai skills are unleashed. This entry brought Muay Thai and other Southeast Asian martial arts to the forefront of Martial Arts cinema, which had previously been dominated by films and styles from China. The film’s prequel doubled down on this, exploring the style even further.

(Fight Scene from ‘Ong-Bak 2’.)

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 8: ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ (2004)

(Fight Scene from ‘Kung Fu Hustle’.)

Writer/director/actor Stephen Chow may not be the first filmmaker to mix kung fu and comedy, but he’s indisputably one of the subgenres finest talents.

(Fight Scene from ‘Kung Fu Hustle’.)

Building on the success of ‘Shaolin Soccer’ and a deep back-catalogue of kung-fu comedy hits, Chow’s 2004 film sees him as a wannabe gangster who becomes caught in the middle of a war between a local gang and the residents of a rundown apartment block, which turns out to be owned by a retired pair of bonafide martial arts badasses.

(Fight Scene from ‘Kung Fu Hustle’.)

The film liberally mixes martial arts with special effects, leading to an end result that’s equal parts ‘Crouching Tiger’ and ‘Bugs Bunny’.

(Fight Scene from ‘Kung Fu Hustle’.)

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 7: ‘Fearless’ (2006)

(Fight Scene from ‘Fearless’.)

At the time of its release, this period action epic was touted as the final such film for martial arts legend Jet Li. Li plays Huo Yuanjia, a legendary figure within Chinese martial arts who fought and defeated several foreign fighters in publicized matches in the early 1900s.

(Fight Scene from ‘Fearless’.)

This was seen as a great victory for Chinese national pride, and Li’s portrayal of Yuanjia certainly plays to his legacy as a source of Chinese patriotism. Under the direction of accomplished martial arts director Ronny Yu, Li reminds viewers with almost every precise movement why he’ll be remembered as one of the all-time greats of his genre.

(Fight Scene from ‘Fearless’.)

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 6: ‘House of Flying Daggers’ (2004)

(Fight Scene from ‘House of Flying Daggers’.)

In the early to mid-2000s, period martial arts films with an emphasis on operatic grandeur and style were all the rage, and this entry from director Zhang Yimou is definitely emblematic of that.

(Fight Scene from ‘House of Flying Daggers’.)

The story follows a police officer on the trail of the titular rebel group, who are fighting against the corrupt government. In his search, he meets Mei, a blind dancer who may be a member of the Flying Daggers, but his loyalties are tested when his affection for Mei begins to outweigh his sense of duty. A beautiful and haunting film that also features incredible fight choreography, this entry is equal parts action and tragic fable of love and duty.

(Fight Scene from ‘House of Flying Daggers’.)

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 5: ‘Flash Point’ (2007)

(Fight Scene from ‘Flash Point’.)

While period films are a huge part of martial arts cinema, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make some room for contemporary crime dramas, like this 2007 entry starring the one and only Donnie Yen.

(Fight Scene from ‘Flash Point’.)

Yen plays a cop on the trail of a trio of Vietnamese gangsters, a chase that culminates in a knock-down, drag-out brawl between Yen and co-star Collin Chou.

(Fight Scene from ‘Flash Point’.)

Don’t get us wrong, the rest of the movie is great, but this final showdown has to be one of the most intense, brutal, brilliantly choreographed fight scenes of the last few decades. That alone should get you excited to see this one if you haven’t already.

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 4: ‘Hero’ (2002)

(Fight Scene from ‘Hero’.)

Getting back to period films, this entry unites our old friends Jet Li and Zhang Yimou for another sweeping martial arts epic. The story unfolds ‘Rashomon’ style, with Li’s nameless swordsman and the future Emperor of China giving conflicting retellings of Li’s victory over three assassins. Li claims his quest is only to protect the Emperor, who instead suspects treachery is afoot. Much like our last Zhang Yimou entry, this one contains some of the most beautiful, elegantly choreographed and performed action scenes out there.

(Fight Scene from ‘Hero’.)

Unfolding more like elegant, emotionally charged dances than the brutal showdowns of some other movies on our list, the fights in this entry are some of the most captivating out there.

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 3: ‘Ip Man’ (2008)

(Fight Scene from ‘Ip Man’.)

Perhaps the most celebrated and enduring role of Donnie Yen’s career, the ‘Ip Man’ franchise is a staple of modern martial arts movies and it all began here. Yen plays the titular Ip Man, a revered figure within the martial arts community who mastered the Wing Chun style of martial arts.

(Fight Scene from ‘Ip Man’.)

In his first outing as Master Ip, Yen fights against the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s, even facing down ten black belts in one iconic scene. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the numerous sequels, which continued to tell the story of Ip Man’s life and accomplishments. However, the original is still number one with us.

(Fight Scene from ‘Ip Man’.)

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 2: ‘The Raid: Redemption’ (2011)

(Fight Scene from ‘The Raid: Redemption’.)

Few films have come along and hit the martial arts genre quite as hard as this one did when it exploded onto the scene in 2011, instantly catapulting star Iko Uwais to stardom and setting a new bar for gritty, brutal martial arts action.

(Fight Scene from ‘The Raid: Redemption’.)

When a raid on a Jakarta apartment complex run by a local drug lord goes horribly wrong, a SWAT team suddenly finds themselves attacked on all sides, and the only way out involves a whole lot of people getting really badly hurt. The action in this entry is beyond brutal and definitely not for the faint of heart.

(Fight Scene from ‘The Raid: Redemption’.)

But for fans of no-holds-barred action mayhem? Accept no substitute.

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

‘Chocolate’ (2008)

For the Badass Female Lead.

‘The Final Master’ (2015)

For the Incredible Ending Fight Scene.

‘Ninja: Shadow of a Tear’ (2013)

For Being an Awesome ‘80s Throwback.

‘SPL II: A Time for Consequences’ (2015)

For Tony Jaa vs. Max Zhang.

‘Kung Fu Killer’ (2014)

For Terrific Stunt Work.

Peter DeGiglio from Watchmojo.com:

Number 1: ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000)

(Fight Scene from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’.)

Ang Lee’s iconic martial arts epic swept the world in 2000, setting the tone for martial arts films to come in the new millennium. As much a tribute to Wuxia martial arts films of old as a bold new entry in the genre, the film sees two famed warriors caught in a web of intrigue and deception after the theft of The Green Destiny, a fabled sword.

(Fight Scene from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’.)

The visuals of this film need no introduction, as the tightly choreographed fight sequences and wirework chase scenes have become engrained not just in martial arts cinema, but in cinema as a whole.

(Fight Scene from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’.)

If you watch just one martial arts film from the last two decades, make it this one.”




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