Martial arts can help mold the minds of any individual into a state pf peace and tranquility. It can also entertain you during the darkest of times. That is especially true with films covering the sport.
Over the years, there have been a number of movies dedicated to showing how to dedicate oneself to various forms of art, including karate. From comedic to serious roles, there are those that you just can’t live without.
Here are some of the top films that are considered some of the best adaptations of martial arts/karate.
Fists of Fury
Bruce Lee v. an entire dojo? Good luck to the latter.
The second big movie role for Lee in Hong Kong, this is the story of a martial artist who returns to his school, only to find out his master has been murdered. He ends up going on a spree that sees the battle of multi-factions resulting in a battle of vengeance for the ages. It was one of Lee’s earlier works, and while it wasn’t as well-put as the other works we will discuss, you could see signs of greatness.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The 21st century got its kung fu Mona Lisa early, so there would be no sudden mistakes.
The themes of honor, revenge, love and wonder cover a majority of what is the essential martial arts movie for today’s generation. It feels like you are one with the people in the film when you are suddenly gliding on rooftops and on top of the world with the trees. Ang Lee was able to direct this film in a way that doesn’t just have one theme to a scene, but multiple.
The quest for the Green Destiny sword was much more than that, and it was done in a way that captivated a Western audience for the first time in a long time. Slow motion, “wire fu” and going beyond the norm are just some of the things that made this a financial hit, and why it is regarded as one of the top films today.
Kung Fu Panda
Yes, we just went from serious films to Jack Black being a panda. However, what it lacks in emotion it makes up for in stunning visuals. It is also something that is for the entire family, while still showing breathtaking karate moves.
Not taking itself too seriously, the movie adheres to tradition with a little modern take on the action. It felt like something one would appreciate, especially with how the moves are performed in the fight scenes. While it may have watered itself down with the sequels, the original managed to maintain an innocence about itself.
The Karate Kid
The 1984 film holds over very well to this day, as seen by the original series, Cobra Kai. “Wax on, wax off”, “Sweep the leg” and “Mercy” are just a few of the top quotes from the film.
The great Pat Morita plays Mr. Miyagi, who has become a mentor to the troubled Daniel LaRusso. Throughout the film, we see that Miyagi is not as tough as Daniel portrays him to be, but a man willing to help out someone in need. His methods, albeit unorthodox, force Daniel to be a better man while also teaching him some history. A very 80’s film, The Karate Kid brings out the best in all of us, especially after its magical first view.
Enter The Dragon
The last completed film before Bruce Lee’s death was considered his masterpiece. It is a film that would have made him a true star all over the world, and in a sense it did.
Lee used everything from his previous films to put on a performance that made it seem like his graduation day. He was really the first one to point out he wanted to “kick some ass”, even without the bubblegum. The style of the film, the way Lee says “emotional content”, and the way he stages all of the action sequences really drive the point home of his brilliance. Let’s not forget Lee had multiple duties in this film, each one bringing a side of him you were invested in.
It was perhaps too obvious that Lee would be mentioned several times on the list. One cannot, however, look past the film that truly connected on all fronts. The master, it appears Bruce Lee’s influence will continue to live on.