Kung Fu is a form of Chinese Martial Arts which includes a culmination of different fighting styles. Over the years, myriad styles of Kung Fu have come into existence. These fighting styles have been classified according to geographical regions, religions and history. Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest and most popular styles of Kung Fu. Kung Fu used to be an integral part of Chinese literature and theater, however, it has now become part of film industry. It was Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu movies that popularized Kung Fu and the same has been continued by actors, Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
Kung Fu movies are now globally recognized and is considered a sub-genre of martial arts movies. If you love action packed movies, then we are sure you will love Kung Fu movies. Let’s have a look at some of the best Kung Fu movies of all times.
#1 Come Drink with Me (1966)
Come Drink with me is one of the classic Kung Fu movies. Set during the Ming dynasty, the movie was filmed in Hong Kong and was submitted for Oscars but did not get nominated. A bandit group kidnaps a young son of the Government official and demands to set free their captivated leader in exchange. Golden Swallow is sent by the Government official to rescue his son. She meets the group in a pub but the negotiation does not go as planned and results in bloodshed. Golden Swallow is helped by a beggar. Next day, the beggar shares the location of the bandit group. Golden Swallow attacks the group again but is hit by a poisonous dart. She is again rescued by the beggar and recovers from the wound. It is revealed that the beggar’s name is Fan and he is a leader of a Kung Fu society. The bandit group is being helped by another Kung Fu master – Liao Kung. Fan and Kung were trained by the same master but the master was killed by Kung. Despite knowing Kung’s truth, Fan is reluctant to confront Kung because of a personal reason. Will Fan and Golden Swallow be able to rescue General’s son? Will Fan finally confront Kung?
#2 A Touch of Zen (1971)
A Touch of Zen is one of the best Kung Fu movies to watch. The movie has been filmed in Taiwan and won Technical Grand Prize at Cannes film festival in 1975. Again set during the Ming dynasty, the plot revolves around Yang and Gu. Gu is a painter who is clumsy and unambitious. One day, a stranger comes to get his portrait done by Gu. The stranger is on a secret mission. With him, has come a fugitive. Gu and the fugitive (Yang) become friends. Yang then reveals to Gu who she is and tells him about her secret mission. Gu decides to help her plot against a corrupt officer, Wei. Wei had killed most of Yang’s family after Yang’s father tried to tell the Emperor about Wei’s corruption. In the end, Wei is killed, Yang dies and Gu is left to father his and Yang’s child.
#3 Shaolin Temple (1982)
Shaolin Temple is based on the Shaolin Monastery and is set during the transition period between Sui Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty.
The rule of Sui dynasty has come to an end. Wang is a deadly fighter and has deceptively installed himself as an Emperor of East Capitol. He wants to strengthen his defense along the riverfront. Close to the riverfront is Shaolin temple. Wang is abusive and forces sick and old to work for him. Unfortunately, his defense work is going slow and he decides to make prisoners work for him as well. The slaves are constantly whipped by Wang’s army. One day, a slave is almost to whipped to death when an old man comes to his rescue. The old man is a Kung Fu master and is able to rescue the slave but Wang (who is also a Kung Fu master) tricks the old man and kills him. The Kung Fu master’s son (Yuan) tries to avenge the death of his father but he is left to die by Wang. Wounded, he reaches Shaolin temple where is nursed and secretly watches sifu training. He seeks Sifu’s help who tells him that he (Yuan) needs to be a monk. The Abbot of Shaolin makes Yuan a junior monk. Yuan begins his training with Sifu and soon excels in his training. He learns more about Sifu’s past and decides to kill Wang. One of the refuge at Shaolin Temple is the leader of Tang dynasty, Li Yuan. Yuan and Sifu’s daughter help Li escape but they are caught by Yang’s army. However, just in time, Sifu comes and saves the trio from Yang’s army. Wang attacks Shaolin Temple and kills the Abbot and other monks including Sifu. In the end, Yuan kills Wang and Li becomes the new emperor.
#4 Iron Monkey (1993)
This 1993 film set in Hong Kong is based on the Chinese folk hero Wong-Fei-hung. This is a fictional episode where the folk hero meets Iron Monkey during his childhood. The is one of the classic Kung Fu movies that mainly focuses on the pure forms of martial arts and is packed with intense action.
Iron Monkey is a martial artist who is an alter ego of physician, Yang. Yang cures the poor for free during the day and steals money from rich at night. The people in his town love him but he is a nuisance for the rich. One day, he steals gold from the Governor’s house leaving Governor’s men injured. Wong Fei Hung arrives with father, Wong Kei Ying in the same village. Kei Ying is attacked by thugs but is able to defeat them. Governor’s men notice similarities in the fighting style (between Kei Ying and Iron Monkey) and arrest Kei Ying. Kei Ying is brought to Governor’s court but Iron Monkey comes to rescue him. Both get into a dual and are unable to defeat each other. Iron Monkey flees but Kei Ying’s son is taken hostage and Kei Ying is asked to capture Iron Man. While Kei Ying is in pursuit of Iron Monkey, Iron Monkey rescues Ying’s son from Governor’s home. Eventually, Iron Monkey and Kei Ying join hands and fight the evil Shaolin monk.
#5 Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Shaolin Soccer was one of the most successful Kung Fu at the box office (the record was broken by Kung Fu Hustle) and won several awards. Shaolin Soccer is a story of a Shaolin Monk (Sing) who wants to popularize Shaolin Kung Fu amongst masses. He meets with an ex-soccer player (Fung), who was back stabbed by his former teammate – Hung, to help him (Sing) promote Shaolin Kung Fu through soccer. Fung agrees and Sing convinces his Shaolin brothers to join the soccer team. To form an unbeatable soccer team, Fung helps the team practice by holding soccer matches. He organizes a match between Shaolin brothers and a vicious team. During the game, the team is able to awaken their Shaolin principles and beat the opponent. They go on to compete in open cup competition. They are set against Team Evil (which is managed by Hung and the players have been injected with a power drug). The team evil play dirty but with the help of martial arts, Shaolin brothers are able to win the match and trophy.
#6 Kung Fu Hustle – 2004
An Internationally acclaimed movie, Kung Fu Hustle is one of the must-watch Kung Fu movies. A gangster movie with a touch of humor, Kung Fu Hustle won several awards.
Set in 1930s, the story revolves around a deadly group that rules Shanghai. The group’s leader is Brother Sum. Sing and Bone want to join the gang and to prove their capabilities try to scare the residents of Pig Sty Alley. Unfortunately, their plan fails and they are captured by Sum’s men. Sum also send few of his men to scare the residents at Pig Sty Alley but they are defeated by three tenants – Coolie, Donut and Tailor. The landlady evicts them but they are soon attacked by a group of assassins. It is revealed that the landlady and her husband also martial arts masters and fight assassins to save the tenants. Unfortunately all three tenants die. Captured Sing and Bone escape Sum’s confinement which impresses Sum. He offers them to be part of the gang if they kill the landlady. Sing and Bone, again, reach Pig Sty Alley to kill the landlady but the plan backfires. Sing is wounded and he escape. On his return, he notices that his wounds get healed on their own. Brother Sum gives Sing one more chance. He asks Sing to help the Beast escape and in return he (Sing) will become part of the gang. The Beast escapes. The landlady and her husband come to settle score with Sum when they are attacked by Beast. They are severely wounded and Sum asks Sing to kill them. Sing has a change of heart and hits Sum and Beast. Sing, landlady and her husband escape, and Sum is killed by Beast. Beast attacks Pig Sty Alley but Sing uses his Buddhist Palm method to control the Beast.
#7 Kung Fu Panda – 2008
Kung Fu Panda is an animated martial arts films and is one of my favorite Kung Fu movies. Unlike, the movies mentioned above, Kung Fu Panda is a light movie. The movie revolves around Po, a Panda who is clumsy and dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. Po’s father is a goose who runs a noodle restaurant and his noodles are quite popular.
The Tortoise Grand Master Oogway forecasts that an evil Kung Fu warrior, the snow Leopard would escape after twenty years in prison and would arrive at the Valley of Peace to destroy it. Oogway asks the Master Shifu to choose a Dragon warrior to stop the destruction of Valley. After imminent practice sessions rendered by Master Shifu, the furious five (Tigress, Viper, Monkey, Mantis and Crane) become ready to be chosen as the Dragon Warrior, who would fight the evil warrior and save the valley. The day to choose the dragon warrior arrives. Po tries to get inside the arena but the doors close. He fills his noodle cart with crackers and lights it. Po lands rights in front of Oogway and is chosen as the dragon warrior. Shifu and Furious Five are shocked. Shifu and Furious Five are hostile towards Po and Po begins to self-doubt himself. When Po goes to meet Oogway, Oogway encourages Po. Meanwhile, Tai Lung escapes the prison and Oogway passes away. Despite, trying hard, Po is unable to grasp Kung Fu and is about to leave when Shifu discovers that Po can be taught Kung Fu with the help of food. Tai Lung attacks the valley and Po must go to defeat him. When he begins to doubt himself again, it is then his father reveals that there is no secret recipe but he has to believe in himself.
#8 Monk Comes Down the Mountain (2015)
This is one of the Kung Fu movies that is based on the novel of the same name, written by Xu Haofeng. The plot revolves around the strong and ardent relationship between a master and his disciple. A monk depends on his amazing martial arts skill for the survival when he is banished from his poor monastery. He meets various people during his adventurous journey and he searches for a mentor to guide him and streamline his skills. During the nomadic travel, he encounters many masters but discovers an extraordinary Kung Fu Master. Soon he becomes acquainted with the master and as days pass by, he comes to know that his master is in possession of the Book of Secrets. The Book of Secrets reveals the forbidden art of deadly technique of Kung Fu, the Ape Strike. The evil duo, a father and son, desire to steal the Book of secrets from the master. It is the duty of the monk to protect his master and the book.
These were some of the best Kung Fu movies. Think we have missed a movie from the list? Leave a comment below.