5. Jackie Chan – Drunken Master 2
Everyone knows legendary martial artist and action film star Jackie Chan. Over his career Chan has appeared in countless movies alongside many of the world’s top martial artists. Choosing one performance that stands above all others is no easy task.
However, his greatest fight scene of all time would have to be the epic finale to the Hong Kong kung fu film Drunken Master II. Released in the US as The Legend of Drunken Master, the final fight scene goes for more than 20 minutes with the final showdown between Chan and co-star Ken Lo being one of the best examples of action choreography of all time.
Lo met Chan in 1986. He was working in a Hong Kong disco as the head of security and was later hired by Chan as his personal bodyguard and member of his stunt team.
The film, which was a sequel to Chan’s 1978 film Drunken Master earned box office success in both Hong Kong and the US. It also received critical acclaim. Film reviewer Roger Ebert said ‘It may not be possible to film a better fight scene.”
Drunken Master II is listed as one of TIME Magazine’s All-TIME Best 100 Films.
4. Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris – The Way of The Dragon
This fight scene from the 1972 Hong Kong martial arts film, The Way of the Dragon features Bruce Lee against a very young Chuck Norris. This appearance alongside Lee was one of Norris’ earliest film roles and if the internet memes are true, the only time he’s ever been defeated at anything.
Lee plays Tang Lung, a martial artist tasked with protecting a friend’s restaurant in Rome from local gangsters. When he refuses to hand the restaurant over, the mafia boss recruits the help of two martial artists to defeat Tang.
The final fight scene between Tang and Colt played by Norris is set against the backdrop of an empty Coliseum. The two exchange blows with neither seemingly gaining the upper hand. At one point, Lee manages to grab hold of Norris’ chest hair and tears off a huge tuft. Tang eventually wins after he manages to injure his opponent.
3. Tony Jaa – Tom Yum Goong
Tom-Yum-Goong, released as The Protector in the Us and Warrior King in the UK, first hit screens back in 2005. The film sees Thai action star Tony Jaa as Kham, a young martial artist who travels to Australia to retrieve stolen elephants that belong to the king of Thailand.
While the film was criticized for its lack of coherent story line, it does have one of the most epic martial arts fight sequences of all time. In one continuous four-minute shot filmed entirely on Steadicam, Jaa fights his way to the top of a Thai nightclub. He beats off wave after wave of goons, determined to let nothing stand in his way. The choreography and timing of the scene is amazing as every element of Jaa’s epic accent had to go perfectly to capture this mind-blowing fight scene all in one take. If you have never seen this film, watch it tonight, if only for this epic battle and masterful choreography.
2. Donnie Yen vs Mike Tyson & Zhang Jin – Ip Man 3
Ip Man 3 is the third installment in the series of films loosely based around the life of legendary Wing Chun master, Ip Man. The film sees martial artist Donnie Yen as the title role, squaring off against several opponents including former World Heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson. As epic as the fight is between Yen and Tyson, it is the final showdown between Yen and Cheung Tin-chi played by Zhang Jin that takes the prize as one of the greatest martial arts fight scenes of all time.
The pair battle it out using six and a half point poles, butterfly swords and bare hands to ultimately decide whose Wing Chun skills are the best. Choreographer Yuen Woo-ping appears on this list once again and it’s easy to see why he is one of the best fight choreographers in the business.
1. Jet Li vs Billy Chau – Fist of Legend
Taking the number one spot with his second appearance on this list is legendary martial artist and member of the famous Beijing Wushu Team, Jet Li in his 1994 action masterpiece, Fist of Legend. The film is a remake of the 1972 classic, Fist of Fury that starred Bruce Lee.
Li plays Chen Zhen, a student of the famous martial arts master and founder of the Chin Woo Athletic Association, Huo Yuanjia. Upon learning of his master’s death, Chen returns to Shanghai from Japan where he is studying.
After discovering that his master was poisoned by the head of a local Karate school. Chen visits the school where he is confronted by the students. He proceeds to wipe the floor with everyone in sight including the Dojo’s Sensei.
When word of Chen’s victory spreads, he is forced to leave the school to avoid the Japanese authorities.
Featuring more masterful choreography by Yuen Woo-ping, Fist of Legend culminates in an epic battle between Chen and Japanese General Gō Fujita played by former WKA World Kickboxing Champion, Billy Chau. Beginning in the dojo and sprawling into the gardens and back into the dojo again, the fight sees Chen initially overpowered by the General’s hard striking techniques. Battered and bruised, Chen eventually triumphs after Fujita attacks him with a sword and he is forced to take drastic measures to end the fight.
If you have never seen this film and you are a martial arts fan, or even if you’re not, Fist of Legend is a must watch.
Well that was the 10 best movie martial arts fight scenes of all time. What do you think? Is there any epic battles that we have left out? Let us know!