Martial arts movies have been a mainstay of cinema since at least the mid-1970s. All the mind-blowing choreographed action and high-flying stunts are certainly the main reason people have come to enjoy them, but it’s not the only one. The truly memorable ones are full of history, humor, oddball characters, and, especially in older films, the hilariously cheesy dubbed dialogue. It all adds up to a movie niche that often makes for the perfect piece of Sunday afternoon entertainment. So if you ever find yourself in the mood for some fast and furious martial arts mayhem, consult this list for some most iconic masterpieces the genre has to offer.
10. Ong-Bak (2003)
Thai martial arts guru Tony Jaa’s phenomenal skills are nothing short of spectacular in Ong-Bak, which would probably be a pretty forgettable movie if it weren’t for all the jaw-dropping action sequences. In taking on the Thai underworld to retrieve a stolen statue head, Jaa demonstrates a busload of inventive kicks and devastating elbow/knee combos, all without using any of the wires or pulleys commonly employed for many Chinese martial arts movies. If anything, you should watch this movie for no other reason than the Street Fighter-worthy flaming spin kick he delivers to finish off one of the countless thugs he dispatches.