Anyone who has watched more than a few Chinese movies cannot fail to be impressed by what the Chinese call wushu and westerners usually call Kung Fu, or Chinese martial arts. Wushu is one of the great achievements of traditional Chinese culture - a sport and a fighting technique that combines brains and brawn. Here is our list of the top 10 Kung Fu movies.
#10 The Legend 功夫皇帝方世玉
In The Legend, martial artist Jet Li portrays a real-life turn-of-the-century Cantonese patriot Fong Sai-Yuk.
This early 1990s film is a much more blunt and straightforward effort than Tsui Hark's flamboyant Once Upon a Time in China, but it includes many lively and funny sequences.
Josephine Siao, who previously starred in many 1960s Cantonese comedies, plays Fong Sai-Yuk's martial mother. Siao disguises herself as man to enter a martial arts competition held by a rich merchant and ends up winning both the prize and the heart of the rich man's daughter.
#9 Game Of Death 死亡游戏
Bruce Lee died before the completion of Game of Death and the final version that we see today is considered by many as little more than a crude cut and paste job. Although there is a severe shortage of genuine Bruce Lee footage in Game of Death, the film manages to pack in some outstanding fight scenes, most of which take place in the last 20 minutes.
#8 Once Upon a Time in China 黄飞鸿之男儿当自强
Set in late 19th century Canton, Once upon a time in China depicts legendary martial arts hero Huang Feihong (1847-1924) battling against foreign forces (English, French and American) that are plundering China. When Aunt Yee arrives back from America totally westernised, Huang Feihong assumes the role of her protector.
#7 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 卧虎藏龙
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has no shortage of breathtaking battles, but it also has the dramatic soul of a Greek tragedy and the sweep of an epic romance. It is the work of director Ang Lee, who fell in love with movies while watching Kung Fu films as a youngster and made Crouching Tiger as a tribute to the genre.
An epic set against the breathtaking landscapes of ancient China, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, combines exhilarating martial arts choreography by Yuen Wo-Pind with the sensitivity and classical storytelling of an Ang Lee film. The result is something truly unexpected: romantic, emotionally powerful entertainment.
#6 The Shaolin Temple 少林寺
The Shaolin Temple is a 1979 Hong Kong martial arts action film directed by Chang Hsin-yen and starring Jet Li in his debut role. The film is based on the legend of China's famous Shaolin Temple and depicts the Shaolin style of martial arts. It was the first Hong Kong production to be filmed in Chinese mainland. A remake of the film titled Shaolin and starring Jackie Chan will be released in 2011.
#5 Fist of Legend 精武英雄
Fist of Legend is a 1994 production starring martial arts champion Jet Li. It is a remake of the 1972 film Fist of Fury, which starred the greatest martial arts legend of all, Bruce Lee.
This film is set in Shanghai in 1937, when the city was occupied by the Japanese, and racial tensions were high. Li stars as Chen Zhen, who returns to Shanghai to avenge the death of his master, who was poisoned. This is essential viewing for martial arts buffs and Jet Li fans.
#4 Drunken Master II 醉拳II
Drunken Master II is a 1994 Hong Kong action film directed by Lau Kar-Leung and Jackie Chan, who stars as Chinese folk hero, Huang Feihong. It was Chan's first traditional-style martial arts film since The Young Master (1980). The film was released in North America as The Legend of Drunken Master in 2000.
The story concerns the adventures of Huang Feihong as he accidentally becomes involved with the affairs of a British consul who is smuggling Chinese antiques out of the country. Huang battles the henchmen of the consul using the Zui Quan (Drunken Boxing) style of martial arts. Huang finds that he becomes a more powerful fighter when he consumes alcohol, although after consuming too much he becomes sluggish and incapable of fighting.
#3 The Way of the Dragon 猛龙过江
The Way of the Dragon is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts comedy written and directed by Bruce Lee. It was his third major film. In addition to directing and screenwriting the film, Bruce Lee plays the leading character.
Lee plays Tan Lung - an innocent country boy sent to Rome to help out some relatives who have been receiving threats from mobsters trying to take over their restaurant. Like most heroes played by Bruce, Tan Lung is slow to anger and well-mannered, but once provoked he quickly transforms into a two-legged killing machine.
#2 Enter The Dragon 龙争虎斗
Enter the Dragon takes Lee to a martial arts competition held on an isolated island ruled by the evil Mr Han. The plot is the most sophisticated of any of Bruce Lee's films. Lee plays a secret agent who has been hired to uncover Han's illegal opium ring. Interlaced with the central storyline, however, is a sub plot that involves Lee avenging his sister who lost her life after being attacked by a gang of Han's henchmen.
#1 Fist of Fury 精武门
Fist of Fury is Bruce Lee's second film and arguably his best in terms of fight sequences. Bruce Lee plays Chen Zhen, a student of Huo Yuanjia, who fights to defend the honor of China and bring to justice those responsible for his master's death.
Set in 1908 Shanghai, the story begins with the main character Chen arriving at his martial arts school for the funeral of his beloved teacher. At the funeral, a delegation from a Japanese Bushido school arrives and presents the Chinese mourners with a large tablet inscribed "Sick Man of Asia". Chen soon learns that members of the Japanese school murdered his teacher. Chen's grief turns into rage and he sets out to wreak revenge.