Kung Fu is an ancient Chinese martial art that has branched into many sub-groups since its birth in the 2nd century. But what is Kung Fu? When people hear the words “Kung Fu Movie,” they probably expect that it is a movie featuring one of many branches of Kung Fu as its premise. The term Kung Fu, however, has been widely misunderstood since its debut on the silver screen.
Kung Fu is indeed a style of martial arts, but it transcends simply one definition and extends as well to a lifestyle that one chooses. There are those who interpret it as Kung – hard/ or skillful work, and Fu – time spent. Over a very long period of time, Kung Fu (or Gongfu) has come to generally define one who devotes oneself to a lifestyle of martial arts, or more specifically a Chinese martial art. This is why the martial arts movies we will talk about today are all considered Kung Fu films, and also why you won’t see any movies with Karate here like Karate Kid.
Dating all the way back to the 1920s, Kung Fu fighting movies have been an elemental aspect of modern filmmaking. You can see it in many films to this day, inspiring cinematographers, sound and video editors, directors, and choreographers to employ the classic styles they see fit. One of the most renowned is Quentin Tarantino, who directly cites classic Kung Fu films as his inspiration for filmmaking, sometimes through the characters in the films. Kung Fu films are illustrious, beautiful, hilarious, magical, and mysterious all at once, which is why we are here today to praise their glory.
Counting down from 10th best, it should be noted that, due to the lack of online availability for some of the more obscure films, they had to be omitted. So without further ado, I give you my top 10 Kung Fu movies of all time (available to watch online).
Honorable Mentions Kung Fu Films
Since we didn’t have space or couldn’t find them streaming online anywhere (save some bootlegged YouTube videos), here are some honorable mentions.
- Fist of Legend (1994)
- Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
- Police Story (1985)
- The Prodigal Son (1981)
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