This week’s new martial-arts film, The Man With the Iron Fists, have you feeling curious about the genre? Mike D’Angelo recommends these classics.
Come Drink With Me (1966)
King Hu’s tale of a general’s daughter’s attempt to rescue her kidnapped brother from bandits set the standard for martial-arts choreography for years to come.
Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain (1983)
American audiences got their first real look at Hong Kong’s gravity-defying wirework when this kinetic Tsui Hark fantasy epic got a U.S. release.
Drunken Master II (1994)
Also known as The Legend of Drunken Master, Jackie Chan’s greatest film features some of the most astounding stunts ever attempted on film. Don’t worry about not having seen the first Drunken Master—the plot isn’t important.
Most martial-arts movies focus on sheer athleticism; Zhang Yimou’s crossover hit proved that the genre can also support astonishing visual beauty.
Thailand’s Tony Jaa emerged as the genre’s next big sensation, introducing muay Thai (which places as much emphasis on knees and elbows as on hands and feet) to a wider audience.