If you’re in the mood for an action flick, but would rather go for something a little quieter, a little more graceful than Schwarzenegger-fueled explosions, a solid martial arts movie is a sure bet. And man, does Netflix have a lot of them. Granted, you’re going to have to read a lot of subtitles or put up with bad dubbing, but nobody watches a Bruce Lee movie for the riveting dialogue.
When it comes to Kung Fu movies, fans of the genre can be incredibly opinionated on what is and isn’t a good martial arts flick. Personally, I’m more of a Bloodsport and American Ninja guy — probably because they were on TV every weekend in the early 90s — but I realize these are not considered “good” martial arts movies. Luckily, for those that want a well-choreographed Hong Kong classic, Netflix has some of Bruce Lee and Jet Li’s best work available for streaming. There’s also some pretty good low-budget stuff that’s made the cut as well. So without wasting any more time, here are the 12 highest rated Kung Fu movies on Netflix, as rated by you the user.
Ip Man 4.3 stars out of 2,799,289 ratings
Based on the life of Bruce Lee’s master, Yip Man, the movie won over Hong Kong film critics and audiences with its story of the Wing Chun master’s life during the second Second Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s. The film has some of the best martial arts movie action of the last decade, but also delivers an engaging narrative of Japan’s occupation of Hong Kong at the time. The martial arts choreography by Sammo Hung helped the movie garner 12 Hong Kong film awards including “Best Picture” and “Best Action Choreography.” Rotten Tomatoes 93, IMDB 8.1
Ip Man 2 4.3 stars out of 1,976,334 ratings
Confident that Ip Man would find success, producer Raymond Wong and director Wilson Yip announced their plans for a sequel before Ip Man had even been released in Chinese theaters. As far as sequels go, Ip Man 2 does its predecessor justice with actor Donnie Yen reprising the lead role that sees the martial arts master navigating through Hong Kong which has come under British rule following WWII. The movie has an incredible fight scene with Ip squaring off in the ring against one of Britain’s top boxers, and briefly touches on a young Bruce Lee’s introduction to the Wing Chun master. Rotten Tomatoes 84, IMDB 7.6
Blood and Bone 4.1 stars out of 743,742 ratings
2009 was a good year for martial arts action star Michael Jai White. He gave us the incredibly funny blaxploitation spoof, Black Dynamite, then followed it up with the knuckle-busting Blood and Bone. The premise has been featured in too many movies to count — an ex-con has to honor a promise to a dead friend, ass kicking ensues — but it’s one of the better low-budget martial arts films out there, and the camera work in the fight scenes is done well enough to make up for a clichéd plot. Rotten Tomatoes 72, IMDB 6.7
The Legend is Born: Ip Man 4.1 stars out of 472,381 ratings
This is the third film in the Ip franchise, though technically it’s a stand alone as the movie has no connection to the previous films’ director or lead actor. Still, even with Dennis To taking over for Donnie Yen as Ip, Legend has managed to win over Ip Man’s audience, somewhat. The film works as a prequel to the first two films, with some of the actors returning, but in different roles which is a bit confusing. The action is still there, but the story of Ip falling in love doesn’t have a chance to fully develop mostly due to the substandard acting. Rotten Tomatoes 60, IMDB 7.1
Way of the Dragon 4.1 stars out of 300,807 ratings
This is the movie that brought Hong Kong’s martial arts superstar Bruce Lee and rising American action star Chuck Norris together. It’s also Lee’s sole directorial effort. The plot follows Bruce Lee traveling to Italy to help out a friend whose restaurant is being targeted by the local mafia. The mafia has its own secret weapon though — yep, Chuck Norris — pre-Stetson hat, of course. The movie’s score is reminiscent of Sergio Leon’s spaghetti westerns and has some incredible fight scenes, one in particular with Lee pulling a brutal move and ripping out Chuck Norris’ chest hair. Rotten Tomatoes 87, IMDB 7.3