Martial arts have manifested itself into Western culture just as much as it has in the cultures where it has originated. In almost every country in the world there are martial arts tournaments or martial arts classes and it is something that has continued to grow. One place where it has enjoyed a lot of airtime and emphasis is in film. Over the years directors have built stories around martial arts, producing great masterpieces.

Here are the top 10 most important martial arts movies in the world.

Once Upon a Time in China – Watch Now on Amazon

This is the film that put Hong Kong on the map when it comes to film as well as the master of kung fu himself, Jet Li. Reviewers have called him the most graceful martial artist in the world and this movie went on to produce 4 more sequels of which Jackie Chan was included in one.

Yojimbo – Watch Now on Amazon

This film cleverly depicts how fresh blood is wanted in a new town. Two factions, who have been fighting for ages, each battle it out to win the new samurai’s favour so that he can join their faction. This film provided the platform for many Western films to come to fruition.

A Touch of Zen – Buy Now at Amazon

A Touch of Zen is one of the first martial art epics to have been shot, clocking in at a total running time of 3 hours. This film showcases the best cinematography and special effects as well as kick-ass martial arts moves. It provided the platform for Ang Lee’s famous, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The Raid – Watch Now on Amazon

During this film the viewer gets a taste of the brutality of gangs in Jakarta and how the police are sometimes overwhelmed. These fight scenes were especially noteworthy as the spaces were often cramped and fighters had to use the walls as springboards for their stunts.

Ong-Bak – Watch Now on Amazon

Bringing the viewer back down to earth, this film demonstrates the humble beginnings of the main character. The hero in this film is but a poor peasant who was born to dabble in Muay Thai and eventually ends up catching the baddies! The actors make clever use of the not-so familiar parts of their limbs like elbows and knees to fight.

The Matrix – Watch Now on Amazon

Keanu Reeves and the rest of the cast pay amazing tribute to different forms of martial arts in this film and it almost comes across as a dance rather than something violent. The cinematography allows the viewer to clearly see where turns are made and where kicks are dealt.

House of Flying Daggers – Watch Now on Amazon

If it’s Ancient Chinese culture you are after, this is the perfect movie to watch. The colours and special effects are brilliant, but not as brilliant as the martial arts. It showcases some of the badass Chinese ladies and show that they too can deal some punches if they need to!

Police Story – Watch Now on Amazon

Even though this film was made during the years where Jackie Chan wasn’t as well-known, he still gained notable respect from critics. He choreographed and did all the stunts in this film himself where he plays an undercover cop. This film produced 5 sequels, so it couldn’t have been all bad!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Watch Now on Amazon

This famous film from Ang Lee serves to be an icon in Western film. The reason is because of the precisely choreographed fighting scenes. He also manages to make every aspect of him film fit into martial arts – even the tender love scenes.

Enter the Dragon – Watch Now on Amazon

The most famous martial arts movie that was ever made is Enter the Dragon, starring Bruce Lee. It broke the box office in 1973 and remains one of the most important martial arts films in history. Critics have praised is ballet-like poise and his precise skill in martial arts, and he has managed to leave a legacy behind.

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