Long before Ang Lee won his Oscar for Life of Pi, he broke into Hollywood’s upper echelon in 2000 by directing the sumptuous Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. With two stars from that film (Ziyi Zhang and Chen Chang) reuniting for director Kar Wai Wong’s new martial-arts movie, The Grandmaster, we take a look at the best martial-arts films made since Crouching Tiger brought the genre into the mainstream.
This historical epic from director Yimou Zhang stars Jet Li as a swordsman protecting a powerful warlord in pre-unified China. Gorgeous imagery makes it an instant classic.
THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI (2003)
Written and directed by Takeshi Kitano, who also stars, this gem resurrects cult antihero Zatoichi, a blind masseur and master swordsman who fights off a village full of sinister thugs.
Forgo the butchered theatrical version for the director’s cut of this masterpiece based on the life of Huo Yuanjia, the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation.
IP MAN (2008)
Donnie Yen’s best film casts him as martial-arts master Yip Man — the guy who taught Bruce Lee the art of Wing Chun — and established Yen as one of the genre’s greatest modern talents.
13 ASSASSINS (2010)
Directed by Takashi Miike, this classic samurai tale from the Akira Kurosawa school features one of the longest, bloodiest and best fight sequences we’ve seen in decades.