1. Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon: If I need to give you a synopsis of this film you don’t know the Martial Art genre. Yes it’s fight scenes are not as spectacular as a Bruce Lee film, the settings are not as breath taking as a Jet Li epic, but the story is just down right bad. In the words of the great Run DMC, “Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good.” As a kid I must have seen this movie a hundred times easily. No bad guy will ever match the charisma of Sho’ Nuff(Julius Carry) and “Bruce” LeRoy Green (Taimak) truly embodied his namesake Bruce Lee in his cool demeanor and naivety to woman… only with a slightly tanned outer skin. To this day I still watch it on a sick day from work with a grilled cheese and soup. (Make sure you notice my new site banner)
2. Hero: This movie is so well written I actually watch it in it’s original Mandarin audio track. I don’t understand the words, but the language sounds so fluid with the actions and it translates into that of a martial arts ballet where you don’t actually need words to follow the story, the actions and movements handle that themselves.
3. Way of the Dragon (aka Return of the Dragon): Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Bob Wall need I say more. Enter the Dragon gets all the credit as Lee’s masterpiece, but I will watch the showdown in Rome any day.
4. Bloodsport: Chong Li(Bolo) and Ogre tear up Hong Kong while Jean-Claude wears pants way too tight for my liking. But a movie that never gets old.
5. Pray For Death: Sho Kosugi, the greatest ninja of cinema. I dare you to find a better hooded warrior.
6. Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins: The plot is choppy, the action is silly (ie running on wet cement) but the utter silliness make the movie so perfect. Chiun(Joel Grey) is a great Zen Master who is really played by a Tony award winning actor from Ohio.
7. Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection): Bruce again, this time as a sneaky handyman.
8. Cradle 2 the Grave: Say what you will, I love this movie. Anthony Anderson is hilarious. Chuck Liddell and friends make an appearance to have their asses kicked.
9. Karate Kid: It may be a softly-rated fluff film of 80s, but there is no question there the role it played in all of our lives. “Now show me, Paint the fence.”
10. Legend of Black Scorpion (aka The Banquet): Asian cinema adaptation of Hamlet. Much like Romeo Must Die, but with a much less well known cast. What it lacks in Jet Li it makes up with Zhang Ziyi.
Honorable TV mention
Ohara: Mr. Miyagi gives up his maintenance job in Reseda, California for a job with the LAPD as Lt. Ohara. More of a Cop drama with some karate thrown in for good measure with some Japanese wisdom, think Walker Texas Ranger in the city. Sadly it only lasted 30 episodes and has never been put onto DVD.
If you begin to wonder, Where is [insert Bruce Lee/Jet Li film]? I tried to only chose one movie for the major star so not to have 8 Bruce Lee and Jet Li films dominating the entire list. Besides they are my favorites so I could hypothetically put Steven Segal on top and the following 5, but I know better. Jet & Bruce are the only actors I used for two films, Jet because the epic and action style were so distinctly different I felt it deserved a separate mention; and Bruce because he is Bruce and he can do as he pleases.