Though folks love to recollect the Nineteen Eighties for its unbelievable motion movies like First Blood or The Terminator, the martial arts sub-genre proved equally enjoyable and spectacular, cementing motion staples like Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Kurt Russell of their respective Hollywood legend statuses. These movies did not simply mix martial arts with motion, however created some really iconic movies by mixing in issues like slapstick comedy and emotional coming-of-age tales, and creating memorable characters that may be remembered even 30+ years later.

Most of the favored and finest martial arts movies of the Seventies centered round totally different Asian cultures and promoted to a principally non-white viewers. However, even with the tragic loss of life of martial arts movie staple Bruce Lee, the Nineteen Eighties offered movies with more-notable stars from many ethnicities and places on the planet. The new movies did not lose the standard that nice Seventies movies had beforehand delivered to the desk, they’d a bump in movie-making magic and results, and nonetheless pulled inspiration from the implausible movies made beforehand. Here are our greatest ranked martial arts movies from the Nineteen Eighties.

Related: Best Martial Arts Movies from the ’70s, Ranked

8 The Karate Kid Part II (1986)Karate Kid pt 2 - 1986

A number of followers of The Karate Kid collection take into account the primary two movies as neck-and-neck relating to high quality. Where the primary Karate Kid movie centered extra on Daniel’s coming-of-age story, the vast majority of The Karate Kid Part II‘s story centered on Mr. Miyagi’s previous and creating that character deeply. Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Miyagi (Pat Morita) go away the match storyline behind and journey to Japan collectively so Miyagi can say goodbye to his father, who’s on his deathbed. While in Okinawa, a corrupt industrialist named Sato endangers Miyagi’s village, and Daniel finds a brand new love curiosity in Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita). After unintentionally outing Sato’s nephew Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) for operating a corrupt enterprise, the movie ends with Daniel and Chozen in an honorable struggle to the loss of life. The complete theme of this movie is modified from the primary within the collection, however in a great way, creating beloved characters by way of emotional hardships.


7 Wheels on Meals (1984)Wheels on Meals - 1984

In a modernized Three Musketeers-style movie from Hong Kong, Wheels on Meals stars Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao as brother Thomas and David. The two personal a meals van in Barcelona, and run right into a pickpocket (Lola Forner) who occurs to be the inheritor to an enormous inheritance. She’s kidnaped by a neighborhood legal gang, and the 2 brothers workforce up with a goofy non-public investigator named Moby (Sammo Hung), and the three tackle the gang with the intention to save her. All three predominant actors additionally appeared in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. This movie has wonderful martial arts motion sequences, together with one among Jackie Chan’s hardest fights on movie, and had a good quantity of comedy peppered in. The movie was initially titled Meals on Wheels, however as a result of being superstitious, the manufacturing firm, Golden Harvest, had the identify modified as a result of their final two film titles had additionally begun with the letter “M”, and been flops. Wheels on Meals was additionally the unfastened inspiration for the arcade combating sport, Kung-Fu Fighter, which launched in Japan as Spartan X.


6 Kickboxer (1989)Kickboxer - 1989

In this tournament-style martial arts movie that starred and was partly written by Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kurt Sloane should prepare in Muay Thai with the intention to get revenge after his brother was maliciously paralyzed by the ill-natured Tong “The Tiger” Po. Kickboxer options a number of the finest match combating of 80s cinema, an unbelievable coaching montage, and a rocking soundtrack from Paul Hertzog. Van Damme choreographed all of the coaching and struggle scenes himself, in addition to the dance strikes he not too long ago re-enacted. This movie turned among the best motion movies of the 80s, and spawned 4 sequels and a reboot since its launch.

5 The Last Dragon (1985)The Last Dragon - 1985

Michael Shultz’s motion comedy The Last Dragon places an absurd spin on a Bruce Lee-style movie. In this one, a younger man from NYC named Leroy (Taimak) should seek for a grasp to show him the best stage of martial arts, referred to as “The Glow”. Another martial arts grasp by the identify of Sho’nuff (Julius Carry) sees Leroy as a problem to be the true grasp, and desires to take him out. This movie got here on the tale-end of 70s-early 80s Blaxsploitation movies, and though it was a essential failure, tons of individuals went to see it, because it smashed it is $10 million funds with $33 million box-office {dollars}. The movie boasted colourful costumes and memorable characters, and the theme tune, “Rhythm Of The Night” by DeBarge ranked #3 on the Billboards Hot 100 chart and #1 on Billboards R&B Charts in 1985.

Related: These Are the Best Blaxploitation Classics, and Why the Term is Troubling

4 Police Story (1985)Police Story - 1985

Though the main target of Police Story is extra crime/thriller based mostly than martial arts, Jackie Chan typically brings the A-game when genre-blending his unbelievable martial arts abilities into different areas. Not solely did this movie have wonderful martial arts fights, however enormous, explosive motion scenes as effectively. Police Story follows Chan Ka Kui (Chan), a Hong Kong cop that should clear his identify after a drug lord frames him for the homicide of a corrupt officer. Chan received his solely Hong Kong Academy Best Picture Award with this movie, and it stays his favourite movie that he is been in to at the present time. The movie went on to spawn 5 sequels, most of which star Chan, and impressed many American motion movies, like Tango & Cash and Rapid Fire.


3 Bloodsport (1988)Bloodsport - 1988

In Jean-Claude Van Damme’s finest martial arts movie, Bloodsport follows Frank Dux, a U.S. Army Captain skilled in martial arts, who’s invited to participate within the unlawful Hong Kong combating match referred to as the Kumite, with out being caught by pesky CID brokers. The solid is full of memorable characters, performed by Donald Gibb (Revenge of the Nerds), Forest Whitaker, and Bolo Yeung. Yeung performed no doubt among the best villains of the 80s, with implausible strains like “You break my report, now I break you, like I break your buddy“. Though Bloodsport obtained low essential scores, the movie blew up its $2.3 million funds with $50 million box-office {dollars}, making it probably the most worthwhile movie for Canon Group in 1988. The movie additionally spawned three sequels all through the Nineties.


2 Big Trouble in Little China (1986)Big Trouble in Little China - 1986

Horror grasp John Carpenter determined to take a break from his traditional spooky antics and introduced the world one of many best comedies of all time, that occurs even be a full-on martial arts movie. Kurt Russell took the primary stage as trucker Jack Burton, who should assist his buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) get the love of his life again from the evil sorcerer David Lo Pan (James Hong). This movie is simply as a lot fantasy as it’s comedy and martial arts, with some wonderful battles between ninjas and “The Three Storms”, who’s powers manipulated the climate. There had been creepy creatures, fantastical magic, and glorious choreography all through your complete movie, delivering a number of the most memorable characters of the 80s. Big Trouble in Little China additionally impressed game-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias of their creation of particular characters in Mortal Kombat.


1 The Karate Kid (1984)

the-karate-kid
Columbia Pictures

In the movie we named our #1 coming-of-age movie of the 80s, The Karate Kid encompasses the whole lot wanted to be an virtually excellent all-around-film. The sheer emotional depth, themes, and memorable characters alone are sufficient to warrant it an incredible movie, however the martial arts side is implausible as effectively. The Karate Kid does not simply restrict itself to fights, however the causes behind them, and focus that wants to enter them. It’s extra concerning the concept of the martial arts than the humanities themselves, although we do get some enjoyable scenes of Miyagi beating up a bunch of youngsters. This movie has all the perfect components of an emotional story and a match fighter film in a single movie. The movie proved a hit with Pat Morita getting a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and spawning three sequels, a remake, and still-running Netflix collection that continues the unique story.


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