The All-Time Greatest Martial Arts Actors

Over 11.1K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The All-Time Greatest Martial Arts Actors
Voting Rules

Vote up your favorite film fighters of all time.

This list of the all time greatest martial arts actors (and actresses) is ranked by action fans worldwide. Anyone can vote on the best martial artists here, which means these actors are truly fan favorites. Whether they have magical screen presence or just the physical abilities to make your jaw drop, these famous actors represent the best in kicking butt.

Though the genre of martial arts films is also occasionally known as "kung fu films," the term in fact only refers to a subset of Chinese martial arts, and can also apply to a variety of traditional practices not directly related to self-defense. (Wushu is the more accurate blanket term for Chinese martial arts and fighting techniques.) The performers on this list practice a variety of martial arts traditions and styles, including the "Jeet Kun Do" techniques innovated by people like Bruce Lee, the Muay Thai style of Tony Jaa, or the traditional karate employed by Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Who are the best martial arts actors of all time? These performers also represent a variety of nationalities, including Chinese, Japanese, Thai and American actors. Vote up your favorite martial artists below.

Most divisive: David Carradine
Ranked by
  • Bruce Lee
    San Francisco, California, USA
    5,356 votes
    • Credits (Film): Enter the Dragon, Limitless, Fist of Fury, Return of the Dragon, The Big Boss

    A legend in the world of martial arts, Bruce Lee was an actor and filmmaker who introduced the world to the Chinese martial art of Jeet Kune Do. Known for his roles in films such as Enter the Dragon and Fist of Fury, Lee's lightning-fast speed and powerful technique inspired countless people to take up martial arts. Sadly, his life was cut short at the age of 32, but his legacy continues to influence martial artists and actors worldwide.

  • Jackie Chan
    Victoria Peak, Hong Kong
    4,551 votes
    • Credits (Film): Kung Fu Panda, Rush Hour, Enter the Dragon, Around the World in 80 Days, Rush Hour 2

    With his comedic timing and incredible stunt work, Jackie Chan has entertained audiences for decades in both the Eastern and Western film industries. With over 150 films under his belt, Chan's acrobatic fighting style and death-defying stunts distinguish him from other martial artists. Some of his most popular films include Rush HourDrunken Master, and Police Story.

  • Jet Li
    China, Beijing
    4,151 votes
    • Credits (Film): The Expendables, The Expendables 2, Hero, Lethal Weapon 4, The Expendables 3

    Born in Beijing, Jet Li is a world-class martial artist known for his stunningly fast and precise movements. A former Wushu champion, Li transitioned into acting with breakout roles in movies like Once Upon a Time in China and Fist of Legend. He later gained international fame with his performances in Hollywood blockbusters like Lethal Weapon 4 and The Expendables franchise.

  • Donnie Yen
    Taishan, China
    3,180 votes
    • Credits (Film): Blade II, Hero, Ip Man, Ip Man 2, Shanghai Knights

    Hong Kong-based action star Donnie Yen is renowned for his grounded and powerful martial arts skills. A skilled practitioner of various styles including Wing Chun and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Yen has acted in martial arts films such as Iron Monkey and the Ip Man series. He's also appeared in Western films, including the hugely popular Star Wars: Rogue One.

  • Michelle Yeoh
    Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
    2,167 votes
    • Credits (Film): Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sunshine, Kung Fu Panda 2, Tomorrow Never Dies

    Hailing from Malaysia, Michelle Yeoh is a top-notch martial artist and actress known for her elegance and athleticism. Her ballet training allows her to execute graceful and fluid movements in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Supercop. Yeoh has also delved into Hollywood movies, notably as a Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies and a leading role in Crazy Rich Asians.

  • Tony Jaa
    Phanom Dong Rak District
    2,412 votes
    • Credits (Film): Furious 7, Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, The Protector, Ong Bak 2: The Beginning, Ong Bak 3

    Emerging from Thailand, Tatchakorn Yeerum, better known as Tony Jaa, is celebrated for his explosive and acrobatic Muay Thai fighting style. Known for his impressive stunts and brutal fight scenes, Jaa burst onto the scene with his starring role in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. Fans also appreciate his work in the Furious 7 and xXx: Return of Xander Cage.