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The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies 

Ranker Film
505 votes 253 voters 7.6k views 16 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite martial arts films that were released in the 1960s

The greatest ‘50s kung fu and other martial arts movies are a diverse group of films from all over Asia. Production companies in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan made influential and well-regarded movies full of epic battles, devastating betrayals, and beautiful fight sequences.


So what are the top ‘50s kung fu and other martial arts movies? In the 1950s, the Hong Kong film industry had not yet reached the levels of sophistication it would go on to achieve in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Many martial arts films of the ‘50s told the story of Huang Fei Hong, a popular Chinese folk hero and martial arts master. This character practically dominated the box office, appearing in countless films of the decade.

Japan also began to produce some of the best ‘50s kung fu and other martial arts movies. One director is responsible for a great many of these classic titles: Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa directed Seven Samurai (the film that inspired the classic western, The Magnificent Seven), The Hidden Fortress, and Rashomon.


On this list, you’ll also find Bruce Lee’s first starring role as a 10 year-old boy in
The Kid. Lee would go on to appear in many of the best ‘70s kung fu movies. Vote up the best martial arts films of the '50s, and let us know what you think in the comment section!

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1
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Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Eijirō Tōno

Released: 1954

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese Jidaigeki adventure film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven ronin to combat bandits ...more

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2
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Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Machiko Kyō

Released: 1950

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa, working in close collaboration with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa. It stars Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori ...more

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3
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Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Makatari Fujiwara

Released: 1958

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

The Hidden Fortress is a 1958 jidaigeki film directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune as General Makabe Rokurōta and Misa Uehara as Princess Yuki.
4
The Kid is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
Bruce Lee, Feng Feng, Lee Hoi-chuen

Released: 1950

Directed by: Feng Feng

The Kid, also known as Kid Cheung and My Son A-Chang, is a 1950 Hong Kong drama film starring the then 10-year old Bruce Lee in his first leading role in the title role of "Kid ...more
5
Tiger from Tjampa is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
Wahid Chan, Nurnaningsih, RD Ismail

Released: 1953

Directed by: D. Djajakusuma

Tiger from Tjampa is an Indonesian black and white drama film released in 1953, produced by Perfini, written and directed by D. Djajakusuma. It is still highly regarded today in Indonesia as an ...more
6
Huang Fei Hong Vied for ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
Huang Fei Hong Vied for the Firecrackers at Huadi
7
Rickshaw Man is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
Toshiro Mifune, Chishū Ryū, Nobuo Nakamura

Released: 1958

Directed by: Hiroshi Inagaki

Rickshaw Man is a 1958 color Japanese film directed by Hiroshi Inagaki. It tells the story of Muhōmatsu, a rickshaw man, starring Toshiro Mifune who becomes a surrogate father to the child of a ...more
8
Heroine of Deadly Darts ... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
Heroine of Deadly Darts
9
Pendekar Bujang Lapok is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
P. Ramlee, Aziz Sattar, S. Shamsuddin

Released: 1959

Directed by: P. Ramlee

Pendekar Bujang Lapok is a 1959 Singaporean comedy film directed by P. Ramlee. It is the second in the Bujang Lapok series of films, and stars the trio of P. Ramlee, S. Shamsuddin and Aziz ...more
10
The Five Heroes’ Deadly ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
The Five Heroes’ Deadly Spears
11
Ranker Video
slaft added Steve Oedekerk, Philip Kwok, Lau Kar-wing

Released: 2002

Directed by: Steve Oedekerk

Kung Pow! Enter the Fist is a 2002 American martial arts comedy film that parodies Hong Kong action cinema. Starring Steve Oedekerk, it uses footage from the 1976 Hong Kong martial arts movie ...more

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12
How Huang Fei Hong Vanqu... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
How Huang Fei Hong Vanquished the 12 Lions
13
Samurai Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
Shintaro Katsu, Ichikawa Raizō VIII, Saburo Date

Released: 1959

Directed by: Kazuo Mori

Samurai Vendetta is a 1959 Japanese Chambara film directed by Kazuo Mori starring Raizo Ichikawa and Shintaro Katsu, originally released by Daiei Film. It is seen as a depiction of the early ...more
14
The Boxer of Nanhai is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
The Boxer of Nanhai
15
The Silver World of Star... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
The Silver World of Stardom
16
How Shaolin Monastery wa... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies
How Shaolin Monastery was Reduced to Ashes