The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies

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!

Ranked by
  • Seven Samurai
    Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Eijirō Tōno
    66 votes
    • 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 who ...more

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  • Rashomon
    Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Machiko Kyō
    39 votes
    • 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 and ...more
  • The Hidden Fortress
    Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Makatari Fujiwara
    36 votes
    • 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.
  • The Kid
    Bruce Lee, Feng Feng, Lee Hoi-chuen
    31 votes
    • 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 Cheung", based on a ...more