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The Best '50s Martial Arts & Kung Fu Movies

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List RulesVote 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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    Seven Samurai

    Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    Released1954

    Directed byAkira 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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  • 2
    30
    11

    Rashomon

    Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    Released1950

    Directed byAkira 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

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    24
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    The Kid

    Bruce Lee, Feng Feng

    Released1950

    Directed byFeng 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
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    16
    14

    Tiger from Tjampa

    Wahid Chan, Nurnaningsih

    Released1953

    Directed byD. 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 early...  more
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    The Hidden Fortress

    Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    Released1958

    Directed byAkira 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....  more

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    Huang Fei Hong Vied for the Firecrackers at Huadi

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    The Five Heroes’ Deadly Spears

  • 8
    11
    14

    Pendekar Bujang Lapok

    P. Ramlee, Aziz Sattar

    Released1959

    Directed byP. 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 Sattar,...  more
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    The Boxer of Nanhai

  • 10
    5
    9

    The Silver World of Stardom

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    Heroine of Deadly Darts

  • 12
    7
    16

    Samurai Vendetta

    Shintaro Katsu, Ichikawa Raizō VIII

    Released1959

    Directed byKazuo 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 years of...  more
  • 13
    11
    25

    Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

    Steve Oedekerk, Philip Kwok

    Released2002

    Directed bySteve 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 Tiger...  more

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  • 14
    11
    27

    Rickshaw Man

    Toshiro Mifune, Chishū Ryū

    Released1958

    Directed byHiroshi 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
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    How Huang Fei Hong Vanquished the 12 Lions

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    How Shaolin Monastery was Reduced to Ashes