The Best '60s Kung Fu Movies

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

'60s kung fu, and other martial arts movies, represent some of the best titles in Hong Kong action-cinema history. American films are conspicuously absent from this list, as Hong Kong and Taiwanese filmmakers churned out captivating tales of betrayal, revenge, and romance throughout the decade.

What are the best ‘60s kung fu and other martial arts movies? The 1960s saw a return to the wuxia style of film making - a style that had been politically suppressed in the 1930s and ‘40s. Wuxia films contain elements of fantasy, often set in historical Chinese epochs such as the Ming Dynasty, and involve using weapons in combat, such as swords, spears, and staffs. Shaw Brothers Studios, the venerated Hong Kong film production company, is responsible for many of the greatest ‘60s kung fu and other martial arts movies. Their in-house directors went on to produce countless genre classics. King Hu, a Shaw Brothers director, helmed the classic wuxia film Come Drink With Me, noted for its use of a strong female protagonist.

Another big name in Hong Kong cinema was Chang Cheh, director of The One-Armed Swordsman. This seminal film represented a shift in the wuxia style, leading to a trend of male antiheroes, violent swordplay, and extreme hand-to-hand combat.

Eventually, the wuxia films of the 1960s gave way to the gritty kung fu films of the 1970s, but not before leaving an indelible legacy. The movies on this list proved highly influential to future generations of filmmakers, and there are plenty of good ‘60s kung fu and other martial arts movies to choose from. Help us rank this list by voting up your favorites. Are you a wuxia supporter, or more of a kung fu acolyte? Let us know what you think in the comment section!

Photo: flickr / CC0
Ranked by
  • The One-Armed Swordsman
    Jimmy Wang, Chung-Hsin Huang, Lisa Chiao Chiao
    57 votes
    • Released: 1967
    • Directed by: Chang Cheh
    One-Armed Swordsman is a 1967 Hong Kong wuxia film produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio. Directed by Chang Cheh, it was the first of the new style of wuxia films emphasizing male anti-heroes, violent ...more
  • Come Drink with Me
    Cheng Pei-pei, Hua Yueh, Hung Lieh Chen
    34 votes
    • Released: 1966
    • Directed by: King Hu
    A fast-kicking female (Pei-pei Cheng) is dispatched to rescue her own brother from kidnappers.

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  • The Invincible Fist
    25 votes
  • The Steel Edge of Revenge

    The Steel Edge of Revenge

    31 votes
  • Return of the One-Armed Swordsman
    Jimmy Wang, Tien Feng, Lisa Chiao Chiao
    31 votes
    • Released: 1969
    • Directed by: Chang Cheh
    Return of the One-Armed Swordsman, also known as One-Armed Swordsman Return, is a 1969 Hong Kong wuxia film directed by Chang Cheh and produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio. The film is a sequel to ...more
  • Kill!
    Tatsuya Nakadai, Eijirō Tōno, Tadao Nakamaru
    22 votes
    • Released: 1968
    • Directed by: Kihachi Okamoto
    Kill! is a 1968 film directed by Kihachi Okamoto, written by Akira Murao, Kihachi Okamoto, and Shūgorō Yamamoto and starring Tatsuya Nakadai.