'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!