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The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s 

Ranker Film
Updated October 2, 2019 3.3k votes 879 voters 25.2k views 41 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite martial arts films that were released in the 1970s

When you hear the name Bruce Lee, it automatically makes you think of some of the best kung fu movies from the 1970s. ‘70s kung fu movies are some of the most badass martial arts films of all time due to their fearless actors and fighters. The 1970s saw a backlash against wuxia-style martial arts films, which contain elements of fantasy and swordplay. The re-emergence of kung fu cinema brought gritty realism back to the silver screen. Even those less familiar with this particular era of film history will certainly remember some of Lee's most iconic films, such as Return of the Dragon.


What are the greatest ‘70s kung fu films? Robert Clouse, the famed American director of martial arts films, has several films on this list, including Bruce Lee’s only English-speaking starring role in Enter the Dragon. You will also find numerous films directed by - or starring - Sammo Hung, the Hong Kong new wave titan.


If you’re a fan of hip-hop pioneers, The Wu-Tang Clan, you might recognize The 36th Chamber of Shaolin as a major cultural influence on the group. This list of the top ‘70s kung fu movies has something for everyone, from Australian new wave flicks, like The Man from Hong Kong, to awesome, obscure pictures like Dance of the Drunk Mantis.
 
Vote up the best kung fu and martial arts films from the 1970s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section! 

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1
Enter the Dragon is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung

Released: 1973

Directed by: Robert Clouse

Enter the Dragon is a 1973 Hong Kong martial arts action film directed by Robert Clouse; starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly. The film was released on 26 July 1973 in Hong Kong. He was ...more

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#1,203 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #70 of 92 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies #71 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

2
Return of the Dragon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao

Released: 1972

Directed by: Bruce Lee

Way of the Dragon is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film written, produced and directed by Bruce Lee, who also stars in the lead role. This was Bruce Lee's only completed ...more
3
Five Deadly Venoms is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Philip Kwok, Chiang Sheng, Feng Lu

Released: 1978

Directed by: Chang Cheh

Five Venoms aka Five Deadly Venoms is a cult 1978 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Chang Cheh, starring the Venom Mob, and produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio, about five kung-fu ...more

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#530 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #15 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies #5 of 33 The Best Martial Arts Movies Streaming on Netflix

4
Drunken Master is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Jackie Chan, Hwang Jang-lee, Lin Dai

Released: 1978

Directed by: Yuen Woo-ping

Drunken Master is a 1978 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Yuen Woo-ping, and starring Jackie Chan, Yuen Siu-tien, and Hwang Jang Lee. The film was a success at the Hong Kong box office, ...more

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#159 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #246 of 388 The Best Movies to Watch While Stoned #158 of 312 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

5
The 36th Chamber of Shao... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Chia Hui Liu, Lau Kar-wing, Shen Chan

Released: 1978

Directed by: Lau Kar-leung

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, also known as The Master Killer and Shaolin Master Killer, is a 1978 Shaw Brothers kung fu film directed by Liu Chia-liang and starring Gordon Liu. The film follows ...more

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#92 of 92 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies #560 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #14 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies

6
Fist of Fury is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Nora Miao

Released: 1972

Directed by: Lo Wei

Fist of Fury, also known as The Chinese Connection and The Iron Hand in the United States, is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Lo Wei, starring Bruce Lee in his second major role ...more

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#247 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #199 of 740 The Greatest Action Movies of All Time #3 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies

7
The Chinese Connection ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
8
Five Fingers of Death is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s

Released: 1978

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
9
The Game of Death is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris

Released: 1978

Directed by: Sammo Hung, Bruce Lee, Robert Clouse

This film is an incomplete 1972 Hong Kong martial arts film directed, written, produced by and starring Bruce Lee, in his final film attempt. Lee passed during the making of the film. The ...more

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#29 of 51 The 25+ Best MMA Movies About Fighting #476 of 740 The Greatest Action Movies of All Time #19 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies

10
Master of the Flying Gui... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Philip Kwok, Lau Kar-wing, Kang Chin

Released: 1976

Directed by: Jimmy Wang

Master of the Flying Guillotine is a 1976 Taiwanese wuxia film starring Jimmy Wang Yu, who also wrote and directed the film. It is a sequel to Wang's 1971 film One Armed Boxer, and thus the film ...more

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#42 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies #29 of 131 The Best Wuxia Movies #20 of 200 The Best R-Rated Martial Arts Movies

11
Snake in the Eagle's Sha... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Jackie Chan, Hwang Jang-lee, Yuen Siu-tien

Released: 1978

Directed by: Yuen Woo-ping

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow is a 1978 Hong Kong martial arts action film directed by Yuen Woo-ping in his directorial debut, and starring Jackie Chan, Hwang Jang Lee and Yuen Woo-ping's real ...more

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#67 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies #22 of 101 The Best Jackie Chan Movies of All Time

12
Crippled Avengers is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Philip Kwok, Chiang Sheng, Miao Ching

Released: 1978

Directed by: Chang Cheh

Crippled Avengers is a 1978 Shaw Brothers kung fu film directed by Chang Cheh and starring four members of the Venom Mob. It has been released in North America as Mortal Combat and Return of the ...more
13
Heroes of the East is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Chia Hui Liu, Yasuaki Kurata, Lung Chan

Released: 1978

Directed by: Lau Kar-leung

Heroes of the East, also known as Challenge Of The Ninja, Shaolin Vs. Ninja and Shaolin Challenges Ninja is a martial arts film produced in 1978. It starred Gordon Liu and was directed by Lau ...more
14
Snake & Crane Arts o... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Jackie Chan, Nora Miao, Kang Chin

Released: 1978

Directed by: Chen Chi Hwa

Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin is a 1978 Hong Kong action film directed by Chen Chi Hwa and starring Jackie Chan. It was released by the Lo Wei Motion Picture Company, a subsidiary of Golden ...more
15
Warriors Two is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Lau Kar-wing

Released: 1978

Directed by: Sammo Hung

Warriors Two is a 1978 Hong Kong martial arts film written and directed by Sammo Hung, who also co-stars in the film. The film stars Bryan Leung, Casanova Wong and Fung Hak-on. Leung plays the ...more

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#152 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies #76 of 200 The Best R-Rated Martial Arts Movies #179 of 202 The Best R-Rated World Cinema Movies

16
The Street Fighter is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Sonny Chiba, Yutaka Nakajima, Tony Cetera

Released: 1974

Directed by: Shigehiro Ozawa

The Street Fighter, literally Clash, Killer Fist!, is a Japanese martial arts film released in 1974 and produced by Toei Company Ltd. It was released in the US by New Line Cinema and became one ...more

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#139 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies #24 of 52 The Best '70s Action Movies #53 of 200 The Best R-Rated Martial Arts Movies

17
Disciples of Shaolin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Alexander Fu Sheng, Hark-On Fung, Chiang Han

Released: 1975

Directed by: Chang Cheh

18
Dance of the Drunk Manti... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Hwang Jang-lee, Corey Yuen, Dean Shek

Released: 1979

Directed by: Yuen Woo-ping

Dance of the Drunk Mantis is a 1979 Hong Kong kung fu comedy film directed by Yuen Siu-tien's real life son Yuen Woo-ping, starring Yuen Siu-tien, Hwang Jang Lee, Linda Lin, Yuen Shun-yee, ...more
19
Return to the 36th Chamb... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
I'Ron Green added Chia Hui Liu, Hsiao Ho

Released: 1980

Directed by: Lau Kar-leung

Return to the 36th Chamber is a 1980 Shaw Brothers Studio Hong Kong martial arts comedy film starring Gordon Liu. It was directed by Lau Kar-Leung and written by Ni Kuang. The film is the second ...more
20
Shaolin Temple is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Philip Kwok, Alexander Fu Sheng, David Chiang

Released: 1976

Directed by: Chang Cheh

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Shaolin Temple aka Death Chambers is a Shaw Brothers film directed by Chang Cheh. It is one of the Shaolin Temple themed martial arts films and concerns their rebellion against the Qings, with ...more
21
Return of the Street Fig... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Sonny Chiba, Shingo Yamashiro, Masafumi Suzuki

Released: 1974

Directed by: Shigehiro Ozawa

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Return of the Street Fighter is a 1974 martial arts film and the second in a series starting with The Street Fighter starring Sonny Chiba. In this sequel, Martial artist Takuma Tsurugi returns ...more

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#138 of 200 The Best R-Rated Martial Arts Movies #37 of 43 The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s #78 of 121 The Best R-Rated Japanese Movies

22
Black Belt Jones is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Scatman Crothers, Jim Kelly, Eric Laneuville

Released: 1974

Directed by: Robert Clouse

Black Belt Jones is a 1974 American Blaxploitation action film directed by Robert Clouse and starring Jim Kelly. The main musical theme was performed by funk guitarist Dennis Coffey.
23
Dirty Ho is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Chia Hui Liu, Lung Wei Wang, Wong Yue

Released: 1976

Directed by: Lau Kar-leung

Dirty Ho is a 1979 Hong Kong martial arts-comedy film directed by Lau Kar-leung and starring Gordon Liu and Wong Yue.
24
Lady Snowblood is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
Meiko Kaji, Kō Nishimura, Miyoko Akaza

Released: 1973

Directed by: Toshiya Fujita

Lady Snowblood is a 1973 Japanese film directed by Toshiya Fujita and starring Meiko Kaji. It is based on a manga called Shurayukihime. It is the story of Yuki, a woman who seeks vengeance upon ...more

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#411 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #34 of 83 Great Movies About Furious Women Out for Revenge #60 of 69 Movies with the Most Hardcore Women

25
Shaolin Master Killer is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s
I'Ron Green added