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The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s 

Ranker Film
Updated July 8, 2019 2.5k votes 476 voters 17.8k views 42 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite martial arts films that were released in the 1980s

The best ‘80s kung fu movies, and other martial arts movies, embody the rugged individualism and spirit of the decade; a time when the most exciting films involved non-stop action and intense fight scenes. Many of these films are about one man taking a solo journey to defy the odds and defeat his enemies - and let’s not forget, getting the girl while he’s at it.

What are the top ‘80s kung fu and other martial arts movies? Jackie Chan's films dominated the silver screen in the 1980s and 1990s. In ‘85 he wrote, directed, and starred in Police Story, a film Chan would later say was his personal favorite. The film spawned several sequels, and kept Jackie Chan in the public eye throughout the ‘80s. For '80s martial arts stars, this decade was all about the hero's journey. Be it the underdog hero from the Karate Kid or the unstoppable powerhouse, Chuck Norris, audiences were treated to countless acts of individual bravery.

If you’re familiar with ‘80s kung fu and other martial arts movies, you may know the work of legendary director Sammo Hung, a pioneer of the Hong Kong New Wave movement. Many of his classic films are featured on this list.

 

 

Vote up the best '80s kung fu and other martial arts films, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section!  

 

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1
Bloodsport is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Forest Whitaker, Bolo Yeung

Released: 1988

Directed by: Newt Arnold

Bloodsport is a 1988 American martial arts film directed by Newt Arnold, and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Roy Chiao, Donald Gibb and Leah Ayres. The film is partly based on unverified claims ...more

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2
The Karate Kid is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Elisabeth Shue, Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita

Released: 1984

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts romantic drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, starring Ralph Macchio, who was 22 years old during principal ...more

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3
Big Trouble in Little Ch... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, John Carpenter

Released: 1986

Directed by: John Carpenter

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Big Trouble in Little China is a 1986 American action film directed by John Carpenter, and starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun and James Hong. The film was released in the United ...more

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#211 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #67 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #174 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

4
Kickboxer is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lau Kar-wing, Haskell V. Anderson III

Released: 1989

Directed by: David Worth, Mark DiSalle

Kickboxer is a 1989 American martial arts film produced and directed by Mark DiSalle, and co-directed by David Worth. The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and former world kickboxing champion ...more

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5
Best of the Best is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
James Earl Jones, Eric Roberts, Louise Fletcher

Released: 1989

Directed by: Robert Radler, Bob Radler

Best of the Best is a 1989 American martial arts film directed by Bob Radler, and produced by Phillip Rhee, who also co-stars in the film. The film also starring Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones ...more
6
The Last Dragon is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
William H. Macy, Vanity, Keshia Knight Pulliam

Released: 1985

Directed by: Michael Schultz

The Last Dragon is a 1985 martial arts musical film produced by Rupert Hitzig for Berry Gordy and directed by Michael Schultz. The film was a critical disappointment but a financial success, and ...more

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7
The Karate Kid, Part II ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Tamlyn Tomita

Released: 1986

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

The Karate Kid, Part II is a 1986 American martial arts film. A sequel to 1984's The Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita reprise their respective roles as young karate student Daniel ...more

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8
Police Story is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung

Released: 1985

Directed by: Jackie Chan

Police Story is a 1985 Hong Kong action film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role. It is the first of the Police Story series featuring Chan as a Hong Kong ...more

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#442 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #310 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #71 of 102 The 100+ Best Movies Streaming On The Criterion Channel

9
No Retreat, No Surrender... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
MatthewGill added Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kim Tai-chung, Kurt McKinney

Released: 1986

Directed by: Corey Yuen

No Retreat, No Surrender is a 1986 American martial arts film directed by Corey Yuen in his American directorial debut, and starring Kurt McKinney and Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film was ...more
10
American Ninja is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Michael Dudikoff, Tadashi Yamashita, Steve James

Released: 1985

Directed by: Sam Firstenberg

American Ninja is a 1985 ninja action film produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus's Cannon Films. Directed by Sam Firstenberg, who specialized in this genre in the 1980s, the film stars ...more

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11
Police Story 2 is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Bill Tung

Released: 1988

Directed by: Jackie Chan

Police Story 2 is a 1988 Hong Kong action crime comedy film written, directed by and starring Jackie Chan as Chan Ka-kui. It is a sequel to the hit 1985 film, Police Story, continuing the ...more
12
Lone Wolf McQuade is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Chuck Norris, David Carradine, Barbara Carrera

Released: 1983

Directed by: Steve Carver

Lone Wolf McQuade is a 1983 action film, starring Chuck Norris, David Carradine, Barbara Carrera, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Leon Isaac Kennedy and Robert Beltran, and is directed by Steve ...more

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#726 of 735 The Greatest Action Movies of All Time #80 of 98 The Best Action Movies of the 1980s #149 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies

13
The Karate Kid, Part III... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Robyn Lively

Released: 1989

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

The Karate Kid, Part III is a 1989 martial arts film, and the second sequel to the hit motion picture The Karate Kid. The film stars Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki Morita and Robyn Lively. As was the ...more

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#436 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #108 of 118 Movies That Need Sequels

14
Wheels on Meals is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao

Released: 1984

Directed by: Sammo Hung

Wheels on Meals is a 1984 Hong Kong martial arts comedy film written and directed by Sammo Hung, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao.
15
Enter the Ninja is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Franco Nero, Christopher George, Sho Kosugi

Released: 1981

Directed by: Menahem Golan

Enter the Ninja is a 1981 martial arts film directed by Menahem Golan and starring Franco Nero, Susan George and Sho Kosugi. Production was started in the Philippines with Emmett Alston ...more
16
Cyborg is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dayle Haddon, Ralf Möller

Released: 1989

Directed by: Albert Pyun

Cyborg, known in the UK as Cyborg 009, is a 1989 American martial-arts science fiction film directed by Albert Pyun. Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Gibson Rickenbacker, a mercenary who battles a ...more

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17
The Octagon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Chuck Norris, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Carter

Released: 1980

Directed by: Eric Karson

The Octagon is a 1980 action film starring Chuck Norris, Karen Carlson and Lee Van Cleef. It was directed by Eric Karson and written by Paul Aaron and Leigh Chapman. It was filmed in Los ...more
18
The Young Master is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Tien Feng

Released: 1980

Directed by: Jackie Chan

The Young Master is a 1980 Hong Kong martial arts film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role. The film co-stars Yuen Biao, Feng Feng and Shih Kien. The film was ...more

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19
Project A is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao

Released: 1983

Directed by: Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan

Project A is a 1983 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. The film was released ...more
20
Blind Fury is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Rutger Hauer, Terry O'Quinn, Randall "Tex" Cobb

Released: 1990

Directed by: Phillip Noyce

Blind Fury is a 1989 American samurai/action film written by Charles Robert Carner and directed by Phillip Noyce. It is a loosely based, modernized version of Zatoichi Challenged, the 17th film ...more

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21
Revenge of the Ninja is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Professor Tanaka, Sho Kosugi, Virgil Frye

Released: 1983

Directed by: Sam Firstenberg

Revenge of the Ninja is an action film starring Sho Kosugi as a ninja. It is considered part of a ninja trilogy, starting with Enter the Ninja and ending with Ninja III: The Domination, but the ...more
22
Code of Silence is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Chuck Norris, John Mahoney, Dennis Farina

Released: 1985

Directed by: Andrew Davis

Code of Silence is a 1985 American action film directed by Andrew Davis, and starring Chuck Norris and Henry Silva. The film was released in the United States on May 3, 1985. It was typical for ...more
23
Remo Williams: The Adven... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Anthony Hopkins, Kate Mulgrew, Wilford Brimley

Released: 1985

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, also released as Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous, is a 1985 American action-adventure-thriller film directed by Guy Hamilton. The film featured Fred Ward, Joel ...more

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24
The Big Brawl is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jackie Chan, José Ferrer, Rosalind Chao

Released: 1980

Directed by: Robert Clouse

The Big Brawl, also known as Battle Creek Brawl, is a 1980 martial arts film which marked Jackie Chan's first attempt to break into the American movie market. It was directed by Robert Clouse ...more
25
Armour of God is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1980s
Jackie Chan, Carina Lau, Alan Tam

Released: 1986

Directed by: Eric Tsang, Jackie Chan

Armour of God is a 1986 Hong Kong action film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Alan Tam, Lola Forner and Rosamund Kwan. The film features ...more