Five star films

There are a lot of films on this website. Sometimes you might not want to sift through all the reviews to find the next gem to hunt down and watch. Particularly if you’re new to the genre, you might just want to cut to the chase, and only check out the really good stuff. Well, if you’re looking for a bona fide classic to watch, then look no further than our list of five star films.

This list highlights all of the films on this website which have been bestowed with the highly coveted five-star Kung Fu Movie Guide seal of approval. But remember, the list is not definitive. New movies are being added to the database on a regular basis, which means it is subject to change. So make sure you keep returning to this page to check out the latest additions.

Angel (1987)
Origin: Taiwan; Studio: Molesworth Limited Productions; Directors: Ivan Lai Gai-ming, Raymond Leung Pun-hei; Cast: Moon Lee Choi-fung, Yukari Oshima, Alex Fong Chung-sun, David Chiang Da-wei, Elaine Lui Siu-ling, Hwang Jang-lee, Saijo Hideki.
This fun, action-packed and uniquely Far Eastern take on the Charlie’s Angels story was the first and best of the so-called ‘girls with guns’ sub-genre, and made action stars out of Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima.

The Blood Brothers (1973)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Shaw Brothers; Director: Chang Cheh; Cast: Ti Lung, David Chiang Da-wei, Chen Kuan-tai, Ching Li, Fan Mei-sheng, Tin Ching, Cheng Miu.
Chang Cheh channels the biblical epics of classic Hollywood to create a lavish, hot-tempered extravaganza with rich landscapes and sprawling battle scenes, exploring how power and lust corrupts even the closest of allies.

The Bride with White Hair (1993)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Mandarin Films; Director: Ronny Yu Yan-tai; Cast: Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, Eddy Ko Hung, Elaine Lui Siu-ling, Francis Ng Chun-yu, Yammie Nam Kit-ying.
A beguiling, sensual and twisted masterpiece, Ronny Yu’s tale of star-crossed lovers is part fantasy, part wuxia drama and partly bonkers. It is one of the strangest and greatest Hong Kong films ever made with a magnificent performance from Brigitte Lin in the titular role.

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Cinema City, Film Workshop; Director: Tony Ching Siu-tung; Cast: Joey Wang Cho-yin, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, Wu Ma, Daniel Lam Wai.
A landmark Hong Kong picture, this spiraling, zany supernatural romance zooms from being both angelic and chaotic, driven by Tony Ching’s unique wire-fu choreography. The film would also prove itself internationally as a leading example of Hong Kong’s cinematic ‘new wave’.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Origin: Hong Kong, Taiwan, United States; Studio: Sony Pictures; Director: Ang Lee; Cast: Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh Chu-kheng, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Cheng Pei-pei, Lung Sihung.
This was the moment when China’s indigenous cinema (the wuxia film) went mainstream with recognition at the Oscars. Ang Lee called his groundbreaking film Sense and Sensibility with martial arts; it’s a tragic romance with striking action and visuals.

Dirty Ho (1979)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Shaw Brothers; Director: Lau Kar-leung; Cast: Gordon Liu Chia-hui, Wong Yu, Kara Hui Ying-hung, Lo Lieh, Johnny Wang Lung-wei, Hsiao Ho.
Lau Kar-leung‘s introspective kung fu comedy centres on an ambiguous central relationship between master and pupil; one’s a pauper, the other a royal traveling incognito in shades of Shakespeare. The film contains some of Lau’s finest fight choreography, much of it cunningly disguised to protect the character’s hidden identities.

Dragon Gate Inn (1967)
Origin: Taiwan; Studio: Union Film; Director: King Hu Chin-chuan; Cast: Shih Chun, Polly Shang Kwan, Pai Ying, Sit Hon, Miao Tian, Han Ying-chieh.
A ramshackle two-level hostel and tea-house in the middle of nowhere is besieged by an all-powerful eunuch, a cross-dressing warrior woman, a kung fu scholar and hoards of Ming dynasty spies in this captivating King Hu wuxia classic. The film would set the tone for the rest of King Hu’s work and distinguish many of the archetypes found in martial arts cinema.

Drunken Master (1978)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Seasonal Films; Director: Yuen Woo-ping; Cast: Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen Siu-tien, Hwang Jang-lee, Dean Shek Tin, Hsu Hsia, Sunny Yuen Shun-yee, Tino Wong Cheung.
This confident chopsocky from the team behind Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow saw Yuen Woo-ping and Jackie Chan officially crowned as the kings of kung fu comedy, taking a slapstick approach to the early life of Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung.

Drunken Master II (1994)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest, Golden Way; Directors: Jackie Chan, Lau Kar-leung; Cast: Jackie Chan, Andy Lau Tak-wah, Anita Mui Yim-fong, Chin Kar-lok, Felix Wong Yat-wah, Ken Lo Wai-ko, Lau Kar-leung, Ti Lung.
Lau Kar-leung’s unrivaled kung fu intellect meets Jackie Chan’s clown-like persona head-on in this comedic delight from Hong Kong, which saw Chan return to a more traditional kung fu setting and reprise the Wong Fei-hung role which made him famous.

Drunken Master 2

Duel to the Death (1983)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest, Paragon Films; Director: Tony Ching Siu-tung; Cast: Norman Chu Siu-keung, Damian Lau Chung-yan, Eddy Ko Hung, Flora Cheung Tin-oi, Casanova Wong Ho.
Exhilarating, innovative and irreverent directorial debut from wire-work maestro Tony Ching Siu-tung, who creates a spiralling Ming dynasty wuxia film full of dramatic sword battles and gravity-defying ninja. A statement of intent from the visionary filmmaker.

Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Bo Ho Films, Golden Harvest; Director: Sammo Hung Kam-bo; Cast: Sammo Hung Kam-bo, Chung Fat, Peter Chan Lung, Wu Ma, Lam Ching-ying.
Although this may not have been Hong Kong’s first supernatural kung fu comedy, Sammo Hung’s much-loved black magic blockbuster was certainly the first success of its kind and inspired a slew of copycats.

Enter the Dragon (1973)
Origin: Hong Kong, United States; Studio: Concord Productions, Sequoia Productions, Warner Bros.; Director: Robert Clouse; Cast: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Shek Kin, Robert Wall, Bolo Yeung, Angela Mao Ying.
Robert Clouse’s Bond-inspired B-movie may have sunk without a trace if it wasn’t to be the final screen role for Bruce Lee, making his starring role debut in an American co-production. This highly influential film kick-started a global interest in kung fu which has lasted to this day.

Fist of Fury (1972)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest; Director: Lo Wei; Cast: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao Ker-hsiu, James Tien Chun, Maria Yi Dut, Paul Wei Ping-ao, Riki Hashimoto, Robert Baker, Tien Feng, Han Ying-chieh.
Bruce Lee’s most intense performance, the team behind The Big Boss relocated from Thailand to the Golden Harvest studio in Hong Kong to create this supercharged nationalistic chopsocky set during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai.

Fist of Legend (1994)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Eastern Productions, Golden Harvest; Director: Gordon Chan Ka-seung; Cast: Jet Li Lian-jie, Ada Choi Siu-fan, Billy Chow Bei-lei, Chin Siu-ho, Shinobu Nakayama, Yasuaki Kurata.
Gordon Chan adds clarity, resonance and empathy to his war-torn remake of the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury, casting Jet Li in the Chen Zhen role at the centre of a fight for national pride against a rival Japanese dojo.

Fong Sai-yuk (1993)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Eastern Productions; Director: Corey Yuen Kwai; Cast: Jet Li Lian-jie, Josephine Siao Fong-fong, Sibelle Hu Hui-chung, Vincent Zhao Wen-zhuo, Michelle Reis.
This spirited film casts Jet Li as another real-life Chinese folk hero, Fong Sai-yuk, in a much lighter role following his great turn as Wong Fei-hung in the Once Upon a Time in China films. It also features a stand-out performance from Josephine Siao as Fong’s mother.

Hero (2002)
Origin: China, Hong Kong; Studio: Beijing Film Studio, Elite Group Enterprises; Director: Zhang Yimou; Cast: Jet Li Lian-jie, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Dao-ming, Donnie Yen Chi-tan.
Art-house director Zhang Yimou adds exquisite detail, texture and grace to the wuxia genre with this colour-coded, all-star swordplay epic. A spellbinding film, the story charts an assassination attempt on the life of China’s first emperor, Lord Qin.

Invincible Armour (1977)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Lai Wah Film Co.; Director: Ng See-yuen; Cast: John Liu Chung-liang, Hwang Jang-lee, Phillip Ko Fei, Tino Wong Cheung, Lee Hoi-san.
A cult classic in which Ming dynasty hero John Liu finds himself on the run from the authorities after being pinned for a crime he didn’t commit. Hwang Jang-lee dons his longest beard to play an impenetrable Eagle Claw master with a top-secret weak spot. Can you guess where it might be?

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Origin: United States; Studio: Miramax Films; Director: Quentin Tarantino; Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Sonny Chiba, Vivica A. Fox, Gordon Liu Chia-hui, Chiaki Kuriyama, Daryl Hannah.
A sassy, violent revenge opus, Quentin Tarantino’s homage to cult Asian cinema is loaded with geeky fan references, from Bruce Lee’s famous yellow jumpsuit to the Ironside motif and Green Hornet theme tune. Uma Thurman gives a career-best performance as the sword-wielding ‘Bride’.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Origin: United States; Studio: Miramax Films; Director: Quentin Tarantino; Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Gordon Liu Chia-hui, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Michael Parks.
If Vol. 1 was the ‘eastern’, the second part of Tarantino’s magnificent revenge opus was most certainly the ‘western’. The concluding volume also features Gordon Liu’s iconic portrayal of the white-brow monk, Pai Mei, as the Bride’s cantankerous sifu.

King Boxer (1972)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Shaw Brothers; Director: Jeong Chang-hwa; Cast: Lo Lieh, James Nam Gung-fan, Tien Feng, Bolo Yeung, Chan Shen, Chiu Hung, Fang Mien, Tung Lam, Wong Ching-feng, Wong Ping.
This feisty Shaw Brothers kung fu film was picked up by Warner Bros. in 1973, re-titled Five Fingers of Death, and released to huge acclaim in the west, making a star out of Lo Lieh only months before his position would be usurped by Enter the Dragon star Bruce Lee.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Origin: United States; Studio: Laika; Director: Travis Knight; Cast (voices): Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Rooney Mara.
Magical and beguiling stop-motion animation from the visionary team at Laika studios. Kubo is a heartfelt homage to Japanese art, history and culture, a poignant and personal tale about loss and the art of story-telling, and a coming-of-age adventure with talking animals. There’s nothing quite like it.

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Origin: China, Hong Kong; Studio: Beijing Film Studio, Columbia Pictures, Taihe Film Investment Co. Ltd., The Star Overseas Ltd.; Director: Stephen Chow Sing-chi; Cast: Stephen Chow Sing-chi, Bruce Leung Siu-lung, Yuen Qiu, Yuen Wah, Chu Chi-ling, Danny Chan Kwok-kwan, Fung Hark-on, Tung Chi-hwa, Xing Yu.
As much a homage to the kung fu genre as it is a unique and zany triumph, this Hong Kong comedy from Stephen Chow was the first to break him internationally and is an exhilarating showcase of his talents.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Origin: United States; Studio: DreamWorks Animation; Directors: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne; Cast (voices): Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogan.
DreamWorks’ first genuine hit after Shrek introduced the cuddly, bumbling exploits of Po the Panda, voiced by Jack Black, who befriends the legendary Furious Five to become the famed Dragon Warrior. It’s a real hoot displaying an excellent attention to genre traditions.

The Matrix (1999)
Origin: United States; Studio: Warner Bros.; Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski; Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano.
Equally inspired by the works of classical philosophers as with the exploits of Asian action cinema, the Wachowski’s dystopian vision was an instant sci-fi smash and marked the US debut for Yuen Woo-ping and his stunning Hong Kong-style fight choreography.

Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Film Workshop, Golden Harvest, Paragon Films; Director: Tsui Hark; Cast: Jet Li Lian-jie, Rosamund Kwan Chi-lam, Yen Shi-kwan, Yuen Biao, Jacky Cheung Hok-yau, Kent Cheng Jui-si, Wu Ma.
Despite accusations of being too young to play the role of venerable real-life folk hero Wong Fei-hung – only to be injured on set and doubled for most of the fight scenes – Tsui Hark’s seminal wire-fu drama made a huge star of Jet Li.

Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Film Workshop, Golden Harvest, Paragon Films; Director: Tsui Hark; Cast: Jet Li Lian-jie, Rosamund Kwan Chi-lam, Benny Mok Siu-cheung, David Chiang Da-wei, Donnie Yen Chi-tan.
A sublime kung fu adventure with Jet Li reprising the role of Wong Fei-hung, facing down nationalistic zealots in turn-of-the-century China and a wayward Commander, played excellently by the equally enigmatic Donnie Yen.

Ong-Bak (2003)
Origin: Thailand; Studio: Sahamongkol Film International; Director: Prachya Pinkaew; Cast: Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pumwaree Yodkamol, Suchoa Pongvilai, Wannakit Siriput.
This explosive starring-role debut for Thai stuntman Tony Jaa showed him to be a unique cinematic force capable of both the intensity of Bruce Lee and the physicality of Jackie Chan, mixed with an acrobatic skill and martial proficiency all of his own.

Police Story (1985)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest, Golden Way, Paragon Films; Director: Jackie Chan; Cast: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk, Bill Tung Piu, Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia, Chu Yuan, Fung Hark-on, Ken Tong Chun-yip, Lam Gwok-hung, Mars.
Created as a direct riposte to his poor treatment in Hollywood, Jackie Chan returned to Hong Kong to create one of his best action films, noted for its extreme stunt-work. The final sequence is breathtaking as Chan and co. literally smash their way through a shopping mall.

Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest, Golden Way, Paragon Films; Director: Stanley Tong Kwai-lai; Cast: Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh Chu-kheng, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk, Josephine Koo Mei-wah, Ken Lo Hui-kwong, Yuen Wah.
One of Jackie Chan’s best adventures, this film re-launched the career of Michelle Yeoh who stepped out of retirement to play a top-fighting female cop. The film also confirmed Chan’s rising popularity in the west.

The Prodigal Son (1981)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest; Director: Sammo Hung Kam-bo; Cast: Yuen Biao, Lam Ching-ying, Sammo Hung Kam-bo, Frankie Chan Fan-kei, Peter Chan Lung.
Perhaps Sammo Hung’s crowning achievement, offering long-time collaborators Yuen Biao and Lam Ching-ying career defining roles as real-life Wing Chun masters Leung Jan and Leung Yee-tai.

Project A (1983)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest; Director: Jackie Chan; Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung Kam-bo, Yuen Biao, Dick Wei, Lee Hoi-san, Mars.
Fun-filled swashbuckling antics in which director and star Jackie Chan first moved away from the traditional chopsocky set-up of the past and into more stunt-driven excitement, alongside his kung fu brothers Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.

The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Origin: Indonesia; Studio: Merantau Films; Director: Gareth Evans; Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Pierre Gruno, Donny Alamsyah, Yanyan Ruhian.
A simple premise – Indonesian SWAT fighter Iko Uwais kicks his way out of a tower block full of baddies – is turned into a vital, visceral and violent masterpiece at the hands of director Gareth Evans.

The Raid 2 (2014)
Origin: Indonesia; Studio: Merantau Films; Director: Gareth Evans; Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Cecep Arif Rahman, Donny Alamsyah, Arifin Putra, Julie Estelle.
Gareth Evans’ epic sequel balances a vast Godfather-like ambition with wild set pieces including a tricky one-take prison brawl and an intricate fight in a car, featuring a cabal of Tarantino-inspired pugilists waving baseball bats and knives.

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Seasonal Films; Director: Yuen Woo-ping; Cast: Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen Siu-tien, Hwang Jang-lee, Roy Horan, Dean Shek Tin, Peter Chan Lung, Tino Wong Cheung.
Yuen Woo-ping’s directorial debut was the perfect showcase for Jackie Chan’s comedic talents. Woo-ping cast his father, Simon Yuen, as the film’s iconic beggar sifu, and Ng See-yuen’s go-to bastard Hwang Jang-lee as the main villain. The result: an instant classic and a huge hit at the box office.

13 Assassins (2010)
Origin: Japan; Studio: Recorded Picture Company, Sedic International, Toho Film Co.; Director: Takashi Miike; Cast: Gorô Inagaki, Kôji Yakusho, Masachika Ichimura, Mikijirō Hira, Takayuki Yamada, Yûsuke Iseya.
Takashi Miike’s Samurai remake is a blistering, heady mix of brooding suspense and wild action, focusing on the closing years of the Shogun era and culminating in an extended, brutal battle scene. Evil clan leader Lord Naritsugu is one of Miike’s most disturbed and memorable sadists.

A Touch of Zen (1971)
Origin: Taiwan; Studio: International Film Production; Director: King Hu Chin-chuan; Cast: Hsu Feng, Shih Chun, Roy Chiao Hung, Han Ying-chieh, Sit Hon, Pai Ying, Tien Peng.
King Hu’s epic wuxia took three years to make and would prove to be the first Taiwanese film to be internationally recognised at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Grand Prize for Superior Technique in 1975. It mixes Hitchcockian suspense with exhilarating sword battles.

The Victim (1980)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Graffons Film Co.; Director: Sammo Hung Kam-bo; Cast: Sammo Hung Kam-bo, Leung Kar-yan, Chang Yi, Wilson Tong Wai-shing, Chung Fat.
An underrated gem from Sammo Hung which initially starts with a light premise before boiling over into a full-on domestic meltdown. ‘Beardy’ Leung Kar-yan is magnificent in the lead role, bolstered by Sammo’s impeccable choreography.

Warrior King (2005)
Origin: Thailand; Studio: Baa-Ram-Ewe, Golden Network Asia Ltd., Sahamongkol Film International, TF1 Films Productions; Director: Prachya Pinkaew; Cast: Tony Jaa, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Johnny Nguyen, Lateef Crowder, Nathan Jones, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Xing Jing.
Tony Jaa’s next film after Ong-Bak upped the ante in terms of providing the performer a platform to expand on his unique repertoire of bone-crunching, Muay Thai skills. He plays an innocent country boy who travels to Australia to rescue his favourite elephant.

Wheels on Meals (1984)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest; Director: Sammo Hung Kam-bo; Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung Kam-bo, Yuen Biao, Benny Urquidez, Lola Forner, Keith Vitali, John Shum Kein, Richard Ng Yiu-hon, Wu Ma.
A superior Hong Kong action film starring the Three Dragons – childhood buddies Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung – in which the trio take their stunt-fuelled hi-jinks to Spain, where Jackie gets to fight with Benny “the Jet” Urquidez in one of the genre’s greatest punch-ups.

The Young Master (1980)
Origin: Hong Kong; Studio: Golden Harvest; Director: Jackie Chan; Cast: Jackie Chan, Wei Pei, Lily Li Li-li, Shek Kin, Yuen Biao, Lee Hoi-san, Tien Feng, Whang Ing-sik.
An endlessly entertaining kung fu comedy from Jackie Chan which displays his growing antipathy towards the more staid, traditional forms of chopsocky film-making. The climactic bout with Whang Ing-sik shows a distinctly alternative way to defeat a far superior opponent.