Known as both a martial art and Olympic sport, Taekwondo is one of the most popular and frequently practiced styles that has paved its way into pop culture with awe-inspiring, complex-kick combos, giving equal billing to performers and fighters alike. That being said, it’s always a blast to see a taekwondo fighter bring some kicking flair onto the big screen, so we thought we’d compile a Top 10 of Taekwondo Movie Fight Scenes. This list includes, but isn’t limited to, fight scenes where at least one fighter uses taekwondo as their primary combat style. Enjoy!
- Kiss of the Dragon (2001) – Jet Li vs. Twins
Presenting a more grounded, realistic and less wire-oriented combat as compared to Jet Li’s preceding American films “Romeo Must Die” and “The One”, “Kiss of the Dragon” boasts a finale between Jet Li and a couple of imposing-looking twins that is credited as one of the best Jet Li fight scenes of all time. In fact, one of the twins (portrayed by renowned stunt actor Cyril Raffaelli) is so proficient at kicking that he relishes disposing of his adversaries with a devastating 360-degree hook kick to the head. With the help of his bigger twin, Cyril proves to be a match for Jet with just his kicks alone…
- Who Am I? (1998) – Jackie Chan vs. Ron Smoorenburg
Portraying a CIA agent suffering from amnesia, Jackie Chan takes on a pair of henchmen working for a villain, Morgan, one of whom happens to be an expert taekwondo practitioner played by none other than Dutch kickboxing expert and veteran stunt actor Ron Smoorenburg. Making his debut in “Who Am I?”, Smoorenburg assists his colleague in creating double trouble better than most kicking villains, carrying a calm and collected sense of confidence alongside his swift, flexible kicks and making the rather difficult art of kicking look easy!
- Boyka: Undisputed 4 (2016) – Boyka vs Ozerov Brothers
Yes, another ‘twins battle’, and yes, as a taekwondo fight, it goes beyond the “Kiss of the Dragon” showdown mentioned earlier. Having to fight a series of battles to gain forgiveness and free his deceased opponent’s wife from the hands of the cruel mobster Zourab, Boyka engages in a one-vs-two special against the Ozerov brothers, with one of them being played by well-known fight choreographer and super-kicker, Tim Man. This fight carries on the Undisupted series’ trademark; brutal yet flamboyant fisticuffs with the agile and fierce-kicking duo flipping, spin-kicking even back-breaking their way around the ‘Most Complete Fighter in the World’, giving Boyka a run for his money and really encouraging viewers to double their bets, as the announcer suggested.
- Drunken Master 2 (1994) – Jackie Chan vs. Ken Lo
One of the finest martial arts films ever created, “Drunken Master 2” (The Legend of Drunken Master) stars Ken Lo as the super-kicking villain, John. In the finale against Jackie Chan as Wong Fei-Hung, Ken Lo is armed with a pair of crazy legs to present some of the best kicking around, utilizing his legs as easily as one would use his or her hands. Lo could swing his knees and demonstrate strong, agile kicks with such superior balance, control and flexibility that his legs alone are more than enough for Jackie to handle…well, until Jackie activates ‘drunken master mode’ that is!
- Best of the Best (1989) – Tommy Lee vs. Dae Han
This list wouldn’t be complete without this iconic cult classic! “Best of the Best” is probably the best-known taekwondo film among Western fans aside from Hong Kong ones. Here, Tommy Lee and Dae Han Park, who are played by real-life brothers Phillip and Simon Rhee, are pitted against each other in a good, solid, old-fashioned good-vs-evil final fight, mixing raw kicking talent with clean, intense choreography.
- When Taekwondo Strikes (1973) – Final Fight
Another ‘must include’, starring the “Father of American Taekwondo” Jhoon Rhee in his only movie alongside Sammo Hung and Angela Mao. “When Taekwondo Strikes” centers around a Korean taekwondo master who gathers a group of fighters to protect a church from Japanese martial artists. An old school film indeed, the grand finale makes use of traditional taekwondo instead of the flashy style that normally graces our screens today, with Jhoon Rhee demonstrating basic, but really crisp technique.
- King of the Kickboxers (1990) – Keith Cooke vs. Thugs
Starring as former top fighter-turned-recluse-turned-mentor ‘Prang’, Keith Cooke may have only had brief screen time for combat in this fight scene, nevertheless, it was all that was needed to show off not just Prang’s fighting prowess as a former legend, but also Cooke’s incredible kicking talent. In this scene, Cooke kicks with speed, power, control, precision, charisma and flair which is just thrilling to watch – check out our interview with the man himself!
- Dragon Tiger Gate (2006) – Nicholas Tse vs. Thugs
Based on the popular Chinese comic book series “Oriental Heroes”, “Dragon Tiger Gate” stars Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse as brothers Dragon and Tiger Wong. Although both characters are said to practice kung fu, Nicholas Tse is clearly using Taekwondo kicks in this fight scene – he specifically trained in taekwondo for 9 months while preparing for his role. Here, Nicholas kicks, speed-kicks, double-kicks and spin-kicks his way past thugs with style before kicking it out with his estranged brother.
- The City of Violence (2006) – Street Fight
Coming from Korea, the homeland of taekwondo, “The City of Violence” is certainly another film for this list. Although the choreography in this particular fight scene isn’t as clean as that in “Dragon Tiger Gate”, this scene serves as a nod to the 1979 cult gang movie “The Warriors” (the baseball uniforms in the fight can vouch for that!) yet is more intense overall. It’s an absolute riot in this crime-ridden alley of South Korea as our two leads pit their kicks against multiple gangs, whose members are definitely not fans of fair play. Any and every ‘weapon’ at hand is used, from breakdancing moves to hockey sticks, hockey pucks, baseballs, aluminum bats to even bicycles!
- The Kick (2011) – Village Fight Scene
Directed by the one and only Prachya Pinkaew, (“Ong Bak”, “Tom Yum Goong/Warrior King” etc) “The Kick” stars members of the K-Tigers (a renowned Korean taekwondo acrobatic team) and centers around a Korean taekwondo family who are being pursued by a gang over an ancient Thai artifact called the Kris. This intricate, well-thought out fight scene is one of the standout memorable moments of the film being upbeat, stylish and hard-hitting with Na Tae-joo fusing his superb kicking, tricking and K-pop dancing talents!
So, there we have it folks, 10 Top Taekwondo Movie Fight Scenes! Which one is your favourite? There are of course many others, but which taekwondo or kicking scenes do you think should be included next time around? Let us know below or join in the conversation on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!