5 Martial Arts Movies Inspired by Real-Life Events

Martial arts collectively of course include all iconic fighting styles, popularised by famous movie stars such as Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Rudimentary forms like karate, taekwondo, and kung fu date back to further than 5000 BC. Nowadays, there are numerous types of traditional combat methods practised across the globe.

Countless movies have taken vital inspiration from real-life martial art stories. Keep reading for a selection of the best!

Ip Man

Ip Man is a successful martial art film series with five different instalments. Starring Donnie Yen, the Hong Kong-produced saga follows the real-life story of Wing Chun master Ip Man, albeit with a few embellishments. The first film is set during the Sino-Japanese war in the 1930’s, inviting us on a breathtaking ride through this tumultuous period in Ip Man’s life.

After a few of his closest friends are murdered and countless battles with the Japanese, Ip Man finally escapes to the relative safety of Hong Kong. The uplifting closing montage explains that he established a Wing Chun school training famous alumni, including Bruce Lee.

Executioners from Shaolin

Shaolin is one of the most iconic martial arts, represented in countless epic films. The 1977 Shaw Brothers’ masterpiece Executioners from Shaolin is commonly referred to as one of the best examples.

This high-octane multi-generational tale of revenge and extreme violence follows the Shaolin in their fight against Pai Mei, a breakaway Shaolin monk with evil intentions.

Executioners from Shaolin is based on a true story, making it the perfect blend between fantasy and history. One of the Five Elders of the Shaolin Temple, Pai Mei is said to have betrayed their location to the Qing Dynasty, spelling the beginning of the end for the legendary fighting monastery.


The last critically acclaimed wushu martial arts epic by Ronny Yu, Fearless is a historical account of Huo Yuanjia’s life with Jet Li in the main role. It follows a period where Japan and the West were slowly grinding down the Qing Dynasty.

In response, the Chinese martial arts master began challenging foreign fighters, greatly increasing his country’s pride after successful bouts.

Fearless opens with three intense fighting scenes where Jet Li proves his credentials as one of the best martial arts actors of all time. Huo Yaunija beats a boxer, a lancer, and a fencer in succession with breathtakingly choreographed kung fu. A heartbreaking and endearing finale is what sets this film apart from other stories.

Fist of Fury

Bruce Lee’s second major role was Fist of Fury, a 1972 Hong Kong film. The main narrative centres around Chen Zhen’s desire for justice and revenge following the death of his master. A whirlwind ride follows, where we get to see exactly why the Dragon was so famous.

The film made $100 million in gross profit worldwide, marking it as one of the most successful movies of the early 1970’s. Bruce Lee’s importance in popular culture owes a lot to Fist of Fury. The freeze-frame ending where he fights several armed Japanese soldiers never gets old.

The Lost Bladesman

Set in the first few hundred years AD, The Lost Bladesman is based on a 14th-century novel called Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Directed by Alan Mok and Felix Chong, it follows the fate of Guan Yu, a Han military general closely implicated with the end of the dynasty.

The original story has 120 chapters and mentions over a thousand characters, making it one of the most complex pieces of literature ever created. The Lost Bladesman can only cover certain episodes, but thrilling scenes such as the Battle of Baima flashback more than make up for it.


The above-listed martial arts movies are inspired by real-life events. These movies could almost act as an educational form of entertainment to some viewers, seeing that they are inspired by historical events. In fact, some people are fond of such films for the fact that they contain both elements of entertainment and some degree of education combined.

On the other hand, sometimes education is seen as a form of entertainment in itself by some.

For example; video gamers looking to learn the philosophy behind certain video games from their favourite streamers, casino enthusiasts seeking to learn how to play different live uk casino games through how-to-play casino blog guides, bookworms that read to expand on their creativity and knowledge. And lastly, through TV series and movies based on true stories.

In this case, we’re talking about those that just don’t put a minute to waste, while also enjoying themselves.

However, as you probably thought by now, a movie based on particular real-life events is not the same as a movie inspired by them. So, whether you will watch the shortlisted movies or not is going to depend on your preference for fact, fiction, or a combo.

Which of the kung fu flicks above has aged best in your opinion? Which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

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