You’ve seen our picks for the Best Martial Arts Movie Fight Scenes of 2015, but what about the films overall? Well you’ve come to right place, as we’re readily armed with just that!
These aren’t in any particular order, and as with the previous list, some of these we’ve seen and perhaps you may not have yet, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for them when they arrive. Additionally, with YouTube becoming a popular platform for action filmmakers to get their work out to the masses, this list will also include a few amazing short films as honorable mentions. So, without further ado, here are KFK’s choices for the Best Martial Arts Movies of 2015!
Honorable mentions: Short films
Z-Team Films dropped their first feature film, “Die Fighting”, last fall and never guys to rest on their laurels, they unleashed “Drained World” via YouTube this past July. The short serves as a pilot for a series that the Z-Team has in the works, and anyone who loved “Die Fighting” will most definitely want to check this one out!
Like “Drained World”, this also serves as the foundation for a larger project that the good folks at Martial Club have in the works, intended as a throwback to old school kung fu flicks. In just 8 minutes, Andy Le, Ken Quitigua, and director Bao Tran deliver one of the best fight sequences of the year, and set the bar sky high for what “The Challenger” will look like fully realized.
Ip Man 3 fan film
Still waiting to see “Ip Man 3”? Well, while the wait continues, the Martial Club boys went ahead and threw a fan film on their YouTube channel over the holidays that is just as awesome as “The Challenger”, and it’s an ideal bit snack-fu to nibble on while awaiting Donnie Yen’s exciting third outing as Ip Man.
Now for our Top 10!
10. Rope-A-Dope 2
The Stunt People strike again with the second chapter of The Dope’s 100% dialogue-free adventures in a time loop. Eric Jacobus and Dennis Ruel of “Unlucky Stars” pull out all the stops in a blindingly fast final fight, proving once again that YouTube is the place to be to unleash films like this out to the masses in the blink of an eye. In our interview with Eric, he did mention that Dennis ripped his hamstring while filming the finale, but it clearly wasn’t in vain.
9. Kung Fury
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” has Thor, “Jurassic World” has dinosaurs, and “Terminator: Genisys” has time-travel, but “Kung Fury” is the only 2015 movie to have all of those plus a boatload of martial arts! This is another short that will serve as the basis for a larger project, and it absolutely lit the internet on fire when it landed back in May. What “Black Dynamite” did for blaxploitation, “Kung Fury” does for 80’s cop flicks – and if we’re lucky, maybe a crossover between them will be on the cards.
8. Skin Trade
Tony Jaa returns to center stage alongside Dolph Lundgren and Michael Jai White in “Skin Trade”. Co-written by Dolph, the film uses its platform to raise awareness of the real-world problem of human-trafficking while delivering plenty of thrilling martial arts action with Tony squaring off with both Dolph and Mike in the same film!
The “Rocky” series could’ve gone out on a high note, but along comes “Creed” to deliver a knockout punch to any unthinking person who thought it was time to throw in the towel. Michael B. Jordan assumes the role of Apollo Creed’s son, Donnie, who comes under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, and both he and Sylvester Stallone give the performance of a lifetime. Even better – you’ll be hard pressed to find boxing fight scenes better than these!
2011’s “Warrior”, the modern martial arts fable of estranged brothers facing each other in the MMA arena, gets a Bollywood revamp in “Brothers”. Akshay Kumar, aka “India’s Jean-Claude Van Damme”, and Sidharth Malhotra are outstanding as the two rival siblings, and they’re joined in the cage by a host of phenomenal martial artists including Chan Griffin, Daniel Bernhardt, and Dutch superkicker Ron Smoorenburg in an MMA tournament that’s every bit as moving as the original and twice as action-packed!
5. One Million K(l)icks
Have you ever wondered if a human being could move like a “Street Fighter” character? Mike Moeller certainly hasn’t, given that he spends approximately 90% of “One Million K(l)icks” doing exactly that! This is another one that you may not have seen yet but rest assured, when “One Million K(l)icks” is officially released, it is going to put Germany on the martial arts movie map!
4. Unlucky Stars
The golden age of Hong Kong action flicks gets a terrific send-up in “Unlucky Stars”. Dennis Ruel, Ken Quitigua, and Vlad Rimburg form the kind of triumvirate that Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao assembled in their early days: it’s equal parts comedy and wince-provoking action from the moment it gets started. Definitely one to check out when it officially comes out next month!
Marko Zaror’s best and most action-packed film to date arrives in the form of “Redeemer”, which reunites him with director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza. A dark, brutal yet atmospheric vigilante thriller, Marko plays a man with a blood-soaked past turned into a righteous crusader against his former allies in the criminal underworld. Just about every action scene tops the last, and if Ip Man could see the barrage of chain punches our hero breaks out on one unlucky foe, he’d surely give his nod of approval!
2. SPL 2: A Time for Consequences
Wu Jing and Tony Jaa unite to deliver both Hong Kong’s and Thailand’s answer to “The Raid” in one of the most intense and bloodiest martial arts fight fests either territory has put out in some time. Max Zhang handles the duties of the relentless, poker-faced villain with class presenting our two heroes a nearly insurmountable foe, leading to an edge-of-your-seat finale that pulls no punches and takes no prisoners! “SPL 2” is in the popcorn movie business, and business is booming!
And last but not least…
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues its winning streak with Season One of “Daredevil”, an outstanding hybrid of legal thriller and ninja flick. Nowhere else in the MCU has martial arts action been done as well as in “Daredevil”, with Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio portraying among its strongest heroes and most volatile villains. Season two hits this spring, and if season one is any indication, it’s going to be simply Marvelous (pun intended!).
So there you have it, a rundown of our fave picks of the Top 10 Best Martial Arts Movies of 2015 with a few good solid honorable mentions to whet your appetite! Can any of the titles on the horizon for 2016 rise to the occasion and surpass these? We’ll see in our list of the Most Anticipated Martial Arts Movies of 2016!