Top 10 Martial Arts Movie Knife Fights

Knife fighting is a skill of combat as old as fighting itself. One of the dirtiest and most deceptively complex fighting skills around, knife fighting techniques are found in many different ancient and contemporary martial arts, and the skill it takes to master the art of knife fighting is as demanding as any other aspect of fighting.

What’s equally challenging, in a completely different way, is crafting fast-paced, exciting knife fights within martial arts films.

As with fight scenes with swords, sticks, nunchaku, and other weapons, there are innumerable great martial arts movie knife fights, and it should come as no surprise that they often feature some of the biggest martial arts movie stars in the world wielding blades against their enemies.

That, of course, means its time to buckle up for another epic rundown list…as here, in descending order, are KFK’s Top 10 Martial Arts Movie Knife Fights!

10. Wu Jing vs. Scott Adkins – “Wolf Warrior”

Scott Adkins appeared in his share of Hong Kong movies in the infancy of his career, so it seems fitting that after breaking out, he’d make a return to the Far East, specifically in 2015’s “Wolf Warrior” opposite star and director Wu Jing.

In “Wolf Warrior”, ace Chinese soldier Leng Feng must stop a team of rogue mercenaries, which brings him to blows with Scott Adkins’ Tom Cat in a sweeping, blazing knife fight with some flashy kicks sprinkled in for good measure.

Like a Chinese Rambo, Wu Jing’s Leng Feng is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield and in a close quarters fight, while Scott Adkins can flip from hero to villain like a light switch, jumping back into villain mode with ease in “Wolf Warrior”.

Wu Jing scored back-to-back hits in 2015 between “Wolf Warrior” and “SPL 2: A Time for Consequences”, with both having two superb knife fights for martial arts fans to sink their teeth into.

9. The Temple Showdown – “Beyond Skyline”

The “Skyline” franchise is a landmark series for action and sci-fi fans alike, partially for essentially being “The Raid” meets “Independence Day” in the first ever martial arts-alien invasion combo, and culminating in one hell of a showdown in an ancient temple in “Beyond Skyline”.

Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian bring both empty-hand techniques and bladed weaponry to the towering alien “pilots” they find themselves battling, with both Iko and Frank Grillo breaking out the ridiculously cool alien weapon of combat dubbed the “Power Claw” to literally jackhammer into their opponent’s armored heads.

The temple showdown is the crowning achievement of all the insane, action-packed fun “Beyond Skyline” has to offer, and paved the way for the “Skyline” franchise to – not unlike the aliens themselves – conquer the DTV sci-fi action universe.

8. Casey vs. Two Robbers – “Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear”

Swords, shuriken, the kusarigama, and other exotic weapons might be what most people closely associate with your average ninja, but Isaac Florentine’s “Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear” brings the knife fighting skills of Ninjutsu into play in its first fight scene of Casey Bowman encountering two robbers.

Even in a comparatively minor action scene, “Shadow of a Tear” flexes its muscles of being the ultimate ninja movie with Tim Man’s stellar fight choreography and Scott Adkins zooming between Kazu Patrick Tang and Charlie Ruedpokanon with one strike after another.

The opening knife fight itself also has a lot of plot significance for “Shadow of a Tear” as the movie progresses, but even in isolation, it’s a spectacular ninja knife battle that kicks off a true Isaac Florentine DTV masterpiece.

7. Ma Kwun vs. Jack – “Sha Po Lang”

Donnie Yen famously brought contemporary MMA-style fight choreography into Hong Kong action movies with the one-two punch of “Sha Po Lang” (aka “Kill Zone”) and “Flash Point”, and one of the standout battles in the former is his alley fight with Wu Jing’s assassin Jack.

With Donnie’s Ma Kwun wielding a night stick against Jack’s knife, the alley fight of “Sha Po Lang” is a shining example of how Donnie’s approach to fight choreography has also helped push weapons-based fight scenes to a new level in modern martial arts films.

As it turns out, that influence would later be very directly felt within the “SPL” franchise itself!

6. Chi-kit vs. Ah Zai – “SPL 2: A Time for Consequences”

The long-awaited spiritual sequel to “Sha Po Lang”, “SPL 2: A Time for Consequences” (aka “Kill Zone 2”) re-case Wu Jing into the heroic role of undercover cop Chan Chi-kit, and that’s not the only thing from “Sha Po Lang” that “SPL 2” cleverly inverts.

In the movie’s pre-finale fight scene, Chi-kit goes up against the ruthless assassin Ah Zai (Zhang Chi), who brings a utility belt full of knives against Chi-kit’s nightstick.

In essence, Chi-kit vs. Ah Zai is the yin to the yang that is Ma Kwun vs. Jack in “Sha Po Lang”, a clever flip indeed on top of just being one of the best martial arts movie knife fights of all time.

5. John Wick vs. Chinese Assassins – “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”

The Baba Yaga begins “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” as a man on the run, and the movie wastes not a moment in throwing every assassin in New York City in his direction, including a group of Chinese assassins John gets cornered by early on.

With both sides having throwing knives at their disposal, John and his enemies slash, slice, and chop away in a bladed throwdown that pulls no punches.

Two of John’s opponents here are also played by none other than Roger Yuan and Tiger Chen, exemplifying the ever-growing pool of martial arts movie legends that the “John Wick” franchise regularly allows to cut loose – literally so, in this case, though it unfortunately doesn’t end up going well for either of them!

4. John Wick vs. Two Shinobi – “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”

The Baba Yaga has fought many formidable enemies throughout the “John Wick” franchise, and two of his most challenging yet surprisingly friendly come in the form of Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman as two kerambit-wielding Shinobi in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”.

Unlike the average knife fight, John Wick’s two opponents are genuine admirers of his and consider it an honor to fight the legendary Baba Yaga, to the point that they forgo a clear chance to end the fight right at the beginning to share what big fans they are of his.

The assassin fanboy gimmick aside, John Wick’s smackdown with his two Shinobi foes is one of the highlight fight scenes of “Parabellum”. Even better, with both Shinobi still alive by the end, they just might get to cross paths with John Wick again in the prospective “John Wick: Chapter 5”.

3. The Hallway Fight – “The Raid: Redemption”

Gareth Evans’ “The Raid: Redemption” wisely followed a formula of simplicity that earned it recognition as one of the best action movies ever made, building its reputation from a basic foundation of Jakarta cops raiding an apartment complex stronghold full of criminals and having to fight their way to the top.

The first fight scene of “The Raid” brings the stakes and the desperation of their situation home as Rama (Iko Uwais) must single-handedly fight off swarms of the apartment’s killers and criminals out for the cop’s heads, while protecting his badly wounded fellow cop Bowo (Tegar Satrya).

With only a knife and a nightstick by his side, Rama’s hallway fight set the tempo for not just the action of “The Raid”, but Silat-based fight choreography and hallway fight scenes alike.

When it comes to martial arts movie knife combat, “The Raid” truly led the way.

2. The Forest Battle – “Re:Born”

There are many great knife fights in action films, but the forest battle of 2016’s “Re:Born” is more like a knife war. Former special ops soldier Toshiro Kuroda aka “The Ghost” (Tak Sakaguchi) is a man on a mission to save a kidnapped child from his former compatriots, and he’s not about to let even 100 of them stand in his way.

The movie’s forest battle is “John Wick” levels of complex, elaborate, and constantly-moving fight choreography of Toshiro switching from one bladed weapon to another between swarms of camoed enemies.

Going for the nuclear option and detonating a C4 vest to take Toshiro out isn’t a viable option of victory either, as his swift method of disarming the bomb shows.

At a whopping 25 minutes in length, the forest showdown of “Re:Born” is just about as epic as a martial arts movie knife fight can get!

…and in at no.1 is…

The Kitchen Showdown – “The Raid 2”

“The Raid” movies belong on virtually any list of the Top 10 best fight scenes of any kind, and when it comes to the greatest martial arts movie knife fights, none reign higher than the final kitchen showdown between Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman in “The Raid 2”.

Iko’s determined undercover cop, Rama has to fight his way through half the criminals of Jakarta to get to the top of the underworld food chain, and finds one last obstacle in Cecep’s unnamed assassin.

While the fight starts out unarmed with the two meeting at the wrist in a nice homage to “Enter the Dragon”, their battle escalates when the assassin breaks out a pair of kerambit blades, forcing Rama to quickly adapt to the situation.

What makes the final fight of “The Raid 2” that much better is how well it works as a standalone piece of action filmmaking all on its own.

Iko and Cecep’s lightning-fast six-minute duel is clearly divided into a three act structure of Rama getting the upper hand, the assassin countering with his two blades, and the final stretch of Rama disarming one of them as the two redouble their efforts to win.

The final fight of “The Raid 2” is almost like a movie within a movie, in that respect, building upon everything that’s come before it and culminating in a final battle that tells its own story of two warriors in pitched battle determined to take the other down.

“The Raid 2” is a much more complex movie overall than “The Raid”, so it’s perhaps fitting that it should wrap up with the most elaborate fight scene of both movies that also simultaneously takes the crown of the greatest martial arts movie knife fight of all time!

So there we have it folks, KFK’s rundown of the Top 10 Martial Arts Movie Knife Fights!

Did any of your picks make the list? What are some of your favorite weapons used in martial arts movie fights? Let us know in the comments below, join in the conversation/share this on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

CUT THROUGH the CLUTTER STRAIGHT into the KINGDOM of FU; wield your sword inspired by these Top 10’s, Top 5’s, exclusive, deep-dive interviews, LOOK SHARP in KFK-wear, and subscribe for more BLADED FU on YouTube!

Brad Curran

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kung-fu Kingdom