The Best Martial Arts Movies and TV Shows To Watch During Lockdown

0 Posted by - January 20, 2021 - Film, Martial Artist, Wisdom
Cobra Kai

This blog has dedicated a lot of time to at-home martial arts and cross-training workouts and tips over the past year. And for good reason. Martial artists are pretty good at adapting to the circumstances — it’s part of any good martial arts training and philosophy — but a global pandemic has a way of messing up even the most flexible and creative training plans. We’ve all had to learn to do the best we can to keep ourselves motivated and in the best mental and physical shape possible in challenging times. We’ve all needed all of the ideas and encouragement. And we’ve all been happy to share what we’ve learned with our fellow martial artists. 

We’ve also spent some time talking about the importance of rest and not pushing yourself past your limits when life is already challenging and exhausting. What we haven’t done, though, is talk about ways to wind down. With winter weather making outdoor recreation and relaxation uncomfortable or impossible in a number of places, and many parts of the world facing some level of lockdown again, we figured it was time to change that!

One thing that most of us are able to do right now is stream movies and television shows. So we starting looking at what martial arts programming is current available on popular streaming services to keep us entertained — and maybe even inspired — during our downtime. 

Here are the best martial arts films and TV shows streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more:

Martial Arts Movies Streaming on Netflix

Netflix has a little something for almost every martial artist. Karate is their big thing these days, thanks to the recent release of season three of the extremely binge-able Cobra Kai series. If you’re looking for even more Karate Kid, the original 1984 film, the 1994 reboot, and the 2010 remake are also streaming on Netflix. But there’s plenty for everyone else, too. For MMA fans, there’s the teen underground fight club flick Never Back Down and the prestige drama Warrior starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy. You can also catch a number of MMA stars, including Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelseon, Wanderlai Silva, and Shogun Rua in the sequel to the recent Kickboxer reboot, Kickboxer: Retaliation. For boxers, there’s the 2016 Vinny Pazienza biopic Bleed For This, and perennial favorite Rocky. For families, there are a number of offerings from the Kung Fu Panda and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchises. And traditional kung fu film enthusiasts are well served on Netflix with both modern hits like the Ip Man films and a huge selection of classics like the Shaw Brother’s legendary The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Return to the 36th Chamber.

Our pick: It’s almost impossible to live up to a film like 2000’s Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but 2016’s Netflix original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny makes an honest effort and is well worth a look. Martial arts movie giants Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh are reliably excellent in their roles, and the legendary Yuen Woo-ping’s fight choreography is a treat. (The original’s on there, too, if you want to make it a double bill.)

Martial Arts Movies Streaming on Amazon Prime

Kung fu is also well represented in Amazon’s Prime extensive martial arts film streaming collection. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is here, too. As are Five Deadly Venoms, Five Elements Ninjas, The Kid with the Golden Arm, Crippled Avengers and Clan of the White Lotus. Five Fingers of Death, the film that some film experts credit with whetting America’s appetite for kung fu and paving the way for the game-changing success of Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon, is available for streaming on Prime, too. So is Jet Li’s 2006 return to Hong Kong cinema, Fearless. If you prefer the Jean-Claude Van Damme variety of martial arts movie, Bloodsport is on there. 

Our pick:  Fist of Fury, (aka The Chinese Connection), released in 1972, was Bruce Lee’s second feature, and was instrumental in establishing the on-screen presence martial arts fans love. Among the film’s many great scenes is the iconic and often imitated dojo fight. A must see for any Bruce Lee fan, and any martial artist in general. 

Martial Arts Movies Streaming on Disney+

Disney+ has a number of family martial arts film and TV shows streaming on their service. The 2020 live action “martial arts extravaganza” version of Mulan, which we’ve been following in this blog since casting began in 2018, debuted on the service last year and is currently available for viewing. For even more martial arts girl power, there’s Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, a Disney original about a teenager girl trying to balance campaigning for homecoming queen with mastering martial arts in order to save the world. The martial arts comedy TV series Kickin’ It, about a group of underdog karate kids, promises family fun. And most of the movies in the Marvel universe include at least a little cool martial arts-influenced action. (For more of the topic of martial arts in the Marvel extended universe, check out our series of blogs on the topic.) You can even catch a glimpse of MMA legend Georges St-Pierre in Captain America: Winter Soldier. 

Our pick: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story might seem like an odd choice for this particular blog, but hear us out. Any movie that features a new martial arts style that Donnie Yen developed just for it is worth inclusion in a martial arts streaming party. Yen’s next level vision and dedication to his character and fight scenes is also a great inspiration for staying creative and adaptive in our own martial arts practices. 

Martial Arts Movies Streaming on Other Services

If you’re still looking for more martial arts movies for your lockdown entertainment, or you don’t subscribe to the above services, you still have options! Hulu doesn’t have quite the martial arts library that its competitors do, but it does have Japanese arthouse bad boy Takashi Miike’s beloved samurai film, Blade of the Immortal. Speaking of arthouse, the Criterion Collection’s streaming service is currently running a Jackie Chan retrospective. Akira Kurosawa’s classic judo vs jiujitsu drama, Sanshiro Sugata and King Hu’s wuixa genre-redefining Dragon Inn are also there. 

There are also a couple of free streaming services filled with great martial arts and martial arts-influenced content. Tubi’s impressive martial arts section includes everything from kung fu classics to American B movies to cult classics. Shaw Brothers, Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, and Bolo Yeung fans won’t be disappointed. Shout Factory Television has a number of early Jackie Chan movies like Crime Story, The Protector, and his first international breakthrough, Battle Creek Brawl. The Brucesploitation flick Goodbye Bruce Lee: His Last Game Of Death is on there, too. 

Our pick: Binge watching episodes from the multiple Super Sentai series available on Shout is a must for any Power Rangers fans who want to see where the franchise’s fascinating action sequences originally came from.