Top 15 Best Fighting Movies of All Time
Everybody was Kung Fu fighting! Huh! Those kicks were fast as lightning! Ha!
Kung Fu Fighting, sung by the amazing Carl Douglas, is one of the most catchy songs out there. Every time it comes on, you can’t help but get up, sing along, and maybe do a few of your own karate moves while dancing.
The only thing more fun than singing about fighting is watching fighting. There are a large variety of different fighting films out there though. There are movies with anything and everything you might like, including Kung Fu movies, MMA movies, boxer movies, or just comedy or action movies with great fight scenes.
With a variety of these genres in mind, I have compiled a list of the 15 best fighting movies of all time. I have included some movies with more serious fighting, as well as some movies with a more comedic take on fighting. No matter what you like, you should be able to find something you enjoy in the list below.
15. Captain Marvel
If you enjoy superheroes and fighting, then you need to watch Captain Marvel. Based on Marvel comics superhero Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel is set in 1995 and tells the story of how Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel.
We also get to see Earth get caught in the middle of a galactic war being fought between two alien races.
This film is fun, funny, and full of great fight scenes. Plus, it has a great cast, including Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos/Keller, Jude Law as Yon-Rogg, Annette Bening as Dr. Wendy Lawson, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, and Lee Pace as Ronan, just to name a few.
This movie received such great attention that it has been ranked as the twenty-sixth highest-grossing film of all time.
If you prefer the DC Universe over the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then you may be more interested in Aquaman, Wonder Woman, or Justice League, all of which also have some great fight scenes. However, if you have not yet already done so, you should definitely give Captain Marvel a try.
14. Kung Pow! Enter the Fist
If you enjoy parodies, then you will enjoy Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. This parody of Hong Kong action cinema stars is also directed by Steve Oedekerk, who plays The Chosen One.
In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, we follow The Chosen One, who is in search of the man who killed his parents, and tried to kill him, when he was just a baby. He wanders from town to town, until he meets an ill, strange master, who, after seeing his mark, which proves he really is The Chosen One, allows him to train at his dojo.
Kung Pow! Enter the Fist was created using footage from the 1976 Hong Kong martial arts film Tiger & Crane Fists, aka Savage Killers, in conjunction with new footage shot by Steve Oedekerk.
This combined footage creates a new movie with an original and completely unrelated plot. With a strange cast of characters and absurd feats of strength and fighting scenes, Kung Pow!
Enter the Fist is a very comical martial arts film. It is not to be taken seriously, but rather it is very entertaining.
13. Kung Fu Hustle
Stephen Chow is a brilliant martial artist, director, and actor. He has been a director, writer, producer, and actor — sometimes all at the same time. For instance, Stephen Chow was the director, writer, producer, and leading actor in Kung Fu Hustle.
Kung Fu Hustle is a Chinese action-comedy. Yes, you will either need to watch this movie in subtitles or watch it dubbed. I know that some people do not like to do this, but trust me, it is worth it. This movie is hilarious, and the action is amazing.
Kung Fu Hustle is about two petty crooks named Sing and Bone, who are interested in joining a notorious gang called the Axe Gang. While impersonating Axemen, they go to a slum and try to extort the people who live there. Unfortunately for them, the slum’s Landlady is a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately for the Landlady and the inhabitants of this slum, Sing accidentally gets the Axe Gang involved and puts everyone at risk. Luckily though, some of the residents, who are the most unlikely heroes, know martial arts and try to protect their home. Kung Fu Hustle has amazing and original fight scenes.
Stephen Chow was also the director, producer, and lead actor in Shaolin Soccer, a movie which showed how martial arts can be used in everyone’s daily life, even in sports. Shaolin Soccer is a funny story as well, which follows a former Shaolin monk, played by Chow, who reunites his brothers to use martial arts to play soccer, in order to bring Kung Fu to everyone.
12. Star Wars
Everybody of course knows the Star Wars movies, and many see them as their favorite movies or the best movies from their childhood. But do you consider them some of the best fighting movies of all time? I do!
All of the Star Wars movies bring you great and iconic fight scenes with lightsabers and the use of the Force, spaceship fights, and great battles. While the original trilogy is generally a bit slower than the newer movies, that doesn’t mean that the fights are any less exciting.
Who doesn’t love the Ewok battle on a moon of Endor? And the fights between Luke and Vader are exciting, no matter how often you watch them.
Generally speaking, the prequel trilogy is faster than the original trilogy, which you can see from the higher-paced lightsaber fights. Think: when Obi-Wan fights Anakin on Mustafar or when Yoda battles Palpatine in the Senate in Episode III. And as a bonus, you have a great soundtrack, which really enhances the fight scenes.
11. Never Back Down
You all know those movies or shows about high schools, where either the members of the football team, the Glee club, or the dance club are the most popular kids in school. Well, in Never Back Down, the kids who practice mixed martial arts (MMA) and participate in fights are the most popular.
New kid in School Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) finds that out pretty quickly when he tries to pursue classmate Baja Miller (Amber Heard) at a party, where he gets challenged to a fight by Baja’s possessive and arrogant boyfriend and the school’s MMA champion, MYan McCartny (Cam Gigandet). After suffering a humiliating loss, he gets introduced to MMA master Jean Roqua (Djimon Housou), who agrees to teach him MMA so that he can try to both redeem himself as well as impress his crush Baja.
Never Back Down is a fun movie to watch, having of course amazing MMA fights. But it also has great training sequences with good music, which will get you pumped yourself and ready to hit the gym (and maybe even a punching bag) to train your MMA skills.
10. The Matrix
It almost seems that the Matrix movies are popping up on almost every “best (enter genre here) movies” list. They certainly are on mine. That is because they are classics, presented something completely new, and are just awesome. And the best thing about them: we will get even more Matrix with The Matrix 4, which is planned to be released in 2021.
But let’s talk about the fighting, since that’s why we’re here. The Matrix trilogy that we have so far gave us something new and exciting. Starting with us getting introduced to fighting in the Matrix, a lot of training, and ending with Neo in control of the Matrix, basically being a God inside of it.
Every fight against Agent Smith is fun to watch, exciting, and accompanied by fun music. At some point, Neo even needs to fight an endless stream of Agent Smiths.
Keanu Reeves as Neo is outstanding in every installment, but Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, and Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith don’t fall far behind. So I think it’s time for another The Matrix marathon!
9. Real Steel
Do you love fighting movies but have seen enough beat-up and bloody faces for a while? Then try Real Steel! This sci-fi fighting movie is based on the idea that human boxers are replaced by robots, which are then controlled by one or more people.
After his boxing robot is destroyed, former boxer Charlie Kenton and his estranged teenage son Max find an old, but functioning, sparring robot in the trash. While it is not the strongest or fastest robot, it is extremely durable and has the rare technology that allows it to mirror the controller’s movements.
This technology allows the robot to be trained by Charlie and thus learn different moves that even pro fighting robots don’t have, which gives them a distinct advantage and fuels their amazing victory through a robot boxing tournament.
This movie gives the typical boxing movie a fun twist by using robots instead of humans. But the human actors are still important and do a great job, especially Hugh Jackman as Charlie, Dakota Goyo as Max, and Evangeline Lilly as Charlie’s flame, Bailey Tallet.
Looking for a movie about boxing with great fights, energizing training sessions, amazing music, and a lot of ups and downs? Well look no further, you found it.
Southpaw follows fictional professional Boxer Billy “The Great” Hope, portrayed by the great Jake Gyllenhaal. He is undefeated in his professional career but always gets badly hurt each fight. After his most recent fight, he is put at risk of losing his eyesight. Despite this risk and the strong discouragement from his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams), he signs a 3-fight contract with his manager, Jordan Mains (50 Cent).
Unfortunately, shortly after this happens, his wife gets accidentally shot during a brawl with a rival boxer. This leads him to a downward spiral of alcohol abuse, which causes him to lose all of his money, his hime, and even the custody of his daughter. The movie then follows him on his journey back to getting straight, as well as one last fight to redeem himself and win his daughter back.
Southpaw has everything you could ask for: great actors, such as Jake Gyllenhaal, 50 Cent, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, and many more, an amazing soundtrack, including hits by EMINEM, 50 Cent, and Slaughterhouse, and of course fun to watch fights.
7. The Fighter
The Fighter is based on the real life of professional boxer Micky Ward and his half-brother Dicky Eklund, who, after being a professional boxer himself but becoming addicted to crack, is his trainer.
After Micky’s devastating loss at a fight organized by his mother, Micky wants to leave the world of fighting. His family is against this, though, since they all depend on him for income. During a scam, in which Dicky pretends his girlfriend is a prostitute but then steals the clients’ money instead, Dicky gets arrested and sent to jail and Micky’s hand gets broken.
This drives a deep rift between the brothers. Then, both of them try to get their lives back together, which brings them together. In the end, they are able to get Micky ready to win the welterweight title.
While still having great fights, what really makes this movie thrive is the family drama that develops throughout the movie, as well as the absolutely amazing cast of Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward, Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund, Amy Adams as Mickey’s girlfriend Charlene Fleming, and Melissa Leo as the mother of Micky and Dicky.
Another family drama, Warrior focuses on the fictional journey of brothers Tommy and Brendan Conlon, who both fight MMA but with completely different styles. The climax occurs when their paths cross in the final of an MMA tournament. Throughout the movie, both brothers also work through their history of problems with their alcoholic and previously abusive father.
Tommy, an ex-Marine, comes home from his time overseas. During his first day in a gym, he beats a professional fighter by knockout, which in turn provides him an “in” to an upcoming MMA tournament. He makes a deal with his father to train him, as long as his father promises not to try to reconcile with him.
At the same time, Brendon struggles to stay afloat financially. To pay for his daughter’s heart surgery, he enters MMA tournaments, which in the end brings him to the same tournament his brother is in.
This movie is also carried by the great acting job of Tom Hardy as Tommy, Joel Edgerton as Brendan, and Nick Nolte as their father, Paddy. Plus, the fighting is amazing, with Edgerton using a fighting style based on Jiu-Jitsu and Hardy fighting with pure strength, knocking out opponents left and right.
5. Ip Man: Kung Fu Master
If you are a fan of Kung Fu movies, then you have probably already stumbled across the Ip Man franchise. Following the life of Ip Man, a Wing Chun Grandmaster and Bruce Lee’s real-life Kung Fu teacher, the movies are packed with amazing Kung Fu fights, as well as other spectacular fights against different fighting styles, such as Kung Fu vs. Boxing and Kung Fu vs. Karate.
The Ip Man franchise is composed of seven Ip Man movies, including: Ip Man (2008), Ip Man 2 (2010), Ip Man 3 (2015), Ip Man 4 (2019), The Legend is Born: Ip Man (2010), Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013), and Ip Man: Kung Fu Master (2019), as well as an Ip Man TV show. However, not all of the movies are made in collaboration with each other.
The Ip Man movies 1 through 4 are all related to each other, with Donnie Yen playing the role of Ip Man. For many fans of the franchise, Donnie Yen is the one and only Ip Man, as he portrays the role the best.
The other three movies are all independent from the first four movies, as well as independent from each other, focusing on different chapters of Ip Man’s life. They also have different actors portraying Ip Man, including Kung Fu World Champion Dennis To and Anthony Wong.
4. Kill Bill
You won’t get better action than from Quentin Tarentino, and this is shown more than ever in his martial arts films Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2.
The Kill Bill movies, which star the beautiful and tough Uma Thurman, follow a woman seeking revenge. This woman, Beatrice “The Bride” Kiddo has sworn revenge on a group of assassins, called the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, and their leader, Bill, who tried to kill her and her unborn child.
She told Bill that she was pregnant with his child, and then he shot her in the head. Four years later, she does everything she can to find and kill these people. Uma Thurman, The Bride, is truly unstoppable.
While the action is brilliant, the cast is also amazing. The assassins are played by Lucy Liu, Michael Madesen, Daryl Hannah, and Vivica A. Fox.
3. Drunken Master
Ok you got me, I like comedies. But what could be more comical than drunk fighting? That’s not the only comedic thing in Drunken Master, but it is certainly one that is high on the list.
In Drunken Master, we get the chance to see Jackie Chan’s famous “drunken boxing”. This “drunken boxing”, also known as “drunken fist” or Zui Quan, is the general name that describes all of the styles of Chinese martial arts that “imitate the movements of a drunk person”.
This movie was so revered and beloved that it got a sequel, Drunken Master II, as well as several spin-offs. Any martial arts movie with Jackie Chan is going to be impressive, but in Drunken Master, Jackie Chan also had the great martial arts film actors Yuen Siu-tien and Hwang Jang-lee starring alongside him.
2. The Karate Kid Franchise
You can’t talk about fighting movies without talking about The Karate Kid. It is such a cult object that it is repeatedly mentioned in other movies and TV shows, such as How I Met Your Mother. The Karate Kid franchise includes five movies: The Karate Kid (1984), The Karate Kid Part II (1986), The Karate Kid Part III (1989), The Next Karate Kid (1994), and The Karate Kid (2010).
The Karate Kid (1984) follows Daniel LaRusso, who, after having to move to LA, develops a crush on Ali. This makes her ex-boyfriend Johnny unhappy. Unfortunately, Johnny is a black belt in karate and beats up Daniel. Daniel gets saved by Mr. Miyagi, who agrees to teach him karate, so that he can beat Johnny in a karate tournament, in the hopes that this will stop Johnny from beating Daniel up in the future.
With Ralph Macchio as Daniel, Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, and William Zabka as Johnny, stars and cult figures were born. The fighting in each movie is superb and definitely worth watching, if you somehow haven’t done so already.
1. Rocky Franchise
If you would have the Family Feud question: “Name a fighting movie”, I bet you that the top answer would be Rocky. It is a classic. We all either know it or at the very least know of it.
You’re thinking of Rocky Balboa running up those steps and then pumping his fist up right now, aren’t you? Rocky has led to seven sequels, with the amazing Sylvester Stallone portraying Rocky in all eight movies, writing seven of them and even directing four of them.
The movies have everything! They have amazing fights between Rocky and his various opponents and, in the later movies, between Donnie Creed and his opponents. To fight amazingly, they need to train amazingly, so of course you have many, including the aforementioned famous, training scenes.
There are lovable and memorable villains, such as the Russian Ivan Drago, who coined the line: “If he dies, he dies.” And of course, like any good fighting movie, Rocky comes with a great soundtrack.