Fists of Fury: Top 10 Greatest Film Star Martial Artists of All Time.

Kendall Rivers
6 min readApr 29, 2023
Martial Arts Icon Bruce Lee.

The art of martial arts is not for everybody. It takes true legends to master it as well as make it look incredible on screen. We all know some of the greatest martial art stars of all time and today I’m just gonna list ten of my own personal favorites and most likely ten of yours.

10. Kelly Hu.

Sexy, fast and deadly, Kelly Hu could kick butt while still charming the pants off of you. From X-Men 2 to Martial Law to Arrow, Ms. Hu always brought the goods with fury and fierceness with an intensity that is hard to beat.

9. Steven Seagal.

Bonafide 80s’\90s’ action star Steven Seagal also happened to be pretty skilled when it came to martial arts. His fists of fury brought the pain to anyone he was up against in film. His enormous size as well as his speed made him a lethal force to be reckoned with.

8. Jean Claude Van Damme.

He may be shorter than a lot of the big time action stars (5'10) but he’s as deadly as any other master of the martial arts. The star of many, many action\martial art films, Van Damme is authentic and graceful as a well trained ballet dancer with his abilities.

7. Wesley Snipes.

Mr. Snipes has been in many films that displayed his martial arts prowess with Blade and Passenger 57 being my favorites of the lot. He’s smooth, cunning and straight up badass with it, and we’re all here for it. On screen Wesley just can’t be beat and takes down any opponent with ease and with swiftness.

6. Chuck Norris.

“In the eyes of a ranger. The unsuspecting stranger. Had better know the truth from wrong and right.” This man’s such a legend that there is literally a series of books full of classic jokes about him, the most prolific being The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book: 101 of Chuck’s Favorite Facts and Stories. We all know of his classic Roundhouse kick and his iconic “singing” of the theme song for his beloved hit tv show, but did you also know that he actually went one on one with Bruce Lee and lived to tell about it? Chuck Norris is so badass that he literally jumped out of my screen and gave me a roundhouse kick for forgetting to mention his Bruce Lee fight.

5. Sammo Hung.

Sammo Hung has always been a big man, but always light on his feet when he’s kicking butt. There’s an intensity and power to Hung when he throws down that can’t be beat. In the late nineties he got his own tv show with Arsenio Hall and Kelly Hu called “Martial Law” which did a few classic crossovers with Chuck Norris’ Walker, Texas Ranger. Seeing Sammo Hung and Chuck Norris kick serious butt together was every fan’s wet dream.

4. Donnie Yen.

Star of the amazing Ip Man series, Mr. Yen has the speed, agility and mad skills to be on this list. His moves are pretty tight, and he feels pretty authentic as a master of the martial arts. The Ip Man movie series are all so good and it’s thanks to what Donnie Yen brings to the table in each one.

3. Jet Li.

Jet Li has been a master in the game for a while. From Romeo Must Die (2000) to Rush Hour 4 (1998) and The Expendables franchise, Jet Li has wowed us with his cat like reflexes and his almost supernatural abilities in combat. Lethal Weapon 4 was where I first saw this magical being throw down and it was the first time in the Lethal Weapon franchise that I was truly terrified for the lives of our heroes Riggs and Murtaugh. This guy is one bad dude and I would run for the hills if I ever had the misfortune of pissing him off.

2. Jackie Chan.

Let’s be honest, when it comes to the greatest and most beloved martial artists in film there are only two names that could ever be at the top of the lists and one of those is Jackie ‘Freakin’ Chan. As creative as fighter as he is skilled and epic, Chan has been top dog since the the 1980s. From his classic karate\action films in China to the Rush Hour franchise there hasn’t been anyone since that has accomplished the super stardom as well as the iconic fighting prowess and creative techinique that he has.

  1. Bruce Lee.

To anyone that knows and idolizes “The Great One” Bruce Lee, this comes as no surprise. The man is prolific and the true master of the craft. Many stars aimed to be him, others aimed to beat him, but alas there will never be another Bruce Lee because there could only be one. (Cool points go to anyone who gets that reference) He started off on hit sixties comic book series The Green Hornet and shot to superstardom with the 1973 classic Enter The Dragon before his untimely and unfortunate death that same year. Lee was God like with his abilities and was a real life superhero to many who idolized him.

Honorable Mention:

Jim Kelly.

Before Wesley Snipes there was Jim Kelly as one of the first and most well known black martial artists in film. Kelly was so good and so well trained that he could go toe to toe with the likes of Bruce Lee and John Saxon. Being the star of many classic Black Exploitation films such as Three The Hard Way, Blackbelt Jones etc. Kelly is essentially one of if not the first real black movie star.

I’d like to dedicate this one to my good friend and co worker Jim from Providence Baptist Church for giving me the idea for this piece because I won’t be giving him any money. Till next time, folks!

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Kendall Rivers

Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters. https://www.facebook.com/kendall.rivers.3