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Kick some ass! 10 greatest movie & TV martial arts of all time

16 September, 2015 — by Matt Owen0

sylvester stallone and dolph lundgren punch in rocky IV

It’s usually thought best to age with dignity. You know, like when Jackie Chan played Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid remake. Yes, the greatest martial artist of our youth (after China O’Brien) reduced to playing a wrinkly Yoda analogue. However at Methods we’re a bunch of miserable old bastards, falling down drunk on the Old Kent Road after picking a fight in the snooker hall. Much more like Jackie Chan in Cannonball Run in fact.

So inspired by Jackie, we’ve decided to fight the ageing process to death! But in order to take out such a dastardly opponent, we’ll need the finest martial arts created by only the most inventive filmmakers.

The greatest movie martial arts of all time

If you made it through that convoluted opening paragraph then you might just be tough enough to check out The Greatest Movie Martial Arts of All Time… 

Rex Kwan Do (Napoleon dynamite)

Bow To Your Sensei.

You think Rex goes home to Starla every night because he’s a pussy? Hell no, he’s come up with the most useful fighting style in the world, which mainly consists of kicking people in the head when they mock your unnecessarily roomy trousers. Hey, it’s basically an excuse to punch out those weaker or more geeky than yourself, so what’s not to love?

Bending (Avatar – the last airbender)

If you’re going to practice something called bending, you’d better be pretty damn tough. Apparently each form of bending – I can’t believe I spend my time writing things like this – is based on a real martial art, but I don’t recall Tai Chi ever giving me the ability to flood the city with a giant tidal wave or control a monstrous bison. And not for lack of trying I can tell you.

Robot Jox-Fu (robot jox)

Imagine, if you can, a world where massive demilitarisation has taken place. Not an explosive device for a hundred thousand miles in any direction. Now imagine you have access to a 20 metre high robot with missiles on it. That knows Kung-Fu.

Tell me you wouldn’t be running the show! Despite attempting to make jockeys cool-by adding an ‘X’ to their name, and sporting an 18 rating on release, Robot Jox still spawned a legion of tiny 90s fanboys that saw it through two lacklustre sequels. Surely we’re due a J.J. Abrams reboot soon?

Anyway, it’s got giant robots beating each other up.

FUK YU (so i married an axe murderer)

Despite it’s odious reputation as a predecessor to Mike Myers’ predilection for terrifyingly bad Scottish accents, this mid 90s romcom does have one major plus. The ancient Scottish fighting style known as Fuk Yu. According to the DVD notes, it includes biting, head-butting your opponent and – in the event of a tie – drinking them into submission.

And if falling asleep outside in Scotland doesn’t kill you, this fighting style’s main weapon will… the deadly under-cooked haggis.

Kirk-Fu (star trek)

In a list already unnecessarily high on Fu, you’ve got to have something special to stand out, and this combination of of double-axe handles, side kicks and snap-punching women in the face at close quarters has the Fu in spades.

Combines an… unusual… official outfit (corset, toupee and a requirement that you rip your shirt off and shout “Khaaaaaaaaannn!!!” half way through the bout) with some exotic weaponry (a rock) and gives me yet another excuse to play the clip above.

Take her down Tiberius!

Gunkata (equilibrium)

Remember the trailer? Equilibrium looked great didn’t it? All high kicking Matrix-ey moments foreshadowing Bale’s Batman nicely. Unfortunately it was also a movie where Sean Pertwee was the villain.

Admittedly Pertwee does come from a line of skilled martial artists (his dad knew Venusian tai-bo or some similar crap in Doctor Who) but the DVD had the right idea: a ‘skip to fight’ function so you could avoid all the gobbledegook and get straight to a fighting style built entirely around figuring out the best possible angle to shoot someone in the face. Fuck yeah!

Baritsu (sherlock holmes)

Sherlock Holmes’ preferred method of asskicking, bought back to our screens by Guy ‘consider yourself our mate’ Ritchie. Although it might just be a misspelling of bartitsu. Apparently its a Japanese form of wrestling, which we assume means its great during the week but loses its sense of balance on a friday night. Anyway, it’s good to see a man in a deerstalker taking out 20 hoodies, and hey, it filled up the list didn’t it? Don’t judge me you filthy pigs.

Matrixsu (the matrix)

Okay, so I made the name up, but when it comes to beating people up it doesn’t get much better than a martial art where you can do pretty much anything.

Wall between you and your opponent? Punch through it! Opposition winning? Fly away!

Fulfils every adolescent boy’s power fantasies while showcasing a gobsmacking lack of imagination. If Neo can do anything, why not just make Smith’s head explode? The sequels might be shit, but they did add more giant robots into the mix. You can’t go wrong with giant robots. 


Okay, technically not a movie, but Shaq himself was in Z-list superhero flick Steel so I’m putting it in anyway. Unless you have a better source of basketball-based asskickery supplemented with the worst fight interface ever designed?

I thought not.

There’s no other way to say it: Shaq-Fu is shit, but it’s also fucking ridiculous which counts for a lot round here. Head on over to and snag a copy (Sega version natch) before rival destroys them all forever!

Roddy Piper’s They live Super Punchout! (they live)

Its boxing see, but each round takes place in an alleyway. And lasts 25 minutes. And basically boils down to two men punching each other repeatedly in the face, before finally giving up and going down the pub.

Oh, and they kill some aliens on the way. Can you think of a more manly form of pugilism?

Yes, I have left The Force out to annoy people on purpose. Wanna fight about it?

There’s plenty more stupid claptrap on the site, for instance you can find out these 28 spoilers in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelisation.

Kick some ass! 10 greatest movie & TV martial arts of all time
Kick some ass! 10 greatest movie & TV martial arts of all time
Bruce Lee may have been tough, but did he have a giant robot equipped with missiles? That's what makes a movie martial art stand out.
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