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The 8 Greatest Martial Arts Actors

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Who are the greatest male martial arts movie stars? With martial arts films finding critical success in the last year, we are looking to our all-time favorite male martial art movie stars. Some of these men are living masters and former world champions in martial arts, while others just play the part. Regardless of their background, these kick-ass icons have created some of the most legendary moments in martial arts cinema.

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1. Bruce Lee Bruce Lee is undoubtedly the most iconic male martial arts actor of all time. He brought a new level of intensity and authenticity to on-screen fighting that had never been seen before. Enter the Dragon, The Way of the Dragon, Fist of Fury, need we say more?!

2. Jackie Chan Jackie Chan is a legend in his own right, known for his incredible acrobatic skills and use of improvised weapons. He has starred in countless martial arts films over the years, becoming a household name in the process. Getting started in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon he went on to star in Young Master, Rumble in the Bronx, the Rush Hour franchise and how could we forget, Kung Fu Panda!

3. Jet Li Jet Li is a Chinese martial artist and actor who has starred in numerous martial arts films. He is known for his incredible speed and agility, as well as his impressive range of fighting styles. Jet Li has left his mark in blockbusters like Once Upon a Time in China, The One, The Expendables, Romeo Must Die, and The Forbidden Kingdom.

4. Donnie Yen Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong actor and martial artist who has appeared in many popular martial arts films. He is known for his lightning-fast kicks and his ability to blend different fighting styles seamlessly. Yen is known for movies like Raging Fire, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, IP Man franchise, Mulan, and Iron Monkey.

5. Tony Jaa Tony Jaa is a Thai martial artist and actor who is known for his incredible athleticism and acrobatic skills. He is best known for his role in the 2003 movie Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, which showcased his extraordinary athletic ability and combat skills. Jaa started his martial arts training at a young age, studying Muay Thai, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo. He rose to prominence as a stuntman in Thai cinema before transitioning to leading roles in action movies. In addition to Ong-Bak, Jaa has starred in several other martial arts movies, including Tom-Yum-Goong, The Protector, and Furious 7. His dynamic fight scenes and acrobatic stunts have earned him a loyal following among martial arts movie fans.

6. Scott Adkins Scott Adkins is a British actor and martial artist who has appeared in many martial arts films over the years. He is known for his impressive physicality and his ability to perform his own stunts. While not a household name, his skill and recent credits alone rank him among the best living martial artists in cinema. He is trained in Taekwondo, Judo, Karate, Ninjitsu, Capoeira, Krav Maga, Wushu, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Jeet Kune Do, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Acrobatic Gymnastics. He can be seen in Undisputed 3: Redemption, IP Man 4: The Finale, and Avengement.

7. Wesley Snipes Snipes began his martial arts training at a young age, studying Shotokan Karate and Hapkido. He later went on to train in several other martial arts disciplines, including Capoeira, Kali, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. One of Snipes' most famous roles was as the vampire hunter Blade in the Blade trilogy. In these films, Snipes was able to combine his martial arts skills with impressive swordplay to create an unforgettable action hero. He also starred in the martial arts movie Undisputed, where he played a boxer who finds himself in prison and must use his skills to survive. Snipes' proficiency in martial arts has not only made him a sought-after actor in action movies, but also a respected martial artist in his own right.

8. Michael Jai White Michael Jai White is an American actor and martial artist who has appeared in numerous martial arts films over the years. He is known for his impressive physicality and his ability to perform a wide range of martial arts styles. Fan favorite films of his include, Blood and Bone, Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, Falcon Rising, Universal Soldier: The Return, and the Never Back Down franchise.

These actors have all left their mark on the world of martial arts cinema, and their performances continue to inspire and entertain audiences around the globe.

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