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The 8 Greatest Martial Arts Actresses

Updated: Jan 3

With martial arts films finding a resurgence in the last year, we are looking to our all-time favorite female martial art movie stars. Some of these women are living masters and former world champions in martial arts, while others just play the part. Regardless of their background, these kick-ass women have created some of the most iconic moments in martial arts cinema.

1.Michelle Yeoh – The 2023 Oscar-winner for best actress is known for her graceful martial arts moves. Yeoh is a Malaysian actress and former Miss Malaysia has starred in numerous action-packed movies, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Supercop, and, of course, Everything Everywhere All at Once.

2.Zhang Ziyi - Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi has made a name for herself in martial arts films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Her graceful moves and intense performances have made her a fan favorite in the genre.

3.Cynthia Rothrock - Dubbed the "Queen of Martial Arts," Cynthia Rothrock is a former world champion in martial arts and has starred in over 50 action films. She is known for her impressive fighting skills and her roles in movies like China O'Brien and Lady Dragon. Check out Cynthia Rothrock hosting Black Belt Theater

4.Angela Mao - Known for her roles in classic kung fu movies like Enter the Dragon and Lady Whirlwind, Angela Mao is a martial arts legend. She has trained in various forms of martial arts, including taekwondo and karate, and has inspired a generation of female martial artists. Watch Angela Mao in Devil’s Dynamite here!

5.Jeeja Yanin - Dubbed the "Female Tony Jaa," Jeeja Yanin is a Thai actress and martial artist known for her incredible stunts and action sequences. She has starred in films like Chocolate and Raging Phoenix and is considered one of the top female martial artists in the world.

6.Cynthia Khan - Another Hong Kong actress known for her martial arts skills, Cynthia Khan has starred in films like In the Line of Duty 4 and Yes, Madam! Her fast-paced fight scenes and impressive skills have made her a fan favorite in the genre.

7.Moon Lee - One of the top action stars of the 80s and 90s, Moon Lee starred in over 80 movies and was known for her high-flying kicks and impressive fight choreography. She has been compared to Jackie Chan in terms of her stunt work and has inspired many female martial artists.

8.Pam Grier - Known for her tough, no-nonsense roles in films like Coffy and Foxy Brown, Pam Grier is a martial arts icon. Though not trained in martial arts herself, her characters were often skilled fighters who could hold their own in a fight.

That’s our list. Did your favorite make the cut? Check out some of their most legendary movies on Black Belt+

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