Top 10 Kung Fu Films Of The 1970s

Top 10 Films takes a closer look at the world of Kung Fu with the founder of YouTube’s Kung Fu Kritic channel. Want to discover new Kung Fu or get an introduction to classic martial arts films from the 1970s…then read on…

10. Black Belt Jones (Clouse, 1974)

A film that blurs the lines between karate and Kung Fu. It’s just too enjoyable I can’t pass it up. Very campy and over-the-top with a plot that involves saving a martial arts Dojo in Los Angeles from evil mobsters! A campy but enjoyable take on martial arts films made in the USA.

9. The Invincible Armour (Ng See-yuen, 1977)

The Invincible Armour concerns a plant with a decent amount of characters all trying to interact and outdo the others as well as government conspiracy and false murder accusations. The real highlight is the martial arts in this film along with the incredible feats that the invincible armour technique allows! My favorite part has to be the bending of the spears on the body, you can tell that they’re rubber but it’s still pretty fun to watch!

8. Magnificent Butcher (Yuen Woo-ping, 1979)

Featuring Sammo Hung, the style of this film borrows heavily from Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master. It combines fast movements and the ability to be a little comedic while at the same time carrying weight in a semi historical fiction plot, showing our hero trying to save his sister who has been abducted.

7. Dirty Ho (Lau Kar-leung, 1976)

Hold on let me explain. A plot that centers around an heir to the emperor’s throne who is under constant attack! He then teams up with the thief (Dirty Ho) who helps him conceal his mighty martial arts strength while combining their talents to defeat the other heirs who wish to kill him! Shot beautiful with fantastic Fu!..OK..Now you can giggle at the movie title.

6. Master Of The Flying Guillotine (Wang Yu, 1976)

A special effect Kung treat! The guillotine is a gruesome weapon in the shape of a small round hat that can cleanly cut off a person’s head! Master Of The Flying Guillotine features lots of impressive wire work and for the time special effects that are top-notch when you’re considering the practicality aspect.

5. Drunken Master (Yuen Woo-ping, 1978)

Considered by many to be Jackie Chan’s breakout role! The plot is very atypical. It has a very good montage and of course a revenge plot attached to it but we get our first glimpses into the comedic Kung Fu genius that is Jackie Chan. The montage style while he’s learning his new drunken techniques is delightful. Definitely a wonderful watch!

4. Crippled Masters (Joe Law, 1979)

I have a soft spot for this film. Maybe not a hundred percent top notch for overall acting and plot especially considering the device that they use by having actual actors who are differently-abled. But the martial arts moves that these men pull off are truly fantastic to see! You end up really rooting for them and the ending is over-the-top fantastic!

3. Five Deadly Venoms (Chang Cheh, 1978)

Iconic masks representing five different styles of Kung Fu! A truly marvelous story with suspense and intrigue not to mention some epic martial arts and seamless wire work! Strong contender for one of the greatest martial arts films of the era! Five Deadly Venoms also features some gruesome scenes as well including an iron maiden and suffocation!

2. The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (Lau Kar-leung, 1978)

A historical fiction plot following a young man who aims to bring Kung Fu and martial arts to the common man. Beautiful film to watch! Top-notch acting and a great message to boot! Considered by most to be the greatest Kung Fu film ever made!

1. Enter the Dragon (Clouse, 1973)

What else could be no at #1! In my opinion the film that opened the doors of Kung Fu to the entire world with the king of Kung Fu and martial arts Bruce Lee! Absolutely required watching! Every scene with Bruce Lee in it blows you away! See it now!!

Written & Compiled by Kung Fu Kritic

Your turn? Name your fave Kung Fu films of the 1980s…

About the Author
Kung Fu Kritic is an expert on all things "Fu" and runs a popular You Tube channel dedicated to the genre. Check out the channel here.

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  1. Pete Reply

    Could have gone to town on Bruce Lee but probably best to keep it to one film. I’d have to include The Big Boss and I’d be hard pushed to leave out Fist of Fury too. Have you seen Five Fingers of Death?

    • Kung Fu Kritic Reply

      Yeah honestly most of these lost could be filled with just Bruce or Jackie 🙂 But I felt it best to try and keep the big guys to one film in the list unless I feel the film was key in it’s genera 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the list and yes I have seen five fingers 🙂 Great stuff 🙂

  2. Roger That Reply

    Great list! Some real gems here alongside the more well known stuff. Crippled Masters is a must-see for fans; Drunken Master is a must-see for newbies.

  3. Callum Reply

    Lots of films for me to see here. Thanks Kung Fu Kritic.

  4. Mark Fraser Reply

    Five Fingers of Death – it was a reasonable hit in Australia pre the Bruce Lee onslaught (which started here with Fist of Fury). I saw it when I was about nine years old at my home town drive in. I only mention this as I’m surprised anyone else remembers it.

    Not sure I’d rate it as a top tenner, but a couple of other contenders could have been Legend of the the Seven Golden Vampires (a true oddity starring Peter Cushing) and Lady Kung Fu, which I suspect was an attempt to give Angela Mao – who played the token dead woman in Enter the Dragon – superstar status.

    I thought the world had also forgotten about Black Belt Jones.

    Great list – its diversity is one of its strengths.

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