The Kung Fu Kritic takes a look at the best kung fu films of the 2000s including Forbidden Kingdom, Ip Man and House Of Flying Daggers.
10. Shanghai Noon (Dey, 2000)
Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson team up in the Old West. Wilson is a no good scoundrel while Chan is on a quest to find the princess of the Forbidden City and rescue her. Again I believe this is a wonderful entry-into-the-genre movie to anybody who is unsure about watching a kung fu film. There’s a lot of elements here that are very popular in western films but you also get a few interesting aspects especially having Jackie Chan in such a different environment – not in a big modern day city or ancient China but in the American Old West. I especially enjoy the fight against the Native Americans where he has to use the trees to his advantage. Overall, an enjoyable film that might just get a friend or acquaintance interested in kung fu films.
9. Fearless (Yu, 2006)
Another Jet Li film. The story covers a young man seeing his father defeated dishonourably in a fight. Feeling ashamed he decides to train in martial arts behind his father’s back. But with this great power he becomes arrogant and foolish. Realising his folly he leaves his village to go live a peaceful life and regain the balance that one needs. Eventually he returns to his home to find it over run with foreigners! Now he must defend the honour of China. A little plot heavy but still some decent action especially with the last sequence against the foreigners! As always Jet Li doesn’t disappoint.
8. Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead (Kung, 2004)
Let’s get one thing out of the way, this film has absolutely nothing to do with the Evil Dead franchise! It’s all about kung fu jumping vampires and how two priest must come together to defeat them! Gordon Liu is in this!! That, in my opinion, is more than enough of a reason to check this out and despite the really poor CGI effects the fight sequences are fun! How can you not love a jumping vampire flick!
7. Kung Pow! Enter The Fist (Oedekerk, 2002)
So much fun! The film was created by Steve Oedekerk who had the idea of taking an old kung fu film and adding new elements to it – namely himself along with a crazy plot involving aliens! There are tons of gags in this film and even though the green screen may look a bit out of date I still can’t recommend this film enough! It’s amazing that they actually spent a decent amount of money to produce this film and that it was released in theatres across the country. If you’d like to learn more I definitely recommend checking out the full review on my YouTube channel.
6. Kung Fu Hustle (Chow, 2005)
A man living on the streets and his friend are both desperate to be tough guys and show that they’ve got the right stuff. Unfortunately while getting involved with a real gang they slowly realise that they’re not as tough as they thought. They find themselves in the middle of a battle between retired kung fu masters and the evil axe gang. Stephen Chow (star and director) once again shows off his flare for using special effects while still staying practical with honest-to-goodness kung fu skills. Definitely a treat to see.
5. The Forbidden Kingdom (Rob Minkoff, 2008)
This film is an American-Chinese co-production. The plot follows a young boy in America who magically gets transported to ancient China and has to join a band of fantastic martial artists. The story is a little thin but honestly who cares as we get to see Jackie Chan and Jet Li in a movie together! Honestly that’s the key reason to see this. There’s a lot of fun moments to be had and of course having two of the best martial artists in the world together ensures it’s always going to end up being a blast to watch!
4. Kung Fu Panda (Stevenson/Osborne, 2008)
Hear me out! Now I know a lot of you are going to pass this off as just a silly kid’s movie. But in between the silly sight gags and trying to make it more kid-friendly you might have noticed that the creators of this film series actually tried really hard to respect the world of kung fu! All the animals that are used are apart of the core styles of martial arts. Most of the moves that they pull off are present in the real world; by using animation and presenting it in a kid-friendly manner the world of kung fu could reach a much larger audience and to top it off this film series is just fantastically fun to watch. I know a lot of you won’t give these films a shot and I do admit the first film doesn’t have as much to offer as it’s sequels. But if you ever get the chance I highly suggest you check it out especially for those parents out there who want to get their kids into these style of films. If you’d like to know more I actually reviewed all three of these films on my YouTube channel.
3. House Of Flying Daggers (Yimou, 2004)
Gorgeous! I’m not just talking about the leading lady, I’m also talking about how this film presents itself with a wonderful mixture of colours, fantastic sets and some extremely slick action. The plot follows two men who are on a quest to stop a rebel group. They run into a little bit of difficulty when they find the leader of this rebel group who turns out to be a beautiful woman and both gentlemen decide to switch sides. Will things end well? Give it a watch to find out.
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Lee, 2000)
An entry that probably needs little introduction seeing as it’s one of the few martial arts films to win an Oscar! The plot is very simple: a master Wudang swordsman retires and decides to hand his powerful historic weapon known as “Green Destiny” to a friend in Beijing. But the sword is stolen. A chase ensues and a surprisingly interesting story unfolds. There’s a lot of wire work going on here but with the beauty of the shots plus the quality of the actors involved there’s a reason this won an award and is a “must see”.
1. Ip Man (Yip, 2008)
The film that in my opinion launched Donnie Yen on the international stage. Don’t get me wrong, he has appeared in some fantastic films including one of my other top ten picks Iron Monkey but I truly believe this film is the one that got him noticed by not only casual kung fu movie fans but general mainstream audiences. Taking place during the Japanese Occupation of China, Yen shows the grandmasters flawless fighting skills, even when outmatched 10 to 1! If you are at all interested in the world of kung fu I highly recommend this film. He was Bruce Lee’s teacher after all!
Written & Compiled by Kung Fu Kritic
Your turn? Name your fave 2000s Kung Fu films…