5. Blade (1998)
Blade has a lot to offer viewers. It’s a horror-action comic book movie hybrid that does something new with the vampire mythos. It also opens with a vampire rave, complete with a bloodbath, that helps to solidify its place as a late ’90s movie. The film is all about destroying vampires, and Blade (Wesley Snipes) does so in a variety of ways. Most of the damage comes via gun violence, but the Daywalker shows off his kung fu skills more than once. The most prominent of these exhibitions come in the finale when Blade squares off with his nemesis, Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff). Fight scenes this intricate with choreography beyond your standard kicking and punching were still relatively new in big Hollywood productions at the time, making Blade‘s use of them all the more fresh and impressive. (Chris Coffel)
4. Blade II (2002)
Ok, I can already hear the peanut gallery. How can Blade II surpass the first film when it comes to kung fu? Hopefully, most recognize how Guillermo del Toro elevated this character’s universe by injecting genuinely terrifying creatures into a genre that is too often saddled with mopey, whiney bloodsuckers. Also, del Toro delivers grand vistas of comic book fantasy and mythology in Blade II that were merely hinted at in the original. This movie is a big flex that will ultimately burst into the majesty that is the first two Hellboy adaptations.
Ah, but we’re here to talk kung fu. Blade II‘s wire coordinator is Hiro Koda, a guy who graduated from stunts to supervision on this film and would go on to lead the stunt teams of Cobra Kai and Stranger Things. The showdowns in Blade II are utterly brutal and inventive, bouncing off the sets and landing catastrophic blows full of impact that were, quite frankly, lacking in Blade. The first film was all about finesse. Blade II is all meat, baby, and it tastes goooood. (Brad Gullickson)
3. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
A kung fu Hammer horror? About Van Helsing and his horny son taking on seven decrepit Chinese vampires? With the help of an army of sibling assassins? Where do I sign? The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (say that seven times fast) is the perfect rainy Sunday watch. And I mean that as a compliment. It’s goofy as sin and unlike any Hammer or kung fu film out there, but its charm is undeniable. A team-up between the iconic British horror house and Hong Kong’s inimitable Shaw Brothers, the film is an unconventional mashup with no real equivalent (David Chiang and Peter Cushing being in the same film feels like the ultimate ’70s crossover episode). If you want to satisfy your desire for wacky kung fu brawls and gothic ruffs, you only really have one kickass choice. (Meg Shields)
2. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Everybody relax, Big Trouble in Little China is here. Big Trouble in Little China is like if John Carpenter walked into a video store blindfolded, picked six movies at random, and used the resulting hodgepodge of genres to make a movie. An East-meets-West mashup that sees Kurt Russell doing his best John Wayne while everyone else kickflips circles around him, Big Trouble in Little China’s infectious kitchen sink attitude just works. No further questions.
Carpenter claims he made a silly movie on purpose, which sounds like bullshit until you watch this bonkers San Francisco throw down that pits heroic martial artists (and their trucker side-kick) against an immortal sorcerer armed with elemental cronies and inexplicable sewer goblins. Is all the criticism about the film’s chinoiserie correct? Yes. Does it really matter? No. This is a story of a hilariously incompetent white man trying to get his truck back while the real professionals commit sins against physics by invoking the Shaw Brothers and Tsui Hark. Mr. Carpenter, the check is in the mail. (Anna Swanson)
1. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)
“I’m not locked in here with you; you’re locked in here with me!” I laughed the first time I read that line from Rorshach in Watchmen. It’s an utterly badass moment for sure, but it’s a bit of dialogue that really should belong to Ricky. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is an epic saga of a kung fu mutilator sentenced to ten years in prison for killing the mobster responsible for his girlfriend’s death. Once inside, Ricky unleashes a blitzkrieg of blood and gore upon the population, ripping through squadrons of goons in a fashion that will have you wondering, “I can’t believe these guys aren’t butter.” The pool of flesh and innards left in his wake will make you giddy unless you pass out from the sheer volume of limb-flailing action. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is one of those movies that, once seen, you can’t believe it took you this long to consume. The film inspires celebration, and you’ll spend the rest of your days attempting to place it in the hands of as many film fans as possible. (Brad Gullickson)