From Jackie Chan to Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal to Chuck Norris, fighting and action movies have always been the centre of attraction for a large part of the population. Because there is nothing better to watch than a kickboxer or martial artist beating up gangs upon gangs of baddies, all the while doling out badass and sometimes corny dialogues to keep the enemy’s spirits down.
Yes, everybody from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Michael B. Jordan has done it, and so will any action movie actor do 50 years from now. So, considering that action and martial arts are the way to go from now on for action movies, here are some of the best hand-to-hand combat movies that you can watch, either on Netflix or just sail the seas like a pirate.
Hand-to-hand combat Movies, also known as close quarters combat, is a type of combat which requires all the participants to be within close proximity of each other, not necessitating the use of weapons or even melee armaments like knives or axes. In the truest sense of the concept of hand-to-hand combat, the two parties would utilise skills like martial arts or basically anything that would require them to use their arms and legs to fight, is constituted as a hand-to-hand fight, since it involves, primarily, hands and other limbic extremities, as opposed to weapons or melee tools.
So, now you understand why we mentioned stars like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Steven Seagal first on in the paragraph; these actors are widely reputed to have preferred hand-to-hand combat for all the action scenes in their films. And so, with that being said, here are some of the best hand-to-hand combat movies of all time, neatly enlisted for your viewing pleasure.
Now, there are two approaches to going about listing the best hand-to-hand combat movies; we can either list all the Hollywood flicks that are reputed to have the best hand-to-hand combat sequences, or we can list some lesser known and altogether incognito movies that were cranked out from Korea, Japan or China, known to be a spiritual homeplace of kung-fu and various other martial arts. Considering that the latter is much more difficult to find on say,
Netflix, Amazon Prime or for the pirates among us, any torrenting site, we’ll instead list some classic flicks from the actors named beforehand.
Hand-to-Hand Combat Movies: The Ultimate List
Following is a list of the best hand-to-hand combat movies of all time. These include popular flicks by Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal and other brawlers who like to act or actors who like to brawl.
John Wick 3: Parabellum (Released in 2019)
Starting off with something new from the goody box, we have John Wick 3: Parabellum starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne.
Many would argue that Wick is practically synonymous with guns and bullets by now, but the third chapter of John Wick features the trademark hand-to-hand violence that Reeve’s assassin character is capable of doling out.
This instalment is special in the fact that Parabellum sees Wick pitted against the entire community of assassins as a bounty is placed on him, causing every assassin from every corner of the world to come shooting after him, trying to kill him.
Featuring a cast of A-listers, Wick delivers some pretty bone crunching hand-to-hand action in the movie, garnering several nominations and a place on our list.
Rumble in the Bronx (Released in 1995)
It would be borderline blasphemous to talk about hand-to-hand combat movies and not talk about Jackie Chan, the martial arts/ comedy aficionado whose fights have inspired millions to take up martial arts.
Rumble in the Bronx is arguably the high point of Chan’s filmography, and not just because of his charismatic on-screen presence. The fight sequences are trademark Chan’s, but the way they’ve been choreographed, coupled with the fact that all stunts are always done by Chan himself really knock it out of the action ballpark.
Set in New York, we see Chan’s character fight out entire gangs of bikers and thugs in tight spaces like pool clubs and bars, all the while maintaining that goofy attitude towards the opponents.
One of the best hand-to-hand combat movies, and definitely one of Chan’s best offerings out of his vast catalogue.
The Transporter (Released in 2002)
Straight from Europe with an insanely European feeling and setting, we have the first film in the Transporter series, with Jason Statham clocking it in as the army specialist and elite driver Frank Martin, who now works as a specialist getaway driver with a stringent set of rules.
While the film mainly focusses on the cars, Frank’s driving and his ability to stay calm under pressure, we are also treated to some pretty cool fights, including a brutal beatdown that Frank doles out to some mercenaries who try to corner him in his friend’s garage.
There he shows us the right way to fight in the garage, using the motor oil and hydraulic lifts and wrenches to beat down a mob of thugs ready to beat him up. Although Statham has garnered an unfortunate reputation as being a bland actor.
These fight scenes are really fresh and allowed for them to stretch the Transporter series into a trilogy.
Gladiator (Released in 2000)
Regarded as director Ridley Scott’s finest directorial efforts, Gladiator, starring Russel Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix is an epic historical movie which depicts the tragic life of the legatus Maximus as he is forced to accept the consequences for not accepting the leadership of Commodus (Phoenix).
As you might have guessed, with the setting as ancient Rome, things can get pretty gruesome pretty quick, but the film is not short of fight scenes that make you want to go pick up a wiper and start throwing it around like a spear.
Especially the fight between Maximus and Tigris, which is considered as the defining fight of the movie, and is the best choreographed and directed out of all the films based on ancient Rome. The fight is a must-see for fans of the action genre.
Enter the Dragon (Released in 1973)
The quintessential kung fu movie, Enter the Dragon still remains one of the most successful action movies of all time, nearly 50 years after its release. Going on to earn a record $350 million on a tight budget of somewhere around $850,000,
Enter the Dragon is a movie as famous as its protagonist, Bruce Lee, and as you might’ve come to expect from a martial artist of is fame, there is a lot of fighting in Enter the Dragon.
The whole premise of the film rests on a martial arts tournament that is held, where artists from across the world compete and contest for bragging rights and glory of beating everyone ese up.
Lee is, as usual, at the top of his game, beating up entire gangs of guards and ruffians, not to mention his competitors, who are hell-bent on winning the tournament. A memorable movie with lots of good fights.
Rocky (Released in 1976)
We can’t talk about close quarters fighting and forget Rocky, who taught us the importance of punching.
After Apollo Creed, a fictional heavyweight boxing champion selects the unknown Rocky Balboa to fight in an upcoming match, Rocky trains his heart out but loses confidence at the 11th hour, and instead of thinking about winning, mentally prepares himself for just completing all the 15 rounds of the fight.
The fight between Creed and Balboa that follows is the stuff of legend; blow after blow and punch after punch of endurance and human willpower are on display that night, and the fight itself inspires more than any other thing.
While the fights are very good and well-choreographed, it’s the inspirational element of the film that made it such a hit and classic despite nearly 50 years passing after its release.
The Undisputed Series
The Undisputed series has become a franchise, including several movies, and spawning a sort of offshoot through its character Boyka, played by Scott Adkins.
All of the movies focus on boxing, martial arts and mixed-martial arts, and stand apart from the rest of the crowd because the Undisputed movies do not focus on stories or budding relationships outside of the ring; instead,
All it does is portray just a slew of well-executed and properly choreographed fights, that would inspire anyone to take up kickboxing.
A good hand-to-hand combat series of films.
Fight Club (Released in 1999)
The final entry on our list of best hand-to-hand combat movies is the 1999 cult-classic Fight Club starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
A psychological action film, Fight Club follows Norton’s character as the Narrator, who creates the alter ego of Tyler Durden, a soap-making rebellious character, who, along with the Narrator, starts a club for the young men of their generation, named the Fight Club.
As you might’ve guessed, a club with such a name is only going to have a lot of gratuitous violence, and that’s what the movie is.
Fight after fight of society-rebuking men punching and fighting each other without bias or harbouring ill-feelings. A cult-classic, this concludes our list of best hand-to-hand combat movies.