For even the most devoted film fans, martial arts cinema can seem like a daunting world to penetrate. Sure, the starting points are well-known: Enter the Dragon, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill, a handful of Jackie Chan flicks. But going much deeper than that can be intimidating. Starting in the 1970s, the Hong Kong film industry churned out thousands of movies full of mind-bending action scenes and choreographed fight sequences. Sifting out the must-sees can be particularly difficult – and not just because many of them are hard to actually find. More than other genres, martial arts movies are not differentiated not by plotlines but the visual details and physical skills of the stars. Often, you can’t know what’s worth watching until you watch it.
No proper discussion of action movie history, though, can do without multiple mentions of Asia’s mighty fight contributions. To help navigate the kung-fu curious beyond the basics, we’ve pushed aside some of the more obvious choices to focus on the genre’s deeper cuts. Here are 25 of the most kick-ass martial-arts movies ever made.