The ‘60s were an exploratory time for cinema and martial arts films were no different. Bringing us kung fu directing juggernauts like King Hu and Chang Cheh, this decade laid the groundwork for the stunning era of Bruce Lee cinema to follow. Here are 9 of the most notable and influential martial arts movies from that decade:
9. Dragon Inn (1967): Directed by King Hu. Set during the Ming Dynasty in China, the story follows a group of skilled warriors and spies who find themselves embroiled in a treacherous power struggle. The film showcases impressive swordplay and martial arts choreography, with its iconic fight scenes and atmospheric tension capturing the essence of wuxia cinema. “Dragon Inn” is known for its memorable characters, intricate plot twists, and visually striking cinematography.
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8. Come Drink with Me (1966): Directed by King Hu, this wuxia film is widely regarded as a classic. It showcased Cheng Pei-pei as a skilled female martial artist, challenging traditional gender roles in martial arts cinema.
7. The One-Armed Boxer (1967): Directed by Jimmy Wang Yu, this film featured Wang Yu as a one-armed martial artist seeking revenge. It popularized the “one-armed” trope and influenced future martial arts movies.
6. The Sword of Doom (1966): Although a Japanese film, it had a significant impact on the martial arts genre. Directed by Kihachi Okamoto, it offered a dark and gritty portrayal of a skilled swordsman’s descent into violence.
5. The Assassination (1969): Directed by Chang Cheh, this film showcased intricate fight choreography and introduced Ti Lung as a leading martial arts star, further popularizing the heroic bloodshed genre.
4. The Chinese Boxer (1969): Directed by Jimmy Wang Yu, this film is often credited as the first Hong Kong martial arts film to feature “bare-handed” fighting techniques. It influenced the subsequent wave of kung fu movies.
3. Golden Swallow (1968): Directed by Chang Cheh, it reunited Cheng Pei-pei and Jimmy Wang Yu from “Come Drink with Me.” The film further solidified their status as martial arts icons and featured innovative fight scenes.
2. The Flying Dagger (1969): Directed by Chang Cheh, this film starred Jimmy Wang Yu and introduced the concept of throwing weapons in martial arts action, setting the stage for future weapon-centric movies.
1. One-Armed Swordsman (1967): Directed by Chang Cheh, this film introduced a new wave of heroic bloodshed genre, revolutionizing the portrayal of martial arts heroes with complex characters and intense action sequences.
These movies played a crucial role in shaping martial arts cinema in the 1960s, leaving a lasting impact on the genre and inspiring future generations of filmmakers and martial artists.
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