Who else remembers movie nights as a kid? Whether you were at a sleepover, with your family, or on a night you had the house to yourself, there was nothing better than settling in with some popcorn and candy and going on a cinematic adventure. Recently, we asked our Facebook audiences what their favorite childhood martial arts movies were.
Not all of these were mainstream big-screen popular, but they were all at least martial artist popular. If you watched at least half of these, chances are you’re now a full-fledged martial artist with a few adventures to your own name!
The Karate Kid
One of everyone’s favorite all-time martial arts movies, not just for kids, is a movie that needs little introduction: The Karate Kid. I watched it for the first time about a year ago, and I have to admit, it fully deserves its spot on the list. It made me laugh; it made me cry; it made me want to practice karate on a beach until I remembered that I live in Oklahoma and all our lake beaches are disgusting.
Fun fact: the cast, most of whom had no karate experience, learned martial arts from 9th-degree tang soo do black belt and National Tang Soo Do Congress president Pat Johnson!
This was directed by Jon Turteltaub of National Treasure fame, so you know it’s gonna be good. Three pre-teen boys the ninjutsu they learned from their Japanese grandfather to defeat the boss of a crime syndicate. So,
In the Facebook poll, Surf Ninja didn’t have the most votes, numerically, but it had some of the most enthusiastic voters! Multiple people commented something along the lines of, “This movie made me want to do martial arts!” This isn’t surprising – on the surface, Surf Ninjas is good-naturedly goofy (teenage surfers are secret princes of a remote country, and must defeat evil ninjas to secure their birthright and free their people…oh, and also one of the teens can control events with his handheld video game system), but it features some authentic martial arts talent: Ernie Reyes, Jr., and Ernie Reyes, Sr., have leading roles.
All Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies from the 90s
Everyone is wild about the Turtles. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Secret of the Ooze, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III all got high scores. Suffice it to say, Michael Bay’s 2014 abomination (and subsequent aberrations) got nothing.
All Kung Fu Panda movies
The first Kung Fu Panda scored a few more votes than 2 or 3, but overall, the films of this illustrious trilogy got enough mentions that I feel justified in including all three. I mean – it’s Jack Black as a panda. What more do you need in a kids’ movie? Also I’m pretty sure this movie was responsible for introducing a generation to the animal styles of kung fu.
Warriors of Virtue
The first thing Wikipedia has to say about Warriors of Virtue is that it was a “critical and commercial failure.” Wikipedia is just being rude. The full movie is available on YouTube, so I watched it. And you know what, it’s fun. Warriors is simply a movie out of its time. It’s got that great late-80s-fantasy vibe (think Dark Crystal, The NeverEnding Story, or Willow) – the only problem is, it was made in 1997. Apparently that span of time made all the difference in society’s acceptance of anthropomorphic elemental kangaroo warriors.
I would say that Sidekicks is also every ten-year-old’s dream, but honestly, being Chuck Norris’ sidekick is probably every other martial artists’ dream. Sidekicks plays up the admiration many young martial arts felt for the legend, in a genuinely touching way that still allows the main character to be the hero of his own story.
Best of the Best
I’m going to let this stand in the “kid’s movie” category, although I’m going to say right now that there’s some language and it seems a little darker than a lot of these others. Five disparate martial artists end up on the same team for an upcoming international martial arts tournament. However, they all have their own reasons for wanting to fight, and those reasons aren’t the most conducive to teamwork. Their coach is played by James Earl Jones – so you know the team’s going to have to get their act together under the Ultimate Voice of Dad Authority.
New Karate Kid
Is it as good as the original? No. Does it have Jackie Chan? Yes.
Honorable Mentions: Double Dragon, The Medallion, American Shaolin, Underdog Kids