If you like Cobra Kai, stream these martial-arts picks
The latest entry in the Karate Kid franchise is built on nostalgia: 30 years after their epic rivalry first kicked off, Johnny and Daniel come face to face again, this time without the guidance of Mr Miyagi, when Johnny decides to reopen the Cobra Kai dojo. Johnny and Daniel train up a whole new generation of Karate Kids to compete in their own version of the All Valley Karate Tournament.
Once you’ve streamed all three seasons of Cobra Kai on Netflix, try these similar series and movies for some high-octane kicks.
With access to the Celestial Shaw Brothers Film Library, an archive of over 760 Chinese movies produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio dating back to 1950 through to the 1990s, Showmax now houses no fewer than 30 martial-arts movies. There are some timeless classics plus more recent blockbusters to sink your teeth into.
Got a hankering for something sci-fi with a punch? Sorted – check out something like 2018’s Alien Predator, where a Black Ops elite soldier platoon investigate a crashed UFO.
Prefer something old-school? The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, from 1977, is inspired by a real-life Shaolin monk who was a schoolteacher fleeing the massacre of his school, students and community. He visits a temple, discovers the secret to enlightenment and studies the ancient martial arts of the Shaolin monks in an attempt to get revenge.
The thing with martial arts movies is that the punches are real, choreographed to within an inch to maximise the power of movement and the power of screen magic. Don’t believe us?
Check out these movies with their ultimate fight scenes…
Game of Death: This is one of Bruce Lee’s most iconic movies and you’ll know what we’re talking about as soon as you see him in his yellow tracksuit. Forget everything that happens until the one-hour-25-minute mark – tiny Bruce (aka The Yellow-Faced Tiger) takes on the much-much-taller “Fifth Floor Guardian Mantis” (ex pro basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was a student of Bruce’s at his jeet kun do studio). Sheer genius fight sequences, arguably Bruce’s best.
The Way of The Dragon: Go straight to the one-hour-19-minute mark – Bruce takes on Chuck Norris (without the moustache) and the Colosseum ruins. It’s one of the most spectacular fight sequences, not just because the choreography was amazing, but because it was also the only time the two martial arts masters were in “combat”.
Wheels On Meals: Jackie Chan stars as Thomas, a food truck chef in Barcelona (so Asian, we know) and he is dragged into a murder mystery by his PI bestie who is trying to protect a young woman from a gang. Watch the club fight that breaks out at the 51:25 mark as Thomas and his bestie protect the lovely Sylvia from a bunch of suit-wearing henchmen who outnumber them three to one.
Read more on what’s in the Kix Collection here.
This 2000 martial arts masterpiece was an awards show favourite. It tells the story of a martial artist who teaches his craft to a young woman who steals a 400-year-old sword from him.
The Rotten Tomatoes critics’ consensus says, “The movie that catapulted Ang Lee into the ranks of upper echelon Hollywood filmmakers, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon features a deft mix of amazing martial arts battles, beautiful scenery, and tasteful drama.”
Set during San Francisco’s Tong Wars in the 1800s, this gritty series follows Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy from China who becomes mixed up in the world of organised crime.
Largely filmed in Cape Town, the 10-part series was created by Jonathan Tropper (Banshee) and directed by Justin Lin (The Fast And The Furious, Star Trek Beyond). Warrior stars easy-on-the-eye Andrew Koji (Call the Midwife, The Innocents), Olivia Cheng (Arrow, The Flash), Hoon Lee (Banshee, Bosch), Dianne Doan (Vikings, Descendants), Jason Tobin (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), Dean Jagger (Game of Thrones), Kieran Bew (Beowulf), and South Africa’s own Langley Kirkwood (Banshee, Mia and the White Lion).
Wu Assassins on Netflix
This series, about an underachieving chef in San Francisco becoming the latest in a long line of assassins fighting to keep the mystical Wu powers out of evil hands, is known for its exceptional choreography and punchy aesthetic.
RogerEbert.com praises lead actor and martial arts hero Iko Uwais’s performance, writing, “[Wu Assassins] harnesses Uwais’ energy as both a fighter and an actor in an exciting fashion, and creates a giddy opportunity for martial arts awesomeness to flourish.”
You’ll also recognise Vikings’s Katheryn Winnick and Deadpool 2’s Lewis Tan.
Headshot on Netflix
Looking for more Iko Uwais? This hidden gem on Netflix not only stars Uwais in the lead, but he was also the film’s choreographer, making sure every scene was not only as brutal but also as beautiful as possible.
Looper.com says, “To do so, Uwias gave each character their own unique fighting style, based on the actor’s own background. As a result, every action scene is a blend of different martial arts. It’s just as thrilling as it sounds.”