Singapore, and the rest of the world, has been on lockdown for quite some time now due to COVID-19. And with Muay Thai gyms, boxing gyms, BJJ gyms, and martial arts schools temporarily closed, most martial artists have spent the majority of their time indoors for the past couple of months. By now, you’ve probably burned through a full library of TV shows and movies, and have found yourself with no media left to consume.
Popular streaming services such as Netflix, and others, offer a variety of entertainment options. From the latest in movies, TV shows, documentaries, and reality television, Netflix in particular has it all. Featuring a treasure trove of films spanning a wide range of genres, it’s easy to get lost in the programming. Before you know it, you’ve spent a full day on the couch, and there’s nothing left to see.
Most people are familiar with what they can find on the platform. After browsing through its content every day, you should be. But we thought we would guide you in an interesting direction. You’ve probably already seen a handful of martial arts movies before, but you may have missed a few as well.
Martial arts films are awesome because they feature the best of all worlds including non-stop action, comedy, and compelling drama. We’ve come up with a short list of martial arts movies you should definitely watch during this ‘stay at home’ circuit breaker period.
Today, Evolve Daily shares six martial arts movies to watch on Netflix during the circuit breaker lockdown.
1) Ip Man
2008’s Ip Man, the first in the series, is as good a martial arts film can get. In fact, it’s so good, it should be in every martial arts fan’s top five.
The film is loosely based on the life of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip, and his experience in 1937 when Japanese armed forces occupied his hometown of Foshan. Ip is forced into hard labor and sparring matches for entertainment. Soon enough, Ip’s incredible fighting skills are quickly noticed by a Japanese general, who then coerces Ip to teach Wing Chun to his soldiers. Ip, of course, refuses to do so and the conflict builds from there.
Ip is known famously as the martial arts teacher of the legendary Bruce Lee himself. And the film franchise has spawned a number of sequels, which further expand the story.
2) Kid Kulafu
Directed by renowned Filipino filmmaker Paul Soriano, Kid Kulafu is the story of a young Manny Pacquiao growing up in Kibawe, Bukidnon and how he discovered the sport of boxing. The film is based on Pacquiao’s struggles through poverty on the streets of Manila, and then his rapid rise through the sport’s ranks.
It offers a great peak into what it was like for Pacquiao who survived through extreme hardship, the losses he had to suffer, and how he overcame his situation.
Fans of the eight-division world champion will love Soriano’s insight on the life of a legend, how Pacquiao became a superstar, and the trials and tribulations he faced along the way. The film is in Tagalog, however, there are English subtitles for non-native Filipino speakers to enjoy.
3) Kung Fu Hustle
International superstar Stephen Chow has made a number of hit films, including the 2005 hit, Kung Fu Hustle. The actor/director is particularly known for filling his movies with special effects, staunch humor, and action-packed fight sequences.
In Kung Fu Hustle, a thief named Sing (played by Chow himself), aspires to become the leader of the dreaded Axe Gang, but in order to reach his ambition, he must plunder an apartment complex known as Pig Sty Alley. The locals surprise him with their kung fu and self-defense skills, featuring high-flying maneuvers, as a block war totally breaks out.
Kung Fu Hustle is funny and entertaining, and will leave you glued to the screen from start to finish.
Critically-acclaimed Director Antoine Fuqua delivers us the masterpiece that is Southpaw, a film that boxing fans will surely appreciate.
Southpaw tells the tale of Junior Middleweight Champion Billy “The Great” Hope, who is at the peak of his career when tragedy strikes and Hope loses his wife in an accident, which sends his young daughter to protective services. The fighter’s life spirals out of control, and Hope soon hits rock bottom. After some time, Hope then picks himself up and embarks on an epic comeback.
It’s a story of redemption and overcoming all odds. Interestingly enough, the movie was said to have drawn inspiration from the life of rapper Eminem and his struggles, but adapted to a story about a boxer.
5) First Match
The newest film on this list, First Match, was released in 2018 and was written and directed by Olivia Newman. The story is an expansion of her 2010 short film. First Match premiered at the 2018 South by Southwest festival where it won the Audience Award and the LUNA/Gamechanger Award. It was released on Netflix later that year.
The story revolves around a teenage girl from the tough streets of Brooklyn, who decided to join the all-boys wrestling team at her school to be closer to her estranged father. It’s a family drama that tugs at the heartstrings, and features some pretty solid wrestling sequences.
This film is highly-recommended for anyone who enjoys a good heartwarming storyline, and great acting.
6) Never Back Down
Made in a time when the sport of mixed martial arts was just beginning to rise in mainstream popularity, the 2008 film Never Back Down is about a former High School football star dealing with the loss of his father, who perished in a car accident.
After his family relocates to Orlando, Florida, protagonist Jake Tyler has a hard time fitting in at school. In his attempt to fit in, Jake attends a house party where he is unwillingly put up to fight the town bully. He is thoroughly beaten and humiliated, but the experience inspires him to start training in MMA to redeem himself.
It’s an enjoyable, albeit teeny-bopper take on MMA in the underground. It’s light and not overly dramatic, and just a solid hour and a half of entertainment.
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