It’s a little over a month until the new Mortal Kombat movie hits theaters and HBO Max, with all the blood, fatalities, and insane fights that fans of the game franchise deserve. While it’s not here, how about warming up with some of the most violent and influential fighting martial arts movies ever made?
In this list, you will see some productions worthy of being enjoyed by any fan of the series’s games, including works that inspired the original 1992 game. Enter the arena and get ready!
Enter the Dragon
Among Ed Boon and John Tobias’ inspirations for creating Mortal Kombat was Enter the Dragon, the supreme classic of Bruce Lee’s legendary, and the film that made it big in the West.
In the plot, a secret agent is drawn to a remote island protected by a fortress. A martial arts tournament is being held, organized by a mysterious older man where the competitors often end up dead. Sound familiar?
This is another movie that inspired the creators of Mortal Kombat. In fact, the original intention was to adapt Bloodsport into a game, using real actors to make up the characters, and with Jean-Claude Van Damme in the lead role. The star declined, and so as not to throw all the effort away, the fighting franchise as we know it was born.
If you are over 25, you already know the story: military man Frank Dux (Van Damme) leaves his post to compete in the Kumite. In this mysterious and bloody tournament, the best martial artists in the world fight to become champions or die trying.
Man of Tai Chi
In this martial arts film directed by Keanu Reeves, we follow Tiger (Tiger Chen) ‘s journey, a practitioner of the noble art of Tai Chi, who competes in a tournament to honor his master and save the temple where he was trained. He gains the unscrupulous Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) ‘s attention, who introduces him to the blood and lust-filled world of illegal fighting, where the loser dies.
The film is full of sensational fight sequences and lots of blood, but the plot is just as gripping, showing the struggle of a good man to preserve the purity of his soul.
This Quentin Tarantino classic plays with various genres, flirting in particular with martial arts films. There are several elements in both films, from references to Bruce Lee to homages to great actors and past productions.
The story revolves around the assassin Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), who goes on a journey of revenge against the killers who almost killed her on her wedding day. Memorable fights, deadly techniques, and lots of blood are an essential part of the narrative.
An absolute hit among martial arts fans, Ong Bak is the film that propelled Thai actor Tony Jaa to fame, featuring some of the most visceral fight scenes ever filmed.
The plot is simple: When a sacred statue is stolen from a village, it is up to the warrior Ting (Tony Jaa) to retrieve it to honor his people. His journey takes him to the big city, where he crosses the path of a powerful criminal organization that dominates the streets. From there on, it’s all blood, broken bones, and violence.
The king of violent martial arts films today has a name: Iko Uwais, who shines when it comes to executing fight choreographies as precise as they are sensational.
In the story, a young, with no memory man named Ishmael (Iko Uwais) becomes the target of a crime syndicate for reasons he doesn’t know. To protect the nurse who saved him, he will go head-to-head with the criminals and intends to take no prisoners along the way.
Ninja Assassin is perhaps the most Mortal Kombat-like movie on this list. It has it all: gore, stylish characters, fierce fights, and ninjas, lots of ninjas.
In the plot, the ninja Raizo, played by the Korean singer Rain – who coincidentally has the same name as one of the ninjas in Mortal Kombat – becomes disillusioned with his clan and his master and turns against them. What follows is exactly what you would expect from a film of this type: blood and death.
The Night Come for Us
Another film starring Iko Uwais on this list! And he’s not alone: Joe Taslim, who plays Sub-Zero in the new Mortal Kombat, is also one of the main characters.
When one of the most dangerous killers in a criminal organization decides to give things up to his life of injustice to save a little girl, the mob sends its newest talent to kick his ass. The two invincible forces clash, with a surprising result for both.
The Raid 2: Berandal
Okay, this is the last Iko Uwais movie on this list, I promise. But trust me: The Raid 2: Berandal is one of the most important specimens of martial arts films with content and a strong dramatic charge.
In this direct sequel to the 2011 hit, cop Rama (Uwais) receives an even tougher order from his superior: infiltrate one of the most powerful mafias in the country and tear it apart from the inside. And to carry out the task, he takes part in some of the bloodiest fights in the recent history of martial arts films.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
Absurd, disgusting, gripping, hilarious: these are some adjectives we can use for The Ricky Story, a 1991 film based on the manga by Masahiko Takajo and Saruwatari Tetsuya. Its virtue is exactly that it doesn’t take itself seriously at any point, immersing the audience in the ultraviolent plot in a lighthearted and entertaining way.
When young Ricky (Fan Siu-wong) ends up in jail for a crime he did not commit. He comes into conflict with the most dangerous inmates in the place, all of whom have some kind of exceptional ability. It turns out that Ricky also has these powers, which results in the most exaggerated fights ever seen, which even involve using their own intestines to hang their opponent (!!!!). Simply unmissable!