Being home to martial arts, Asia has time and again come up with some of the most insane martial arts bases action movies of all time. Be it single combat or war movies, the action in Asian action movies is extremely well choreographed and shot. So much so, they can make one good guy taking on a dozen bad ones and coming out unhurt look real.
Action movies have always been loved by all. And whenever we talk about action movies, we can never rule Asia out, can we? There’s something about Asian action films which sets them apart from the rest. We compiled a list of the best Asian action movies that you can enjoy when you are craving that adrenaline rush. These movies are some of the best Asian action movies of all time. Without further ado, let’s check out these 25 top action Asian movies.
|Sr No||Movie Name||Year It Released||IMDb Ratings|
|2.||The Raid: Redemption||2011||7.6|
|3.||The Raid 2||2014||7.9|
|4.||Train To Busan||2016||7.6|
|6.||A Bittersweet Life||2005||7.5|
|8.||The Man From Nowhere||2010||7.7|
|10.||Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood Of War||2004||8|
|16.||Yaksha: Ruthless Operations||2022||6.2|
|17.||The Yinyang Master||2021||6.4|
|19.||I Saw The Devil||2010||7.8|
|20.||Tom yum goong||2005||7|
1. IP Man (2008)
This is a biographical film with obvious creative liberties. The story is based in 1937 during the Japanese invasion of China where a rich martial artist is forced to do menial work to support his family. The fun kicks in when he reluctantly agrees to train a bunch of people in the art of Wing Chun for the purpose of self-defence.
Directed by Wilson Yip, the movie stars Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, and Louis Fan in lead roles. It has been rated 8 on IMDb. You can stream it on Amazon Prime Video and MX Player.
2. The Raid: Redemption (2011)
A S.W.A.T. team enters a building in the slums of Jakarta to take down a ruthless drug lord who runs the city and protects other criminals in it. At first, it seems easy as the team takes down criminal tenants with ease.
The problem, however, begins when the drug lord finds out about the team and calls in heavy reinforcements and starts slaughtering the team.
The film has some of the best and most realistic hand-to-hand combat scenes in cinema. Watch out for the fight sequence between Rama, Andi and The Mad Dog. Directed by Gareth Evans, this Indonesian action thriller film stars Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhain, and Joe Taslim. The movie is rated 7.6 on IMDb.
3. The Raid 2 (2014)
Sequels are generally bad and do not normally do justice to their prequels. Especially in the case of action films, where they seem a bit repetitive. But Raid 2 is an exception to that tradition.
Rama goes undercover as a ruthless criminal Yuda, in order to take down mob bosses and expose the rampant corruption in the city.
It holds its own when it comes to the use of the Indonesian fighting style of Pencak Silat and some would argue that it’s better than the first film. Directed by Gareth Evans, the movie is rated 7.9 on IMDb.
4. Train To Busan (2016)
Who doesn’t love a good zombie movie? Now imagine the same fun when hundreds of people are trapped inside a moving train and turn into zombies one at a time as the feeding frenzy keeps on growing.
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, this South Korean horror film stars Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, and Ma Dong-seok in lead roles. You can watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video. It has been rated 7.6 on IMDb.
5. Oldboy (2003)
The story follows the life of Oh Dae-su, who has been imprisoned in a cell in a place that looks like a hotel for 15 years without any knowledge of who his captors are or what their motive might have been for keeping him in chains.
The action sequences in this film have now acquired legendary status. Directed by Park Chan-wook, this South Korean neo-noir action thriller film stars Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, and Kang Hye-jung in lead roles. The movie is rated 8.4 on IMDb and you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
Pro tip: Watch out for a single-shot fight sequence through a corridor.
6. A Bittersweet Life (2005)
Kim Sun-woo is a right-hand man for a cold and calculated mob boss. Kim basically does everything he is told and is loyal to an extent. So when his boss asks him to spy on his girlfriend as he is suspicious of her cheating on him, Kim does as he is told.
But while doing so, he finds himself drawn towards his charge and tries to cover up the affair. He obviously fails and things go downhill for him after that. The movie has been rated 7.5 on IMDb. It is directed by Kim Jee-woon and it stars Lee Byung-hun, Shin Min-a, and Hwang Jung-min in lead roles.
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7. Silmido (2003)
The film is partially based on a true story about a failed attempt to assassinate North Korean President Kim II-Sung.
Following the botched attempt to kill the South Korean President by North Korea, the Republic of Korean Armed Forces recruits 31 social outcasts on death row and life sentences and trains them in armed battle.
Things go south when the outcasts realise that the government has no intentions of releasing them as promised and decide to go rogue to save themselves. The movie is rated 7 on IMDb.
8. The Man From Nowhere (2010)
Cha Tae-sik, a pawnshop employee has only one friend, So-mi, a little girl with a heroin addict for a mother. When the mother steals drugs from an infamous mob, they come looking for her and kidnap both her and So-mi.
Cha-Tae-sik now must deal with his mysterious past as he goes on a mission to rescue them from a city of gangsters. Directed by Lee Jeong-beom, the movie has been rated 7.7 on IMDb. It stars Won Bin, Kim Sae-ron, and Kim Sung-oh in lead roles.
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9. Battle Royale (2000)
Adapted from the 1999 novel of the same name by Koushun Takami, Battle Royale is based in a dystopian Japan, where the government forces a group of Junior high schoolers to fight each other to death.
The film is also said to be the idea behind a series of video games. You might also say that PUBG is a manifestation of the novel in a slightly more civilised fashion. Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarō Yamamoto, and Takeshi Kitano, the movie is rated 7.6 on IMDb.
10. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood Of War (2004)
During the North Korean invasion of South Korea, two brothers are forcefully drafted into the military. The older brother, however, makes a deal stating that if he earned the highest medal in the South Korean military, his brother would be allowed to return home.
And from there begins a series of risky suicide missions that make the brothers cross paths on their journey! The movie has been rated 8 on IMDb. It is directed by Kang Je-gyu.
11. Hero (2002)
Starring Jet Li as the nameless protagonist, the film is based on the story of Jing Ke’s assassination attempt on the King of Qin in 227 BC. Revealing any more details would be a major spoiler, so I won’t jump into any of that. Give it a go. This is not just a mindless action flick. It’s a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Directed by Yi-Mou Zhang, this film stars Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, Donnie Yen and Chen Daoming in lead roles. The movie has been rated 7.9 on IMDb.
12. Ong Bak (2003)
When an ancient Buddha statue’s head, sacred to a village, is stolen, Ting, a Muay Thai artist, volunteers to bring it back. For this, he must defeat crime lord Komtuan’s men, in order to retrieve it. The plot of the film is simple but Tony Jaa steals the show with his martial arts skills. Watch the films for some of the most brutal yet stylish fight sequences in the history of cinema.
The movie has since had a few sequels but easily remains the best of the cult. It, in fact, has gained cult status amongst action movie fans. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the movie has been rated 7.1 on IMDb.
13. Carter (2022)
This South Korean film is directed by Jung Byung-gil. The film stars Joo Won, Lee Sung-jae, Jeong So-ri, and Kim Bo-min in the lead roles. The plot of the film follows the life of a man who wakes up missing his memories. The movie is set against the backdrop of a pandemic which makes the infected patients violent and like zombies. You can watch the movie for its lethal action sequences on Netflix in Korean and English. It has a 5.1 rating on IMDb.
14. Headshot (2016)
This Indonesian film stars Iko Uwais, Very Tri Yulisman, David Hendrawan, and Sunny Pang in lead roles. Directed by the famed Mo Brothers, the movie follows the life of an injured man who has been washed ashore. The man has amnesia and he can’t remember his name or how he was injured. It is only when his past resurfaces that we get to see gang wars and prison shootouts. You can watch the film on Netflix. It has been rated 6.3 on IMDb.
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15. Gundala (2019)
This Indonesian neo-noir superhero film is directed by Joko Anwar. The movie stars Abimana Aryasatya, Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Ario Bayu, Cecep Arif Rahman, Rio Dewanto, and Muzakki Ramdhan in prominent roles. The plot follows the life of Gundala who has to choose if he wants to continue looking after himself or do something about the injustice around him. The movie is rated 6.1 on IMDb and you can watch it on Amazon Prime Video.
16. Yaksha: Ruthless Operations (2022)
The movie follows the life of a prosecutor who finds himself in a notorious web where he is surrounded by a black ops team and its infamous leader. This South Korean spy action film is big on sophisticated action. Directed by Na Hyeon, the film stars Sol Kyung-gu and Park Hae-soo in lead roles. You can watch the movie on Netflix in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. The film is rated 6.2 on IMDb.
17. The Yinyang Master (2021)
What’s interesting about this film is that the action takes place in a fantasy setting. The plot follows a feud that erupts between realms when a demonic threat looms large. This Chinese fantasy film is directed by Li Weiran. The movie stars Chen Kun and Zhou Xun in lead roles. It is rated 6.4 on IMDb and you can stream it on Netflix.
18. Space Sweepers (2021)
Only Asian filmmakers can give you an action film that takes place in space. This Korean movie is exactly that. The movie follows when a space crew finds a humanoid robot in a crashed space shuttle. The rivals want the robot but they decided to ask for ransom in exchange. What follows next are some robotic action sequences. Directed by Jo Sung-hee, the movie stars Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu, and Yoo Hae-jin in lead roles. The movie has been rated 6.5 on IMDb and you can stream it on Netflix.
19. I Saw The Devil (2010)
Directed by Kim Jee-woon, this South Korean film stars Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik in lead roles. The movie follows the life of an Intelligence Service agent who goes on a journey to exact revenge when his fiancee is brutally murdered. The man behind the murder is a psychopathic serial killer. The movie also premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. It has been rated 7.8 on IMDb and you can watch it on Amazon Prime Video.
20. Tom yum goong (2005)
This Thai martial arts action film lives up to its genre. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the movie stars Tony Jaa in the lead role. The film follows when a bull and a baby elephant are stolen. To find these stolen animals, the man must travel to Australia and unfold the hidden conspiracy. The movie has a rating of 7 on IMDb. It was released in multiple countries. You can now stream it on Zee5 and other OTT platforms.
21. Psychokinesis (2018)
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, this South Korean film stars Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Park Jung-min, Kim Min-jae, and Jung Yu-mi in the lead roles. This movie is the first South Korean superhero film. The movie follows a father who gains telekinetic superpowers when he drinks from a mountain spring that was hit by a meteor. He decides to use these powers to save his daughter. The movie has been rated 5.9 on IMDb and you can stream it on Netflix.
22. The Villainess (2017)
Directed by Jung Byung-gil, this South Korean action thriller film is a treat for all action lovers. The movie stars Kim Ok-vin in the lead role. The plot follows the life of an assassin who has been trained for this life since childhood. She exacts revenge to earn her freedom and get over her past. The movie has been rated 6.6 on IMDb and you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
23. Red Cliff (2008)
This Chinese epic war film stars Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen, Zhao Wei, Hu Jun, and Lin Chi-ling in the lead roles. Directed by John Woo, the movie is a period drama of sorts. It follows the journey taken by the prime minister and the emperor of the Han Dynasty to unite China. A sequel to this film was released in 2009. The movie has been rated 7.3 on IMDb.
24. Chocolate (2008)
An autistic girl needs money to treat her ill mother. But her debtors aren’t paying her back. The girl uses the power of her martial skills to get the money that belongs to her. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, this Thai martial arts film stars Yanin Vismistananda in her debut role. The movie has been rated 6.9 on IMDb and you can watch it in English, Japanese, and Thai on MX Player.
25. The Roundup (2022)
This film follows the journey of a police officer who travels to Vietnam to hand over a suspect but ends up uncovering a murderer who targets Korean tourists. Directed by Lee Sang-yong, this South Korean crime action film stars Ma Dong-seok, Son Suk-ku, and Choi Gwi-hwa in lead roles. You can watch the film on Amazon Prime Video. It has been rated 7 on IMDb.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How many awards has Headshot won?
A: The Indonesian action film has won awards for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects at the 36th Citra Awards. It has also won the International Feature Film Award at L’Étrange Festival.
Q: What is Gundala based on?
Gundala is based on a comic character created by Harya Suraminata (Hasmi) in 1969. Harya Suraminata is considered the ‘Stan Lee of Indonesia’.
Q: Is The Yinyang Master an adaptation?
A: The Chinese fantasy film is adapted from a Chinese game, Onmyōji. The game is adapted from a novel of the same name by Baku Yumemakura.
Q: Is Red Cliff based on true events?
A: According to the director of the film, John Woo, the movie is based on the battle of Red Cliffs which was fought around 200 AD in China. The battle was fought in winter when the Han dynasty was nearing its end.
Q: Has A Bittersweet Life been remade in other languages?
A: This South Korean neo-noir action drama film was remade in Hindi. Awarapan, directed by Mohit Suri, had similar plot elements. The Hindi film starred Emraan Hashmi, Shriya Saran and Ashutosh Rana.
This list contains some of the best Asian action films. Bookmark this page for those days when you are sick of Hollywood films that follow the same formula. These Asian action movies present a different perspective, that too, in a unique style. We understand that there are certainly other movies you believe should be included in the list. So don’t hesitate to let us know.
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