John Cameron

John Cameron

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Martial Arts Movies

The best martial arts movies for Families



Who else remembers movie nights as a child? Whether you were at a friend’s place, having 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, a drink and going on a cinematic adventure. Recently, we asked our students and Facebook fans 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 can remember watching it again 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 Canada and the beaches where frozen  at the time.

Fun fact: the cast, most of whom had no karate experience, learned martial arts from 9th-degree black belt

3 Ninjas

This was directed by Jon Turteltaub of National Treasure fame, so you know it’s going to be good. Three pre-teen boys the ninjutsu they learned from their Japanese grandfather to defeat the boss of a crime syndicate.

Surf Ninjas

In the Facebook poll, Surf Ninja didn’t have the most votes, statistically, but it had some of the most excited voters! Numerous 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 TurtlesThe Secret of the Ooze, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III all got some of the highest scores.

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 well-known trilogy got enough comments 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 martial arts.

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 Never Ending 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-olds dream, but honestly, being Chuck Norris’ sidekick is probably every other martial artists’ dream. Sidekicks plays up the respect 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

It is probably more of an adult movie than a kids but, I’m going to let this stand in the “kid’s movie” category simply because I was a younger teenager when I first saw it.  Although I have to say that there’s some debauched language and it seems a little more darker than a lot of these others. Five disparate martial artists end up on the same team for an upcoming worldwide martial arts tournament. However, they all have their own personal reasons for wanting to fight in the tournament, and those reasons aren’t the most favourable 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

What do you think, Is it as good as the original? Probably not but it does have Jackie Chan in it. F

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