They can act convincingly onscreen. But unlike those that can only cry and make you laugh, or those that rely only on their good looks, these guys can grace us with the intense physicality that blow our minds away. Forget those A-listers who appear as hand-to-hand experts only because their choreographers let them so. These people are the real deal. Who do you think among them is the greatest martial-artist in movies?
The action star with no insurance policy, that’s the most intriguing tagline for this guy who is a legendary martial-artist and stuntman in his own right. Because of the risk and scale of Chan’s insistence in performing his own stunts, no insurance company is very willing to insure him. In the perspective of all of the world’s actors and directors, Jackie Chan is undoubtedly the world’s greatest stuntman.
Real Name: Chan Kong-sang
Born: April 7, 1954
Most Popular Movie: Rush Hour
He is cited by many as the most influential martial artist of all time. Apart from being known for his strict physical discipline which made him seem to appear as superhuman, his most notable achievement was changing how Hollywood depicts Asians in movies.
Real Name: Lee Jun-fan
Born: November 27, 1940
Died: July 20, 1973 (aged 32)
Most Popular Movie: Enter The Dragon
He is a real life martial arts instructor who in spite of his small stature has gained worldwide fame when he starred as Mad Dog in The Raid: Redemption, alongside Iko Uwais. Although he portrayed the villainous role, he became more popular than the lead character in the movie. He also appeared in Star Wars Episode VII as a space pirate named Tasu Leech.
Real Name: Yayan Ruhian
Born: October 29, 1968
Other Movies: The Raid 2, Yakuza Apocalypse
A martial artist turned model, turned actor – that’s how he got to be a world-renowned action star. When chosen to be one of The Expendables by Sylvester Stallone himself, Statham got hailed into the latter’s league along with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Real Name: Jason Statham
Born: July 29, 1967
Most Popular Movie: The Transporter
As a former member of the US Airforce, who then pursued a martial-arts and movie career, he is your typical real-life action combatant. His rise to fame came to fruition when he took the role as Bruce Lee’s antagonist in Way of The Dragon.
Real Name: Carlos Ray Norris
Born: March 10, 1940
Most Popular Movie: The Delta Force
The suave protagonist who “never gets touched by the bad guys,” some filmgoers view him as such because of his style and expertise in a ‘catch and throw’ type of martial-arts. In real life, Steven might just be as difficult to trifle with in matters of hand to hand as he is actually a 7-Dan Black Belt holder in his many years of training.
Real Name: Steven Frederic Seagal
Born: April 10, 1952
Most Popular Movie: Under Siege
As a Wushu champion who retired at the tender age of 19, he chose a different path instead. Having decided to be a martial-arts movie star, he went on to become the world’s most popular Shaolin character Wong Fei-hung in the cinematic series, Once Upon a Time in China.
Real Name: Li Lianjie
Born: April 26, 1963
Other Movies: Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die
He is a bona fide leading man who happens to be an action star as well. Though he is obviously one of the most popular martial-artists still active today, this is not only his most notable trait as he is also a brilliant director, choreographer, producer and a former Wushu champion.
Real Name: Zhen Zidan
Born: July 27, 1963
Most Popular Movie: Ip Man
Jean Claude Van Damme
He is known as “The Muscles From Brussels,” since he came from that region in Belgium. Having starred in several movies that he himself wrote and produced, he is the martial-artist who popularized the term “kickboxing” particularly in the late 80s and early 90s.
Real Name: Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg
Born: October 16, 1960
Most Popular Movie: Bloodsport
Martial-arts and spirituality, merge them together in its finest degree and you get this guy from Surin, Thailand. With the understanding that the most able bodies can only be achieved with the calmest spiritual minds, he decided to be a Buddhist monk in 2010.
Real Name: Worawit Yeerum
Born: February 5, 1976
Most Popular Movie: Ong-Bak
Who among them should be ranked as No. 1?