The 20 greatest legends of martial arts in cinema

actors and directors
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1.
Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee remains the greatest icon of martial arts cinema and a key figure of modern popular media. Had it not been for Bruce Lee and his movies in the early 1970s, it's arguable whether or not the martial arts film genre would have ever penetrated and influenced mainstream North American and European cinema and audiences the way it has over the past four decades...
 
2.
Jackie Chan
Hong Kong's cheeky, lovable and best known film star, Jackie Chan endured many years of long, hard work and multiple injuries to establish international success via his early beginnings in Hong Kong's manic martial arts cinema industry. Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on Hong Kong's famous Victoria Peak on April 7...
 
3.
Jet Li
Actor, Ying xiong
Jet Li born Li Lian Jie in Beijing, China. He started training at the Beijing wushu academy (wushu is China's national sport, largely a performance version of various martial art styles) at age eight. He won five gold medals in the Chinese championships, his first when he was only 11. In his teens, he was already a national coach...
 
5.
Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
Actor, Ip Man 2
Born in Hong Kong, Sammo Hung's acting career began while he was training in acrobatics, martial arts and dance as a child at the China Drama Academy, and he received acclaim for his performance with a troupe called "The Seven Little Fortunes." He made his feature film debut as an actor at the age of 12...
 
6.
Donnie Yen
Actor, Yip Man
Martial artist and Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen was born to newspaper editor Klyster Yen and martial arts master Bow Sim Mark. At the age of four Yen started taking up martial arts from his mother, who taught him wushu and tai chi until the age of eleven when his family emigrated to Boston, MA. From there he continued mastering wushi and tai chi...
 
10.
Michelle Yeoh
Born as Yang Zi Qiong in the mining town of Ipoh, in West Malaysia, in the lunar year of the Tiger, Michelle is the daughter of Janet Yeoh and Yeoh Kian Geik. She spoke English and Malay before Chinese. A ballet dancer since age 4, she moved to London, England to study at the Royal Academy as a teenager...
 
11.
Lieh Lo
Born in Indonesia to Cantonese parents, Lo migrated to Hong Kong in his teens, where he attended acting school and in 1962 joined the Shaw Bros. film company. By 1969 he had become the first kungfu superstar, preceding the legendary Bruce Lee. He acted in more than 100 films, usually cast as villains...
 
12.
Kara Hui
Actress, Dragon
Born Kara Hui Ying-Hung on in Shandong, China. Her Family moved to Hong Kong in 1966 and she started working at night clubs at fourteen. Her family lost their savings from her father's business acquaintances. Being left penniless, Hui's mother, herself and her siblings were forced to peddle goods on the streets of Hong Kong...
 
13.
Biao Yuen
Yuen Biao is regarded as one of the most acrobatic martial artists ever. Unfortunately, he is still underrated and not as popular as other contemporaries such as Jackie Chan, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, and Jet Li even though he is the most critically acclaimed out of all of them and the most talented as well...
 
15.
Tak-Hing Kwan
When he was 13 years old, he joined an entertainment troupe on tour of Singapore. During these years he began to study performing. In 1932 he debuted in the film "Gor Nui Ching Chiu" ("Sentimental Song of Companions' Tide") playing a bit part, shot in San Francisco (USA). Soon he came back to Hong Kong to participate in anti-Japanese opposition movement...
 
17.
Siu Tin Yuen
Already a veteran of the Peking Opera, he starred in countless black and white costume dramas before son Woo-Ping Yuen cast him in _Snake in Eagle's Shadow_ , the film which launched Jackie Chan's career. He then went on to feature alongside Chan and Jang Lee Hwang(_Snake in Eagle's Shadow_'s main villain and the villain again in this film) in the sequel _Drunken Master_...
 
18.
Stephen Chow
Stephen Chow was the only boy of his family, and has grown up as a Bruce Lee fan and a martial arts addict. His career started on TV, where he presented a children show ( "430 Space Shuttle" (1983)) and started becoming popular. He got some supporting roles, after that, and won the Taiwanese Golden Horse award for best supporting actor...
 
19.
King Hu
Director, Xia nü
He was educated in art school in Beijing, left China for Hong Kong in 1949 and entered the film industry in 1951 in the art department. In the 1950s he began acting and in 1958 joined Shaw Brothers as an actor and writer, and later a director. In 1967 he left to start his own studio in Taiwan, returned to Hong Kong in 1970s, working in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China before his death.
 
20.
Cheh Chang
Chang Cheh was the leading Martial Arts director in Hong Kong in the 1970s, now with close to 100 films to his name. His has influenced other directors such as John Woo and Liu Chiau Liang, and made famous such Hong Kong stars as Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok, Fu Sheng and Lung Ti. Chang has declared that he will stop working after he has made his 101st film...