This is a rundown of my Top 40 kung fu movies of the 1970s. There were so many great films in this era, and I just hope I do this list justice. The movies chosen are just my personal choice; I understand others might have different views.

40. (1972)

Starring – Chen Kuan Tai, David Chiang, Cheng Hong Yip, Ku Feng

Boxer From Shantung follows Ma Yongzhen and Xiao Jiangbei. Ma and Xiao are manual laborers busting their tails in Shanghai at the beginning of the film, and Ma's first with the crime lord Tan Si starts him off on the underworld influence ladder. Step by step, he earns the respect of everyone he meets, either with his strength of character or by beating them up. When he gets a really big break by defeating a Russian strongman, he indulges himself in a fancy cigarette holder, much like the one Tan Si uses. However, he is mindful of his humble beginnings, and of the fact that times are still tough for many in Shanghai. He shares his good fortune with his old fellow wage slaves, and when they assist him in his various extralegal activities, he lectures them on the futility of trying to extort money from people who simply don't have any to spare.

The tea house that Ma and his underlings frequent employs a singer, Jin Lingzi, and her uncle, who provides the music. Ms. Jin's hopes that Ma's arrival will mark a turn for the better for conditions in the crime-plagued city are dashed when she ascertains that he isn't different enough from the other bosses she's seen rise and fall.

39. (1972)

Starring – , Nora Miao, Chuck Norris, Wang In S

Tang Lung (Lee) is sent from Hong Kong to Rome to help his friend's niece Chen Ching Hua, and family friends, whose restaurant is being targeted by the local Mafia, which has been trying to force them to sign a contract handing over ownership of the restaurant to the Mafia boss. After their offers to purchase the restaurant are repeatedly turned down, the gangsters resort to intimidation. Tang fends off the local gangsters and wins Chen's admiration, who had initially looked down on him for his naïveté.

The Mafia boss' lieutenant Ho (Wei Ping Ao) hires foreign martial artists, two of whom have trouble communicating with each other, to challenge Tang Lung.Tang has a final showdown inside the Colosseum with the Karate fighter Colt (Chuck Norris), the best of the hired fighters, and the only one able to fully communicate with him despite the language barrier. This is one of the greatest fights captured on film.

38.Marco Polo (1975)

Starring: Fu Sheng, Leung Kar Yan, Gordon Liu, Richard Harrison

This movie see Richard Harrison playing the lead role of Marco Polo in this historic movie. It also included some the best the Shaw Brothers kung-fu film units had to offer. The result is a splendid historical tale as well as a superlative martial arts thriller.

37. (1974)

Starring: Fu Sheng, Chen Kuan Tai, Bruce Tong, Fong Sam

Of the dozens of great martial arts movies made by this prolific and respected director, this tale of legendary Shaolin avengers Fang Shih-Yu (Fong Sai Yuk) and Hung Hsi-Kuan is often considered one of the best of Chang Cheh. His collaboration with equally renowned kung fu choreographer Liu Chia Liang was apparent in all the performances, but especially with that of charismatic, capable, 19-year-old Alexander Fu Sheng. This powerful production is a true landmark in kung fu film history.

36. (1971)

Starring – Jimmy Wang Yu, Lung Fei, Ko Sau Leung

Tien Lung, the best fighter at the Ching Te martial arts school gets into a fight with the local Hook Gang at a restaurant where Tien Lung and his friends are dining. The Hook Gang are part of a local opium-dealing and prostitution ring run by a man named Chao and are rivals of the Ching Te school. The Ching Te school is the most prominent martial arts academy in town and controls the local clothes-dyeing and brick factories. In a quick battle, Tien and his friends easily defeat the Hook gang both in the restaurant and again later in the valley where they have a battle royale.

As things start to get out of hand, rival schools turn against him and quickly target him to try and kill him. Chao plans his revenge by hiring a group of mercenary martial artists from Shanghai. This group consists of two karate experts and their teacher, a Judo master, a Taekwondo expert, two Thai boxing fighters, a Yoga expert, and two mystic Tibetan lamas (who are later revealed in the sequel to be students of an Imperial Assassin).

35. (1971)

Starring – Bruce Lee, James Tien, Nora Miao, lam Ching Ying

Cheng (Bruce Lee) is a Chinese man from Guangdong who has moved to Thailand to live with his uncle. He works in an ice factory with his cousins. When a block of ice is accidentally broken, a bag of white powder falls out. Several of Cheng's cousins are asked to stay to see the manager, who tells them there are better jobs for them. The factory is really a front for a drug smuggling ring led by the Big Boss, Hsiao Mi. When they refuse to cooperate, they are killed and their bodies disposed of.

Two more cousins, Hsu Chien and Ah Pei, go to Hsiao Mi's house to ask about their brothers. They realize he is hiding something and inform the police. Hsiao Mi has them killed. The Big Boss now makes Cheng a foreman, providing him with alcohol and prostitutes. When one of the prostitutes tells Cheng the truth, he breaks into the factory at night and finds his cousins' bodies. He is discovered by the gangsters. Cheng fights his way out, killing the Big Boss's son Hsiao Chiun in the process. When he returns home, he finds his entire family has been murdered. There is only one thing on his mind and that is revenge.


34. (1978)

Starring – Lee I Min, Jack Long, Lung Fei, Corey Yuen

An aging Kung Fu master sets out on a journey to test his incredible fighting skills against other masters for one last time before retiring from the fight forever. Along the way, a young rascal persuades the old master to accept him as his final student. The young man excels, and quickly becomes proficient in Kung Fu. He then delivers a shocking challenge that reveals a dark, deadly secret. The final showdown between the masters threatens to shake they very pillars of heaven!

33. (1979)

Starring – Fung Hak On, Wilson Tong, Angela Mao, Ng Kwan Lung

Wilson Tong Wai-shing directs this low budget cult kung fu flick. Kuo Chung (Ng Kwan-lung) is the straight-laced son of a adored local leader who gives the poor free food but who also has a gruesome past. Sworn enemy Yueh I (Fung Hak-on) seeks the elder Kuo out, looking for revenge. While out on a morning constitutional, the younger Kuo discovers a young girl being abused by a band of bullies. After getting rid of them, Kuo learns that the lass has been sold to a local brothel. Vowing to get her out of bondage, he confronts the madam only to learn that she is an accomplished sword fighter. Just as Kuo looks as if he is going to get pulped, Yueh steps in a saves the day. Later, Kuo and his dim-witted associate try to fleece a casino only to find themselves at the mercy of the establishment's thuggish manager. Again, just as Kuo looks like he's going to snuff it, Yueh steps in and saves the day. Soon Yueh takes Kuo on as his student, putting him through a brutal training regime and teaching him the finer points of snake fist style. Later, Yueh has Kuo seek out a notorious criminal only to be shocked at what he discovers.

32.Hot, Cool And Vicious (1976)

Starring – Tan Tao Liang, Don Wong Tao, Phillip Ko Fei

Tan Tao Liang plays ‘Northern Leg' Captain Lu, the towns ‘sheriff' who finds himself in deep water when the mayor's son murders his (Capt Lu's) mother-in-law. Lu is steadfast in his resolve to catch the killer but has many obstacles put in his way, particularly Ms. Li (Suen Ga Lam); the sister of an ex-sheriff who Lu accidentally killed and wants revenge, and the mayor, who hires Pai Yu Ching to protect his house from any would-be lawmen that might try to arrest his son.

When matters get out of hand the mayor calls on his partner, the strange Mr Lung (Tommy Lee), for help. Mr Lung is a kind of golden haired, white faced gorilla-like creature that speaks in an echoed voice and walks with a limp. He is, however, extremely competent at mantis kung fu. Capt Lu and Pai Yu Ching then hunt down Mr. Lung for a final showdown.

31. (1979)

Starring – , James Tien, Dean Shek Tien, Yen Shi Kwan

Shing Lung (Jackie Chan) is a youngster, living in a remote village with his grandfather, kung fu master Chen Peng-fei (James Tien). Lung does not take his training seriously enough, he gambles, and he gets into fights which lead him to display the skills his grandfather has told him he must keep secret.

Lung runs into three thugs he'd beaten up earlier, who ask him to teach them kung fu. Lung meets their sifu, Ti Cha (Lee Kwan), the unskilled leader of the Everything Clan. Master Ti offers Lung a lucrative job training his students and fighting against the top fighters from rival schools. This boosts the reputation of the school and of the scheming Master Ti. However, Lung makes the mistake of naming the school under the Sien Yi clan name. This comes to the attention of evil kung fu master Yen Ting Hua (Yen Shi Kwan), who finds and kills Lung's grandfather. But, Lung eventually takes revenge for his grandfather's murder after undergoing rigorous training from The Unicorn (Chan Wai-Lau).

Top 40 Kung Fu movies of the 70's (30-21), will be coming very soon.

Source:Wikpedia – HK Cinemagic – Rotten Tomatoes.

About the author


Hi my name is Justyn Hughes, I have been involved or watched martial art kung fu movies most my life. I started muay thai when i was around 4-5 years old for ten years. I became a fan of kung fu flicks after watching prodigal Son in the mid 90's and that blew me away. Some of my favorite stars are: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, lam Ching Ying, Lau Kar Leung, Ti Lung, David Chiang, Chen Kuan Tai and many more.

King Of Kung Fu (Justyn Hughes)

Favorite movie: The prodigal Son

  • hmmm

    there were a LOT of these Kung Fu movies that I watched and I can’t recall their names.

    In fact I don’t even know how popular the kung fu martial arts movies were back in the days.
    But in todays’ standard, they seem to have larger audiences, for the fact that there are people who study martial arts and others liking kick ass.

    All thanks to Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and jet Li.
    Those 3 names are the ones people know who pioneered martial arts movies, while the ones who were making cool kung fu movies are forgotten.

  • This list is AWESOME! It’s hard to know what’s still in print or not, but this is a great place to continue building my collection from!

  •  I don’t agree with some but I would like to know why you decide to give those places to those movies. Great list anyway!

    •  This is just my personal choice of movies. When you see the rest of the list, you will know why they are included and why they are in this part of the top 40, thanks.

  • Searching for a 70’s chinese movie /chinese man had long hair and he would whip his opponet with the long braid.

    • Choy lee fat kung fu starring Philip ko and Cliff Lok.l believe this is the film you’re looking for.

  • Hello, I am seeking an early 1970’s Kung Fu movie, The story dealt with Occupying Japanese troops in china, and the Hero who faces them when Fighting would use Two Bricks as weapons that he would smack together, Thanks in advance.

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