Immerse your kids in the thrilling world of martial arts with this curated list of the top 20 martial arts movies and films of all time!
These films, packed with breathtaking action scenes, life lessons, and memorable characters, offer exciting, wholesome entertainment for the whole family.
Whether your child is a budding martial artist or simply loves a good action flick, these films are sure to captivate, inspire, and entertain.
The Top 20 Best Karate and Martial Arts Movies and Films for Kids
The Karate Kid (1984): The first film in the original Karate Kid trilogy introduced us to Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, a young martial arts student, and his sensei Mr. Miyagi, brilliantly portrayed by Pat Morita. Set in the San Fernando Valley, this classic underdog story never grows old.
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The Karate Kid Part II (1989): In the sequel, Daniel and Mr. Miyagi head to Okinawa to face new challenges and confront Sato’s nephew. Directed by John G. Avildsen, this film further explores the themes of respect and discipline.
The Karate Kid Part III (1989): The release of the final film in the original trilogy presented a new antagonist, Terry Silver, played by Thomas Ian Griffith. Despite mixed reviews at the time, it’s now considered a cult classic.
The Next Karate Kid (1994): Introducing Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce, a young woman from New Jersey grappling with anger issues, this sequel gave a new perspective to the Karate Kid brand. It’s an excellent choice for young girls who need a relatable character.
The Karate Kid (2010): This remake of the original movie saw Jaden Smith as Dre Parker alongside martial arts master Jackie Chan as Mr. Han. Their story, set in a Chinese restaurant, proved a hit at the box office and received high scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
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Cobra Kai (2018 – Present): This TV series, now in its fifth season, brings back William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence and Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, reigniting their old rivalry from high school in the Cobra Kai dojo.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): This group of kids turned ninjas uses their martial arts skills, including Muay Thai, to defeat bad guys. Initially a TV series, it successfully transitioned to the big screen.
3 Ninjas (1992): In this fun, family-friendly film, young boys Rocky, Colt, and Tum Tum use their martial arts skills taught by their Japanese grandfather to find a treasure map and save the day.
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Kung Fu Panda (2008): A popular cartoon series turned film, it introduces audiences to Po, a panda turned Kung Fu Master, and his fight against the forces of evil. It’s a must-watch for its humor and heartwarming underdog story.
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Dragon Ball Evolution (2009): Based on the successful anime series, this movie features mystical martial arts sequences that have fascinated kids for years. A good watch for Dragon Ball fans.
The Last Airbender (2010): Adapted from a popular cartoon series, the movie combines the elements of martial arts with the magic of bending elements. It’s filled with great performances and exciting action scenes.
Sidekicks (1993): Jonathan Brandis and Chuck Norris star in this martial arts film about a young boy who dreams of being a martial artist like his idol Norris. It’s a beautiful coming-of-age tale filled with karate action.
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Karate Dog (2005): Voiced by Chevy Chase, the Karate Dog teams up with a detective (played by Jon Voight) to solve a murder. A light-hearted film, it offers a few chuckles along with the martial arts action.
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Surf Ninjas (1993): Two California surfer brothers discover they are the rightful owners of a Southeast Asian kingdom. As they embrace their royal destiny, they also fight off bad guys using their newfound martial arts skills.
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The Forbidden Kingdom (2008): Combining the martial arts prowess of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, the film follows a South Boston teenager’s adventure in a mystical world to free the imprisoned Monkey King.
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005): While not a martial arts film in the traditional sense, it does feature scenes with Sharkboy, portrayed by Taylor Lautner, showing off his martial arts skills.
Power Rangers (2017): Based on the popular TV series, this movie showcases high school kids who gain superpowers and martial arts skills to save the world. It’s an entertaining watch for the whole family.
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Mulan (1998 & 2020): Both versions of Disney’s Mulan showcase the heroine’s martial arts skills in action, a young woman who disguises herself as a man to save her father. It’s an inspiring watch for kids.
TMNT (2007): The CGI rendition of the classic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers a modern take on the crime-fighting quartet, adding new martial arts elements to the mix.
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Big Hero 6 (2014): A blend of technology and martial arts, the team of six superheroes use their brain and brawn to battle the forces of evil in this animated film.
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These movies are not just about action and martial arts; they teach values like discipline, respect, resilience, and the spirit of an underdog.
Whether it’s the original films, TV shows, or new film releases, the essence remains the same – making martial arts movies a timeless favorite for kids and adults alike.
Best times to watch:
Family Movie Nights: Make any night a movie night. Watching a martial arts movie after dinner is a great way to wind down and spend quality time together as a family.
Weekend Afternoons: When you’re all lounging at home with no set plan, pop in a movie. These films can keep the kids entertained and provide a relaxing weekend activity.
During School Breaks: Holidays, summer vacations, or even long weekends can be an ideal time to have a movie marathon of martial arts films.
Rainy Days: When the weather is bad and outdoor activities aren’t an option, these movies can provide an exciting indoor alternative.
Before or After Martial Arts Class: If your kids are taking martial arts classes, watching these films can be a great source of motivation and inspiration.
Birthdays or Special Occasions: If your child is a martial arts enthusiast, a themed movie party can be a fun and unique way to celebrate.
As a Reward: Had a good week at school? Finished chores without being asked? Use these movies as a special treat for good behavior or accomplishments.
Remember, though, it’s essential to ensure the content is age-appropriate, and be sure to balance screen time with other activities for your kids.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are martial arts movies popular among kids?
Martial arts movies often feature themes of resilience, respect, and discipline. They can inspire children with their stories of underdogs overcoming obstacles. Plus, the action-packed sequences are exciting and engaging to watch.
Are all these movies suitable for children of all ages?
While most of these films are family-friendly, some may contain scenes that could be intense for younger children. We recommend parents to check the film’s rating and reviews before showing them to very young kids.
Where can I find these martial arts movies?
Many of these movies can be found on popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. They may also be available for rent or purchase on digital platforms like Google Play and iTunes.
Can my child learn martial arts from watching these movies?
While these movies can certainly spark an interest in martial arts, they’re primarily for entertainment. Proper martial arts training should be conducted by certified instructors.
How do martial arts movies influence kids?
Beyond the fun and excitement, martial arts movies can teach kids about respect, discipline, perseverance, and the importance of peace over violence. They can also boost self-confidence and introduce kids to different cultures.
Are these movies in any particular order?
The list is not ranked. All the movies mentioned are great in their own right, and the choice depends on individual preference and age appropriateness.
Are the martial arts depicted in these movies accurate?
While some movies strive for accuracy, others use stylized, exaggerated, or fantasy-based martial arts for entertainment value. They should not be considered accurate depictions of real-world martial arts techniques.
Why are the Karate Kid films so popular?
The Karate Kid films are a mix of drama, action, and life lessons. With relatable characters and compelling storylines, they’ve remained popular over the years. They’re great for teaching children about resilience, respect, and friendship.