Mixed Martial Arts Movies – A Legacy
Do you watch the best mixed martial arts movies? In the past 20 years, the popularity of martial arts has increased thanks to mixed martial arts (MMA) and UFC. MMA movies are still not as frequent as you might assume, even though the sport, events, fans, and enthusiasm are quite mainstream.
The concept of mixed martial arts competition and style should go hand in hand with strong action and filmmaking.
Top 20 Best Mixed Martial Arts Movies
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, mixed martial arts have become more popular. Under Dana White, the UFC has established itself as a household name in practically every nation. As the word “martial arts” suggests, it is a form of art, and more people are starting to recognize it for what it is: art.
While occasionally nasty and aggressive, it can be motivating and innovative. Several films have influenced the sport’s popularity. Both movies and martial arts can be entertaining. It’s always a good time when a movie can successfully blend the two.
The top martial arts movies list is below. The list is not exclusive to MMA as a sport or competition. Films with martial arts sequences are also on the list. The top MMA films of all time are also available. You can find some of these top MMA movies on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. UFC movie fans will adore these action films.
Red Belt (2008)
The first movie on my list, Red Belt, centers on a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. He struggles to uphold his moral principles in the corrupt and money-hungry world of professional fighting.
Although this movie leans more toward drama than action, it contains some good sequences that showcase the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu martial art.
The movie also highlights its core principles and way of life. As the main character, Mike Terry competes in a mixed martial arts competition against his morals to support his BJJ club. It features reputable names like the Machados, Randy Couture, and other MMA competitors.
This movie is fantastic to watch and thought-provoking. I heartily endorse it.
The Philly Kid (2002)
This movie is one of the best fight movies. It is about a former NCAA champion wrestler who accepts a series of cage battles to protect his friend from loan sharks after serving ten years in jail. Wes Chatham perfectly portrays the lead, particularly in the cage.
The movie has issues with clichés and lacks substance, which hurts the overall plot. What makes the film successful are believable fight scenes and good actor performances. The film also has a good score, written by Ian Honeyman.
Blood & Bones (2009)
In the Los Angeles-set movie “Blood and Bone,” an ex-con takes on the underground fighting scene by storm while trying to keep a vow to a comrade already dead. Every lover of martial arts movies must now be aware of how awesome Michael Jai White is as a badass.
The film’s action sequences feature several well-known fighters, including Bob Sapp, Kimbo Slice, and Maurice Smith. The movie has fast-paced, expertly choreographed battle scenes that are stylish and thrilling. If you enjoy violent, bone-crushing action movies, this is what you’ll consider being enjoyable.
The Raid (2011)
Welsh director Gareth Evans created the 2011 Indonesian martial arts action movie The Raid, which he wrote, produced, and edited. From beginning to end, the movie is intense, and when I say intense, I don’t exaggerate. An elite squad infiltrates Amid Jakarta, a merciless Drug Lord’s high-rise skyscraper.
The choreography of the movie’s combat scenes would impress a pro fighter. The fights are immaculate in terms of agility and timing. In addition, there are shootings, and several get severe injuries. A cage or a contest does not constrain the characters in this movie.
The building’s concrete walls serve as the cage, and the object of the competition is to live while eliminating every enemy (hundreds of them). The film’s fast-paced editing and gorgeous photography keep the pulse running throughout. The only weakness you might find is a lack of character depth, but in my opinion, the action makes up for it.
The Hammer (2010)
You won’t want to miss this if you’re a fan of the UFC. The biographical movie “The Hammer,” based on Matt Hammil, a deaf wrestler, and former UFC fighter, depicts Hammil’s character as he overcomes obstacles to rise to the top. The man did compete in the biggest MMA platform in the world. However, this is more of a “wrestling” movie than a full-fledged MMA one.
Additionally, wrestling is a component of MMA movies. Therefore it qualifies. Russell Harvard portrays Hammil as the mature H.W. Plainview. Harvard performs well and manages to keep his character likable and approachable.
The movie’s sound design is excellent on purpose, and it makes excellent use of the subtitles for a film aimed at people with disabilities like Hammil.
Fighting is a 2009 sports/action movie starring Terrence Howard and Channing Tatum. Shawn, played by Tatum, engages in a street battle when Howard’s character, Harvey, comes across him and his tenacity strikes him. Harvey enlists Shawn, who prepares him for combat.
In contrast to most of the movies on the list, the bouts in the movie take place behind closed doors, and wealthy individuals who like placing bets on “their guy” and crushing “the other guy” fund them.
Despite the common action cliché issues, the film’s great character development keeps the audience interested. The movie has the guts to focus on characters, which is something that most martial arts movies fall short of. Zulay Henao stands out as the movie’s supporting actress.
Here Comes the Boom (2012)
Here Comes the Boom is mostly a comedy, but virtually the entire rest of the plot revolves around mixed martial arts. Kevin James portrays a biology teacher who trains for the MMA to raise money to keep his failing high school’s “extracurricular activities” from failing.
Fans of the UFC will be happy to recognize well-known figures like Bruce Buffer, Herb Dean, Joe Rogan, Wanderlei Silva, etc. Even though the humor appears forced and the premise is likable, Kevin James and his character make it difficult to dislike this movie.
James’s character is likable, and you can’t help but smile as you watch him interact with his supporting cast members. Surprisingly, Bas Rutten shines as the movie’s best character.
Bloodsport is among the best 80’s martial arts movies. In Bloodsport 1988, Frank Dux, a martial artist serving in the U.S. military, decides to resign so that he can participate in a Kumite tournament in Hong Kong.
The contest is extremely violent and covert, and there may be fights that end in deaths. One of the movies that improved Jean Claude Van Damme’s standing in filmmaking was “Bloodsport.”
The movie had a modest budget of about $2 million, but it made almost $65 million in revenue. Since then, a cult has formed around the movie. The movie suffers from a cliched narrative and a lack of creativity. It’s also difficult to ignore the poor performance in the film. But the picture benefits from the skillfully staged and handled battle scenes.
One of the first movies to feature Van Damme’s fighting skills was “Bloodsport.” As a result of its popularity, the actor went on to greater and better things. Bolo Yeung deserves special recognition for his role as the vicious combatant. I’m always terrified of death around this man.
Never Back Down (2008)
The music, fight scenes, and gym scenes in “Never Back Down” will have you wanting to get up off the couch and start punching and kicking people. The movie follows a brash young man who is constantly on the run, as is characteristic of high school action movies. When he enrolls in a new school, the bullies—invariably the popular kids—demand that he gives in.
He gets an introduction to the MMA scene and shows an initial interest in it. Even if what happens is frequently cliche, the movie nonetheless succeeds in being entertaining.
Cam Gigandet, who plays the movie’s villain and confident bully, performs satisfactorily. The soundtrack, as indicated previously, well complements the movie, and the action scenes are excellent.
Undisputed II: Last Man Standing (2006)
Undisputed II undoubtedly surpasses its predecessor, a rare accomplishment for a sequel. The Undisputed series reached a new level as Scott Adkins entered the spotlight. The movie centers on the character of Michael Jai White (from the prequel).
He gets imprisonment in Russia on false drug charges and discovers illicit martial arts contests are happening close to the prison. Yuri Boyka, played by Adkins, is the clear winner of the competition; yet, Jai White’s character becomes apart from him.
The fight scenes in the movie, which the characters do stunningly, are what most people find impressive. Both White and Adkins’ innate talent is in full utilization. Every combat scene is a delight because director Isaac Florentine is so exact and attentive with his angles and details. The movie frequently suffers from cliched speech and storyline twists.
The 2011 movie Warrior centers on two estranged brothers who engage in cage fighting because of external factors. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton portray the brothers, and Gavin O’Connor is the director. While Brendan, played by Edgerton, is a physics teacher struggling to support his family, Tommy, played by Hardy, is a former marine.
During high school, both brothers participated in wrestling and boxing. Nick Nolte portrays the father of the two brothers and an alcoholic in recovery. There are no weak performances in the movie. Edgerton and Hardy both play roles that are incredibly intriguing and powerful.
Nick Nolte’s nomination for an Academy Award for an outstanding supporting actor was right.
The action scenes are well-done, and the cinematography is stunning. Both the tale and the characters in Warrior are rich.
The storylines and personalities are individual narrations in the movie’s first half. Still, they face off against one another in the second act. You’re on the edge of your seat the entire third act because it’s intense.
Flash Point (2007)
This movie is a thriller about a Vietnamese gang that kidnaps an undercover police officer and his girlfriend. But the reason it’s there is that Donnie Yen wanted to use the combat sequences to represent MMA and introduce it to Hong Kong moviegoers.
He is one of the best martial arts action flicks ever made and successfully employs MMA techniques and groundwork in the bouts. I heartily endorse this movie!
The movie Choke is one of the 90’s martial arts movies. The journey of Rickson Gracie in the world of “no holds barred freestyle combat,” or what would later become known as MMA, is in this movie.
As a student and practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I know that this movie inspired many people from my generation to take up martial arts (MMA) and the gentle art of jiu-jitsu. It also demonstrated how popular MMA is in Japan and how there is a larger talent pool than in the UFC.
The Smashing Machine (2002)
This movie follows Mark Kerr as he transitions from wrestling to combat sports. Choke and this movie are both essential viewings, in my opinion, since they are the best representations of competitive martial arts as a sport.
The UFC is a promotion inside the sport, not the sport itself. The sport is a mixed martial art, and this movie does a terrific job illustrating how MMA could surpass boxing in popularity worldwide.
“Dawg Fight” (2015)
The journey to becoming a martial artist started with backyard fights. I also enjoy Billy Corben, who directed this movie. If you’re a fan of Kimbo Slice or Jorge Masvidal, you should know that their roads to prominence began in Florida’s backyard brawl scene.
Masvidal, the current Baddest kicker in the UFC, started his career by competing in backyard fights in Florida for meager pay. It is not for the faint of heart, so get this advice right.
‘ROLL: Jiu-Jitsu in SoCal’
I consider ROLL more of an upgrade to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) tradition from the seeds Choke sowed. BJJ is an essential component of MMA, as demonstrated by Royce Gracie’s dominance over other martial artists in the first UFC one-night, no-rules tournament.
Still, this movie does a good job of capturing the deeper aspects of art and culture. To “roll” is to practice BJJ in real-time for those who are unaware.
‘Jiu-Jitsu vs. the World’ (2016)
In addition to showcasing a “who’s who” of the BJJ community, a close examination of the art revealed that the form we place above other forms of expression has a society and culture that treat you with the same respect as you do it. Many interviews with BJJ practitioners who competed in MMA or will soon compete confirmed so.
‘Kurt Osiander Documentary’ (2014)
By mentioning Osiander, who has competed in MMA, I’m giving away a lot of information about his YouTube instructional series, “move of the week.” I’ve added many of those moves to my toolkit during my BJJ experience, so when the documentary came out, I knew I had to watch it.
Osiander informs the audience that he prefers to help people be good, not simply good at jiu-jitsu. It further demonstrates how the karate kid’s lesson about instructors and students struck a chord with him.
“Enter the Dragon” (1973)
Although I did mention “in no particular order” at the beginning of this list, I did save the finest for last. Bruce Lee defeats an opponent using customized gloves in the opening scene of a contest in which they are both only wearing shorts (tap out).
Not to mention that the UFC is currently preparing to relocate its international fighter operations to an island that resembles Han’s island in this movie and hosts a martial arts competition. This one will always be interesting, but let’s hope the UFC is only using it for friendly competition and not for shady purposes, as Mr. Han did.
Conor McGregor: Notorious’ (2017)
Because I was aware of McGregor’s rise to prominence in MMA movies, I watched this movie even though I didn’t believe it was worthwhile for me at the time. In hindsight, it’s still helpful to see because it exemplifies how he—and anyone who decides to devote their lives to competition—can achieve their goals. Before he began training, McGregor was in need.
Still, today he is likely the highest-paid fighter in the history of the sport. Some would argue that everyone’s pay increased along with his.
Several films, including karate movies, show fighting competitions, which typically feature numerous fusions of various disciplines and styles, are coming up. This is due to the growing number of martial artists who are competent in acting.
You should emphasize that those movies were also the first to attempt to depict mixed martial arts. As it is currently understood, vicious wrestling-style fights focus on grappling and submission moves. Examples include the movies Bloodsport, The Quest, and, to some extent, Best of the Best, even though it bases on a taekwondo competition.
The development of special effects and stunt procedures to protect actors from harm and further appeal to viewers, often at the sacrifice of realism, was also influenced by the popularity of action films involving combat scenes.
There has been an increase in demand for talented battle choreographers who can stage spectacular duels and multiple-participant conflicts. This is due to the number of sophisticated fight scenes in movies. Even today, to ensure the best battle scenes, American filmmakers must use Asian specialists, such as the renowned master of fight choreography Yuen Woo-ping.