Movie Martial Artists

Everybody's Kung Fu fighting! Also Aikido, Karate, Wu Shu and a huge list of combinations and variations. This, then, is a list of martial arts actors (this word often applied loosely) who have either become very well known, been extremely influential in Western cinema, or both.
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Bruce Lee

1940-1973

Bruce Lee (born Lee Jun-fan; 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was a martial artist, actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, and filmmaker. The founder of Jeet Kune Do, Lee was the son of Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-Chuen. He is widely considered by commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be one of the most influential martial artists of all time, and a pop culture icon of the 20th century. He is often credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films.
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Jackie Chan

1954-

Jackie Chan, (born Chan Kong-sang, 7 April 1954) is a Hong Kong actor, action choreographer, comedian, director, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer, and stunt performer. In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts. He is one of the few actors that did all of his stunts in all of his films. Jackie Chan has been acting since the 1960s and has appeared in over 150 films.
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Chuck Norris

1940 -

Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American martial artist and actor. After serving in the United States Air Force, he began his rise to fame as a martial artist, and has since founded his own school, Chun Kuk Do.

Norris appeared in a number of action films, such as Way of the Dragon, in which he starred alongside Bruce Lee, and was The Cannon Group's leading star in the 1980s. He played the starring role in the television series Walker, Texas Ranger from 1993 until 2001.


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Jean Claude Van Damme

1960-

Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg (born 18 October 1960), professionally known as Jean-Claude Van Damme, is a Belgian martial artist, actor, and director best known for his martial arts action films. The most successful of these films include Bloodsport (1988), Kickboxer (1989), Universal Soldier (1992), Hard Target (1993), Timecop (1994), Sudden Death (1995), JCVD (2008) and The Expendables 2 (2012).
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Steven Seagal

1952-

Steven Frederic Seagal (born April 10, 1952) is an American action film star, producer, writer, martial artist, guitarist and reserve deputy sheriff. A 7th-dan black belt in Aikido, Seagal began his adult life as an Aikido instructor in Japan. He became the first foreigner to operate an Aikido dojo in Japan.

He later moved to the Los Angeles, California, area where he made his film debut in 1988 in Above the Law. By 1991, he had starred in three successful films, and would go on to achieve greater fame in Under Siege (1992), where he played Navy SEALs counter-terrorist expert Casey Ryback. However both On Deadly Ground (1994, which he directed) and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) did poorly in theaters. During the later half of the 90s, he starred in three more theatrical films and a direct-to-video The Patriot. Aside from Exit Wounds (2001) and Half Past Dead (2002), his career shifted almost entirely to direct-to-video films (often low budget productions and shot in Europe or Asia). Between 1998 to 2009, he appeared in a total of 22 of these. At the age of 59, he returned to the big screen as Torrez in the 2010 film Machete. As of 2011, he's currently busy with the third season of his reality show Steven Seagal: Lawman.


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Jet Li

1963 -

Li Lianjie (born 26 April 1963), better known by his stage name Jet Li, is a Chinese film actor, film producer, martial artist, and wushu champion who was born in Beijing. He is a naturalized Singaporean citizen.

After three years of intensive training with Wu Bin, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. After retiring from Wushu at age 19, he went on to win great acclaim in China as an actor making his debut with the film Shaolin Temple (1982). He went on to star in many critically acclaimed martial arts epic films, most notably the Once Upon A Time In China series, in which he portrayed folk hero Wong Fei-hung.

Li's first role in a Hollywood film was as a villain in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), but his first Hollywood film leading role was in Romeo Must Die (2000).

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David Carradine

1936 - 2009

David Carradine (born John Arthur Carradine; December 8, 1936 – June 3, 2009) was an American actor and martial artist, best known for his role as a warrior monk, Kwai Chang Caine, in the 1970s television series Kung Fu. He was a member of a productive acting family that began with his father, John Carradine. His acting career, which included major and minor roles on stage, television and cinema, spanned over four decades. A prolific "B" movie actor, he appeared in more than 100 feature films and was nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award. The last nomination was for his title role in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.
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Sammo Hung

1952 -

Sammo Hung Kam-bo (born 7 January 1952) best known as Sammo Hung, is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film producer and director, known for his work in many martial arts films and Hong Kong action cinema. He has been a fight choreographer for, amongst others, Jackie Chan, King Hu, and John Woo.
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Cynthia Rothrock

1957 -

Cynthia Rothrock (born March 8, 1957) is an American martial artist and actress specializing in martial arts films.
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Michelle Yeoh

1963 -

Datuk Seri Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng (born 6 August 1963), is a Hong Kong based Malaysian actress, best known for performing her own stunts in the Hong Kong action films that brought her to fame in the early 1990s. Born in Ipoh, Malaysia, she is based in Hong Kong and was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1997.