There are many television programs, and in the golden age of streaming, the selection has never been so wide. So how do you get rid of the noise and find the best on a chosen topic? We’re here to help celebrate and highlight some of the last, biggest and most memorable performances of all time.
In line with our series on the best sports programs, this time we focus our attention on the fight against sports. From the long-running anime that mixed the supernatural with conventional combat to the explosive Tongue War of 1870, we’ve looked into the subject to bring you the best martial arts television shows of all time.
Of course, if we missed some of your favorites, feel free to send us your comments below and we will add them to the list!
Warrior combines well-organized battles, political intrigue, and the explosive environment of San Francisco in the 1870s.
While the Hop Wei and Long Zia gangs are on the brink of war, Ah Sahm arrives on the coast of San Francisco determined to find his sister Mai Ling. Unknown to her, she made contact with Long Zia, while Ah Sahm herself is recruited by Hop Wei.
It’s an action-packed journey worth watching, and with Season 2 ending most of the big stories, there’s a lot to love.
You can read our thoughts on Warrior in our full season reviews here!
By combining elements from Warrior, Iron Fist and Pure Martial Arts, Wu Assassins is a high-octane film series that relies heavily on the impressive action scenes to connect everything together.
The story here revolves around Kai Jin, a warrior authorized to hunt down the power of the ancient trinity.
Although it doesn’t have as much charm as other series of its kind, there is an approach to Wu Assassins that makes it very easy to get into and out of the series.
You can read our thoughts on Wu Assassins in our full season reviews here!
Lego Ninjago: Spinjitsu Master
It would be very easy to make Ninjago look like an ordinary children’s show. Yet the arches of the season’s story are actually quite convincing, and the emphasis on action goes well with a style of burlesque comedy that keeps things pretty light.
The real story revolves around a group of ninja who unite to save Ninjago from a certain curse. But the themes camaraderie, loyalty and friendship come together nicely to make a beautiful series.
Drakenbal / Drakenbal Z
In its simplest form, Dragon Ball and its much more successful sequel Dragon Ball Z play as animated soap operas, with great battles, lively animation and memorable characters. Its noisy, often intense and unique combination of wrestling and good speed makes it very easy to recommend.
The series itself consists of many sagas, each subdivided into a large pattern to fight. Frieza, Kell and Magin Boo are among the favourites here, but there is a lot of arguing and drama around these big conflicts.
If you’re in the mood for a high octane fight, it’s worth watching.
You can read our thoughts on Dragon Ball Z in our full season review here!
The legend of Bruce Lee
The term legend is often used, but when it comes to Bruce Lee, it is never enough to describe Lee’s impact on the world of martial arts. The significant impact this man has had in his short life is indeed profound.
The Legend of Bruce Lee is a relatively simple biographical series that describes Bruce Lee’s life from Hong Kong to America and until his tragic death at the age of 32.
Real martial arts fans will love it, and anyone who wants to know who Bruce Lee is and why he’s so famous should definitely take the plunge.
An exceptional man
The idea of a hero capable of defeating any enemy with a single blow may seem strange, but the way this 12-episode anime implements its concept is simply brilliant. There is a second season, but the original is superior in almost every way.
Armed with a sharp mind, a brilliant voice and beautiful artistry, One Punch Man combines supernatural action and comedy to create one of the best anime ever.
Read our thoughts on One Punch Man in our full season description here!
The Kung-Fu, founded in 1972, is a series… Well, uh… Kung fu. In particular, he follows the adventures of a Shaolin monk named Kwai Chang Kane who, armed with his skills as a murderous fighter, wanders through the American West.
Whether you’re a fan of westerns and martial arts or not, Kung Fu is a series that combines great life lessons with a strong dose of drama.
With just over 10 minutes per episode, Warigami is a simple but entertaining action comedy series. The basic idea is that warriors can manipulate the density of paper and turn it into a deadly weapon.
The first season ends on a cliffhanger, and the second, still unknown, Varigami alone is worth a look for the terrain and the action. But don’t get too used to it in case it’s cancelled!
Mortal combat: Predecessor
Compared to the movie of the same name, Mortal Kombat: Legacy continues the legacy of the game series by creating a truly immersive web series full of action and close combat.
The first season serves as a prequel to the original games and really supports the feeling and tone that Mortal Kombat brings so well to the series.
in the wasteland
AMC Into the Badlands is a great series. On the surface, the series is about a powerful warrior and a boy seeking education in an enemy country controlled by barons. However, it is sinking deeper into the bad country.
The story unfolds in an exciting and captivating way, with many beautiful landscapes showing the different seasons. There is also an element of supernaturally charged science fiction here, but you never feel bad. Instead, the series gently leans on it to deliver an authentic and action-packed kung fu piece.
It’s worth taking a look in the Badlands.
Cobra Kai skillfully changes perspective and offers a whole new story to start with. A wonderfully exciting series that perfectly revives and breathes new life into a dying franchise.
The show begins thirty years after the All Valley Karate Tournament of 1984. Johnny Lawrence, a former student of the Cobra Kai, is haunted by the ghosts of his past. While Daniel LaRusso enjoys the good life, with a trophy wife and a well-paid job, Johnny enjoys a cheap beer cocktail and a humiliating job while wearing a serious chip on his shoulder.
Under his care a boy named Diaz, who teaches him karate and reopens the Cobra Kai dojo, his rivalry with Daniel LaRusso is resumed after a ten-year hiatus.
With four seasons and lots of karate action, Cobra Kai is a comeback worthy of the saga of Karate Kid and unlikely to stop soon.
You can read our thoughts on the Cobra Kai in our full season description here!
It is not for nothing that the Power Rangers have had such a cultural and sustainable impact. From the original (and, let’s face it, best) version of Mighty Morphin to Ninja, Space, Zeo and beyond, Power Rangers is without a doubt an icon and one of the best martial arts shows for kids.
From big skirmishes with different rangers to more intimate one-on-one battles, the choice is great. With episodes of 25 minutes each, the choreography of this series is still topical and a solid choice for lovers of martial arts.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
Speaking of cultural icons: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is another excellent choice for anyone looking for an animated martial arts film. The story revolves around a quartet of humanoid war turtles taught by their spiritual master and wise Splinter… who happens to be a rat.
The heroic deeds of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael, all pizza lovers, have given rise to numerous revivals, sequels and live films that only show how popular these turtles are. However, it is the 1987 anime series that distinguishes itself from all the others.
And speaking of ninjas and supernatural jokers, that brings us to Samurai Jack. The principle of this anime series is simple: a Japanese samurai from the past has been sent on a desperate journey through time to fight a werewolf wizard named Aku.
Trapped in a new timeline and desperate to put right the wrongs caused by Aku, Jack returns home to save the world from a certain fate.
This is typically animated food, with many episodic shenanigans interspersed with a longer plot that develops over time. With beautiful illustrations and a coherent story that creates excitement over time, Samurai Jack should definitely be on your radar.
Scissors Seven is a surprisingly good animation that combines beautiful images with a simple but effective plot over two seasons full of action. Full of the best aspects of anime, this Mandarin-language series combines comedy and action at its best, even if the structure is a bit unconventional towards the end.
The story revolves around a man named Seven and his sidekick Dai Bo, a blue chicken wearing sunglasses. At first, Seven opens a hair salon to cover his professional activity as a killer, before a series of episodes brings continuity to the series that links things to a specific structure.
Funny and action-packed, Scissors Seven is a lot of fun.
Read our thoughts on The Seventh Scissors in our full season reviews here!
Serves as a prelude to the cartoon Tong, Tong, very popular on the web: Memories are an exciting and fun immersion into the world of martial arts. The story revolves around Lee Jung Woo, a child who has always suffered from a lack of character. He’s certainly not someone to mess with!
He grows up in Busan, learns to defend himself against his tyrants and eventually becomes the best street fighter in town. His best friend Kwon Doo Hyun lives in his shadow, and through 12 short entertaining episodes their relationship grows and becomes something truly memorable.
It is a simple and surprisingly underestimated series, but easily recommended for short runs.
The Netflix anime is used to be either very good or bad. Fortunately, Kengan Ashura’s glued fists have hit the nail on the head in this action-packed, testosterone-filled dive into the world of cartoon battles.
There are many skirmishes during both seasons, and the main story is interesting enough for you to watch the quieter moments. Here the show revolves around a shy old man appointed by his president to be the manager of Tokita Ohma, a highly skilled gladiator who only cares about fighting and winning kennel matches.
As the season progresses, the relationship between the fighter and the manager develops nicely, but it’s the fight that keeps you going until the end.
Seis Manos is an interesting animation project. With only 8 episodes, this 2019 animation goes largely unnoticed, but it certainly has a lot of charm in its duration.
The story here, in the late seventies, revolves around a group of orphans raised by a martial arts master, desperate for revenge and punishment after a brutal murder has snatched them all away. While the children go hunting, they are immersed in a mystery in which demonic powers, drug cartels, ancient rituals and blood sacrifices play a role. This animation for adults is really worth watching!
Kung Fu Panda: The legs of the lot
In 2008, Dreamworks’ incredible animated hit Kung Fu Panda was released in theatres and was immediately applauded by critics and audiences around the world. 10 years after a series of sequels and television adaptations of varying quality, the original Amazonian Kung Fu Panda: Paws of Destiny is another television project aimed at a new generation of children and adults.
The Paws of Fate is an entertaining animated series with a mix of old and new characters and an exciting plot. Although the series is delayed from time to time and some plot points drag on, Paws Of Destiny is one of the best adaptations of the kung fu panda that children absolutely must love.
You can read our reflections on Kung Fu Panda: Paws of Destiny in our full season reviews here!
Avatar: Last Air Master
You’re probably scrolling through this list, wondering where the damn Avatar is: The last airbender. Well, he should definitely be added to that list, and for good reason. Avatar is a fantastic animated film that is a must for both children and adults.
The series itself revolves around a world divided into four basic countries: Tribes of the northern and southern waters, kingdom of the earth, nation of fire and nomads of the air. Avatar keeps the balance between the countries, and everything seems to go well until the beginning of the first episode. That is, until the balance of power changes.
When the Fire Nation invaded us and the Avatar disappeared, we went back 100 years to find Katara and Sokka and discover a new Avatar, an air wizard named Aang. The result is an unforgettable game that brings out the best in animated stories.
Hong Kong Fu
Another of this nostalgic old anime, Hong Kong Phooey is a relatively short and somewhat forgetful cartoon. With series like Johnny Bravo, Dexter Labs, Powerpuff Girls and The Flintstones, you can imagine how hard it was to distinguish this series.
The heroics here revolve around a kung-fu fighting puppy named Hong Kong Phooey who travels around town to stop the bad guys and the most despicable crimes. Since each episode is divided into two different stories, history repeats itself a little over time, but it is certainly a great boost to the nostalgia of those who remember it.
The legend of Korra
The film takes place 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra is a decent sequel, but it will always be difficult to match the brilliance of its predecessor. The Legend of Korra offers a similar worldview, with Avatar Korra struggling to protect Republic City from the evil forces of the physical and spiritual world.
Unlike Avatar, however, The Legend of Korra skillfully changes the subject to become a more modern commentary on our changing world. Most of the conflicts in that country revolve around technological progress and increasing crime.
If you’re a fan of Avatar, I’m sure you’ll be attracted to this game, and this sequel doesn’t stop there.
Fight For My Way is a drama about the struggle for dreams and the quest for excellence, a theme that many of the series on this list have in common. He also captures this battle perfectly through his two main characters, Ko Dong Man and Choi Ae-Ra.
Dong-Man dreams of becoming UFC champion and Ae-Ra wants to become a commentator. She gave up her dream and now works in a department store.
There is a great life lesson on how to follow your dreams, as well as some funny moments, making it an inspiring and well-written Korean drama worth watching.
Naruto Uzumaki, a naughty teenage ninja, fights for recognition as he dreams of becoming the Hokage, the village chief and the strongest ninja. The principle is simple and is based on what makes series like Dragon Ball Z so attractive, with a series of well executed, beautifully drawn battles full of intense segments.
Unlike Dragon Ball Z, Naruto never worries about the epic moments of It’s Over 9000! and instead builds each battle in a targeted way to evolve the character. In fact, everyone here succeeds in creating a fascinating and memorable arc of history that makes every season of Naruto such a pleasure to watch.
With almost 150 episodes and numerous follow-up documents, this is one of the oldest options your time really deserves.
So here it is, our selection for the best martial arts TV show in years!
What do you think of our selection? Don’t you agree? Are there any conspicuous omissions? Let us know in the comments below!
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