What are the best martial arts movies to see with your kids? A good movie will keep your children entertained as well as teach them valuable lessons about life. A child’s interest in martial arts may build as they try to be like the characters in the movie. Good role models in a movie can influence a child in a positive way. And hey, why should you not be entertained as well? A well-made movie should be enjoyable for people of all ages. Here are some that fit the bill. All are available on DVD.
The Karate Kid (1984)
This classic spawned a generation of karate kids, and a catchy phrase: “Wax on, wax off”. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel, the new kid in town, who is targeted by bullies taught by a sensei with a bad attitude. The maintenance man in Daniel’s building, Mr. Miyagi, comes to the rescue and Daniel learns more about life than just martial arts.
Recommended for: Kids aged 12 and above.
Karate kid part 2 (1986) , part 3 (1989) and The Next Karate Kid (1994) followed the original, but were considered just average by critics and movie fans alike.
The Karate Kid (2010)
12-year-old Dre Parker was a happy kid in Detroit, but his mother’s career move landed him in China. Dre falls for his classmate Mei Ying, but cultural differences make such a friendship very difficult. The class bully, Cheng, becomes jealous and trouble starts. Cheng starts a fight with Dre and puts him down easily. The bullying continues as Cheng and his gang of Kung Fu-trained friends target Dre. With no friends of his own to turn to, Dre luckily gains the help of his building’s maintenance man, Mr. Han, who is secretly a master of kung fu. Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punching and kicking, but maturity and peace. With Han’s help Dre learns to face his fears (the bullies).
This movie was considered much better than the other Karate Kid movies, with the exception of the original. I have written three articles about this movie How to Watch the Karate Kid 2010 Movie with Your Kids, 10+ Lessons Learned from the Karate Kid Movie, and Ten More Lessons Learned from the Karate Kid Movie. As you can see from my articles, there are many lessons for kids to learn from this movie.
Recommended for: Kids aged 9 and up
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)
The first in a series and by far the best. In this, four turtles and a rat are transformed into giant, human-like characters when they come in contact a mysterious gel, Ooze, in a sewer. The wise rat becomes their mentor, and teaches them to become lethal Ninja fighters. The turtles use their martial arts skills to combat the crime in New York City. But when their mentor is captured by an enemy from the past, can they hold true to what they’ve learned, and stay together as a brotherhood?
Filled with brawls, one liners, and goofiness, this film recaptures the original comic on which this is based, to perfection. The film is very entertaining for kids, bringing a cartoon into real life. The follow-ups to this movie were not considered very good.
There is some swearing in this movie and some bloody fights. For this reason it is recommended for kids aged 12 and up.
Kung Fu Panda. (2008)
Po the Panda is the fattest, laziest, clumsiest animal in all of the Valley of Peace, but becomes an unlikely hero when it is discovered he alone has the power to stop his tribe from certain destruction at the hands of the snow leopard, Tai Lung. His dreams of becoming a master of the martial arts are realised when the Furious Five legends Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper, Monkey, and their sensei, Master Shifu, reluctantly draw on their vast knowledge of fighting skills to build him into a lethal fighting machine. Will he fulfil his destiny as a hero who will save his people during their darkest hour?
This movie was rated very highly due to its mix of humour, great martial arts action, and colourful animation. Adults also found it very entertaining.
Recommended for: Kids 6 years and above.
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2006)
It this story, a popular American teenager named Wendy Wu discovers that in order to win the coveted crown of homecoming queen, she must first learn the way of the warrior. When a mysterious Chinese monk named Shen arrives to mold Wendy into a fearless kung fu warrior, however, her royal aspirations suddenly take a back seat as she struggles to juggle her boyfriend, her homework, and the fierce competition to become homecoming queen. As Wendy trains her mind, body, and spirit in the martial arts, her inner warrior begins to emerge, and the girl who once obsessed over popularity gradually realises what really matters in life.
This movie had mixed reviews but I like it because it teaches valuable lessons, and is an inspiration for little girls in the martial arts.
Recommended for: Kids 8 years and above.
Shaolin Soccer (2004)
A soccer player, whose career was abruptly ended when he was unfairly injured by his nemesis during a match, meets a Shaolin kung fu student trying to spread the word of kung fu. The ex-soccer player helps reconcile with his five brothers, and teaches them soccer, adding Shaolin kung fu as a twist. They then attempt to win $1 million at a soccer tournament, ultimately facing the dreaded Team Evil in a battle for the the title.
Although the plot is utterly ridiculous, this movie was very popular among moviegoers and critics. Its goofy fun, heaps of action, top special effects, and the appeal of the underdog were reasons for its popularity.
Recommended for: Kids 8 years and above.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Set against the breathtaking landscapes of China during the Ching Dynasty, this story involves two women, both amazing martial artists, whose fates bring them together in an astonishing showdown. A magical sword given by a warrior (Chow) to his lover (Yeoh) is stolen and the quest to find it ensues.
Rated very highly by critics and the public, the story is compelling, the scenery is gorgeous, and the direction is fantastic. The acting is brilliant and the fight choreography is top-notch.
Recommended for: Kids 12 years and above.
Do you know of any good martial arts movies for kids?