10 Martial Arts Actors Who Deserve More Recognition

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Call me crazy, but I find nothing more exhilarating than watching a character who is really quite unlikeable copping a highly stylized fly kick to the face. Yes, I am a martial arts fanatic and I believe that there is an inherent and palpable satisfaction associated with witnessing a hand to hand exchange and flying feet delivered with precise technique.

The Kung Fu Revolution began around the early 70s, long before I was born, and the genre has certainly developed and evolved greatly over the course of the last four decades. Following the release of the unparalleled Bruce Lee classic Enter The Dragon in 1973, a legion of kung fu flicks soon after flooded the market to keep up with the new craze that had swept over the movie going public. The likes of veteran superstars with incredible talent such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cynthia Rothrock, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren and so many more have won success and acclaim due to their flabbergasting physical abilities.

Then there are the “newbies” who are rising in the ranks as talent to watch out for. Those such as Tony Jaa, who re-defined martial arts cinema with 2003’s Ong Bak and now finally getting his big Hollywood break with Fast & Furious 7, and Iko Uwais, who wowed everyone with his brutal physical performance in 2011’s sleeper hit The Raid: Redemption, are being entrusted with the prestigious honor of carrying the torch from the veterans.

To celebrate the recent release of Jackie Chan’s reportedly final big action spectacular CZ12 (aka Chinese Zodiac), let’s take a look at who believe are still the unsung heroes of the genre, those who have done amazing work but still just haven’t cracked that nutshell of worldwide recognition.

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10. Wu Jing

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If there’s anyone in the martial arts movie world that is truly enigmatic, it would have to be Wu Jing. He first kicked onto the scene in Yuen Wo Ping’s Tai Chi Boxer (aka Tai Chi 2) but didn’t really make an impression until he clashed with Donnie Yen in 2005’s SPL (aka Kill Zone).

His style very much resembles that of Jet Li (as they’re both Wu Shu champions) and his talent is unquestionable. So why is he enigmatic? Because he has been in some very decent films but still for some reason has not been able to rise very high on the Hollywood ladder. He is frequently cast in supporting roles and has headlined only a handful of films (including his co-directed effort Legendary Assassin), but these efforts thus far haven’t launched him as a bonafide star.

If anyone has seen him in action, his skill is nothing short of incredible. He is fast, agile, powerful, and his timing is impeccable, just watch his infamous alleyway fight against Donnie Yen in SPL and you’ll know exactly what I mean. He delivers strong and capable performances in each of his films and he should most definitely be more widely recognized than he is.

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9. Marko Zaror

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This Chilean born martial artist/stuntman is still in the early stages of cutting his teeth in the action movie world. So why is he on this list? Because his villainous performance as Raul “Dolor” Quinones in Isaac Florentine’s seminal sequel and highly acclaimed DTV film Undisputed 3: Redemption should’ve launched him right there and then.

Undisputed 3 was released in 2010, so that’s 3 years that have now elapsed, and the Chilean Dragon (as he is dubbed) has been completely off the radar until now. He starred in and served as fight choreographer for a number of low budget Spanish films including Kiltro (2006), Mirageman (2007) and Mandrill (2009), which all allowed him to showcase his immaculate Kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do and acrobatic abilities. He can move his hands and feet as fast as lightning, and while he isn’t overly bulked up, he has an unmistakable presence and can match up to the best of them.

Zaror can now be seen in theaters now opposite Danny Trejo in the star-studded Machete Kills, so who knows what doors that will open up for him.

Come on Hollywood, give this guy the breakthrough movie that he so greatly deserves!

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8. Lateef Crowder Dos Santos

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One of the pleasures of watching a martial arts movie is gawking in an awe-inspired manner at the intricate choreography and acrobatics that are transpiring before your very eyes. One martial arts style that is particularly beautiful to look at is the Brazilian style of Capoeira, a half dance/half self defense system that is incredibly graceful and complex, and no one has delivered this style on the screen so convincingly and effectively as Lateef Crowder Dos Santos, one of the few human beings out there who could actually win a fight while standing on one hand.

Lateef started out as a member of the ZeroGravity Stunt Team before breaking out with his first feature appearance opposite Tony Jaa in 2005’s Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector). His fight scene against Jaa is considered to be one of the highlights of the film, and he has since appeared in many low budget martial arts centered flicks such as the MMA ensemble Never Surrender (2009), the film adaptation of Tekken (2010), and opposite Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror in Undisputed 3: Redemption.

When you watch him in action, it is very hard to believe he performs his moves without any wires or stunt doubles. Santos truly looks like he is obliterating the laws of physics and defying gravity.

He doesn’t appear all that much in front of the camera but he has performed stunts for major films like The Book Of Eli, The Expendables, Sucker Punch and the upcoming sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire. He seriously needs his own movie though, and a big one too, because a man of his talent is just too unique to allow to go to waste. Not that it is going to waste doing what he’s doing, I just think he deserves something far bigger that thrusts him onto center stage.

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7. Gary Daniels

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This action export from the UK started out on the scene in the late 80s, so he could really be classed as a veteran, but he has yet to have his ‘big break.’ Gary had a professional fighting career both locally and internationally before he made the jump into acting and over the years, he’s had a long string of appearances in low budget DTV films and made enough of an impact to become a fan favourite.

With decent acting chops, an arsenal of awesome techniques, and facing off against other martial arts favourites such as Jackie Chan, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Darren Shahlavi, he was set to become martial arts cinema’s next big thing. Somehow, he never really catapulted far past the DTV market until most recently, when he landed a supporting role in Sylvester Stallone’s action ensemble The Expendables, where he had the opportunity to be double-teamed by Jet Li and Jason Statham. He also starred opposite Wesley Snipes that same year in Game Of Death (no relation to Bruce Lee’s unfinished classic), and although that was also a DTV film, he proved to be a very effective villain and had a surprisingly decent showdown with Snipes.

I’ve been watching Gary for years now, and while he has just turned 50, he evidently still has what it takes to bring it and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. All he needs is a decent-budgeted film to be able to show everyone what he’s really made of.

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6. Joey Ansah

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One could argue that Joey Ansah got his big break with his role as the assassin Desh who is tasked with taking down Jason Bourne in 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, and while this was a great performance, I still don’t count it as such because it wasn’t his movie.

This martial arts prodigy, who also hails from the UK, is a man of many talents. Not only has he landed some nifty roles in small but well received DTV films, he also flexes his skills in the fight choreography and directing fields. He is well versed in the styles of Tae Kwon Do, Capoeira and Ninjustu, and performs all of his own stunts. Jump on YouTube and seek out the Street Fighter: Legacy short film and you’ll see just how adept Joey Ansah is at his craft.

He can now be seen in a supporting role opposite Scott Adkins in Green Street Hooligans 3: Never Back Down, and also serves as fight choreographer for the film. Hopefully this will be the springboard needed to launch him into the limelight.

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5. Jon Foo

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Our number five contender has worked with the best of the best of action cinema. He made his debut in the Jackie Chan-produced action comedy House Of Fury under the martial arts direction of the legendary Yuen Wo Ping, and also made a brief appearance in Universal Soldier: Regeneration. His martial arts talent has won over fans worldwide and while he headlined the adaptation of the popular video game Tekken, it wasn’t that well received critically or financially.

Tekken should’ve been Jon Foo’s big break, but bringing a successful interpretation of a video game into film (especially these days) is notoriously difficult to do. He did star as Ryu in Joey Ansah’s Street Fighter: Legacy short and the recent Bangkok Revenge, so he is certainly not short of work, nor is he aligning himself with substandard projects which will possibly hinder his advancement in the action world. We all have to start somewhere small to then get somewhere big, Jon Foo just should’ve made it there long ago.

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4. Cyril Raffaelli

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Many of the contenders on this list are multitalented, and Cyril Raffaelli is no different as he serves as actor, stunt coordinator, fight choreographer and parkour specialist. He is probably best known to audiences internationally as the smaller-half of the deadly twins who face off against Jet Li in Kiss Of The Dragon and as the smooth moving parkour-utilizing police officer in the adrenaline pumping hit District B13 and its sequel.

Seriously, this guy is astounding. He is trained in Wu Shu and Shotokan Karate, and can do the craziest acrobatics this side of a circus troupe. His use of parkour brings a definitive quality to the projects he’s involved in and while he has had a big break of sorts with his District B13 films, and also appearing opposite Bruce Willis in Live Free Or Die Hard, he deserves to be in much bigger projects. He is incredibly charismatic, and if District B13 is anything to go by, he has a lot more to offer than what we’ve seen.

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3. Michael Jai White

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When anyone mentions Michael Jai White to me, I always think to myself, “how is it that it took so long for this guy to be discovered?” Now, some may argue with me that MJW is certainly popular enough and is already widely recognized, I still think he deserves far greater praise and many more higher profile projects.

On this list, he holds up well in terms of experience as he is trained in various martial arts styles such as Shotokan Karate, Wu Shu, Tae Kwon Do, and Tang Soo Do, as well as a few others. He has performed stunt work for many films and finally made it on the map in 1997’s misdirected Spawn. He had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the original Universal Soldier and would then go on to play the main antagonist in its sequel, Universal Soldier: The Return. Another appearance in the Joel Silver-produced ‘comeback’ film for Steven Seagal, Exit Wounds further elevated his action status, but he still just wasn’t where he deserved to be.

Only lately has he started to rise up as a bonafide action star, with impressive work against Scott Adkins in Isaac Florentine’s Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing and the surprisingly enjoyable good Blood And Bone, where he had the opportunity to flex his acting muscles as well as some crushing MMA moves.

With his directorial debut Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, landing the role of Major Jackson ‘Jax’ Briggs on the highly successful mini web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and a great performance in the hilarious blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite, time will only tell where this amazingly charismatic and highly skilled actor/martial artist will go.

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2. Mark Dacascos

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This guy needs no introduction as he is known as a legend throughout martial arts circles. He helped usher in the martial arts craze of the 90s and stood alongside the greats of this era with a body of work that is considered to be stellar. He twirled, flipped, somersaulted, kicked and lightning punched his way through many villains and attached a wonderful acting performance each and every time.

Hawaiian born Mark Dacascos always wowed me when I was younger, he has talent that many could only wish for. He headlined a string of genre favourites including the Capoeira centered Only The Strong, the manga-adapted Crying Freeman, and the high impact action packed/buddy film Drive, which is considered by many fans and critics alike to be his absolute best.

Unfortunately, very few of his films have been recognized on a large scale and he unfairly hasn’t enjoyed the level of status that many of his peers have attained. He plats both villains and heroes, which avoids him from being typecast, and he appears to really give 100% in everything he undertakes. He even took on the role that Brandon Lee immortalized in The Crow, as he played ill-fated rockstar Eric Draven in the short-lived TV series The Crow: Stairway To Heaven. While the series was canned after only one season, Mark Dacascos brought gravitas and did justice to a role that by all rights could’ve been criticized greatly just for simply not being left alone after Brandon Lee’s passing.

In the new millennium, Dacascos has appeared in some high profile projects, including the acclaimed French period piece/action horror film Brotherhood Of The Wolf, taking on Jet Li in Cradle 2 The Grave, and regularly appearing as The Chairman on Iron Chef America. He also has a villainous recurring role on the action series Hawaii Five-O and has resurged in the martial arts world with landing the role of Shaolin monk Kung Lao in the second season of the hugely successful web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy. While he is popular worldwide, I still think Mark Dacascos should’ve been catapulted into the greatest action star category long ago.

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1. Scott Adkins

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Ask anyone who they think is worthy of carrying the torch of martial arts films from the old school guys who are starting to slow down, and the answer will be time and time again our number one contender, Scott Adkins. This man is a true marvel, he has very strong acting abilities along with the ability to perform any acrobatic and martial arts move in existence.

His first appearance in a full length feature was in the little known Chinese-produced Extreme Challenge, followed shortly after by an appearance in Jackie Chan’s The Accidental Spy. He had a substantially meatier role in Tsui Hark’s ill-received sequel Black Mask 2: City Of Masks and while the movie may have not been all it could be, his performance was certainly the one that stood out, and he got to mix it up with rising martial arts star Andy On under Yuen Wo-Ping’s masterful fight direction.

Showing off his incredible Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing skills in each film, Scott then hooked up with fan-favourite action director Isaac Florentine for the low-budgeted Special Forces and he hasn’t looked back since. He would go on to collaborate again with Florentine many times over and leave his mark on the action world with his signature role as Russian prisoner and self-professed ‘most complete fighter in the world’ Yuri Boyka in the awesome sequels Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing and Undisputed 3: Redemption.

Now, he is well and truly hitting his stride, having appeared in The Expendables 2 alongside, well, everyone, and in the same year he pulled out all stops to take on both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning (which you can watch a clip of below).

With Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear and Green Street Hooligans 3: Never Back Down due for release, Scott Adkins is here, and he is here to stay. Why oh why did it take Hollywood so darn long to take notice?


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I can already think of another half a dozen contenders that didn’t make the list, so lay it on me, who did I miss that you think should’ve made it? Do you agree with the choices? Leave a comment below.

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  • Glen

    Mark Dacascos is a no talent, charmless hack. He shouldn’t even be a background host on a cooking show, never mind ruining action movies.

    • Fatih Uzuner

      no talent? just go watch

      Drive
      (1997) you stupid asshole

      • Fabyen Robinson

        He was awesome in Drive! Go Toby, Go Toby go!!

      • Steve Croft

        Also his role in Brotherhood of the Wolf was quite spectacular.

    • NeoConSmasher

      Did he break your heart in high school?

    • Bopnrumble

      Congratulations. You won the “Internet Numbskull Of The Day”-Award.

    • Zdenek

      Stupid.. He is one of the very few true martial artist in showbiz. I would rank him on the same level with Donnie Yen..

      • DooK_Fresh

        Totally agree. If there’s one American/non-Hong Kong martial artist-turned-actor who is ranks up there with Donnie Yen and Jet Li in terms of sheer performance skills and onscreen charisma, it’s Mark Dacascos. I’ve long been waiting for a Yen/Dacascos match-up as I think the latter would absolutely look fantastic under Yen’s action direction!

  • Ryan Deadpooln

    I wish Michael Jai White got more work. He is fantastic. Especially in Black Dynamite which was really cool and absolutely hilarious. And he was just in last weeks episode of Arrow which was pretty good. He would make an awesome Blade

    • Matt Schembari

      For sure, Michael Jai White I think would be awesome as a villain in Blade even. I always imagined him and Wesley Snipes going up against each other, that would be epic!! I’ll have to check out his appearance in Arrow, thanks for reminding me

      • Jaysoon

        That’d be really cool since they’re both protagonists in their respective Undisputed movies.

  • Vincenzo Frascati

    I want MJW in Black Panter Marvel if it will produced.

    • EmmanuelKShannon

      He’s the only logical choice

  • Fabyen Robinson

    I can’t think of his name, but he played Johnny Cage in the first season of MK: Legacy!! Seriously needs more screen time. He also was in the final fight scene with MJW’s Blood and Bone. Talented martial artist and can act.

    • Matt Schembari

      You’re thinking of Matt Mullins, and yes he is quite an amazing talent

      • Fabyen Robinson

        Thanks!!

  • Qinlong

    Great feature, some of these martial artists indeed deserve a lot better than what they’re offeredn and a lot more notoriety.
    I would add Collin Chou and Andy On to that list.

    • Matt Schembari

      Thank you, and I definitely agree with you about Collin Chou and Andy On. The great thing about Andy On is that he isn’t even a traditionally trained martial artist, he only learned how to fight on screen, but he’s damn good at it!

  • Zak

    Really? No women at all?

    • Matt Schembari

      I know, I honestly couldn’t think of too many, aside from maybe Gina Carano and maybe Kelly Hu. I always think of more to add once the list is finished, ironic really

      • Rebekah Dirnfeld

        Cynthia Rothrock? Michelle Yeoh? Zhang Ziyi?

    • will

      the biggest problem with female martial artisits is that it doesn’t seem real cuz usually it isn’t. you put a 60 kg person up against a 100kg person and the outcome is pretty obvious. the kicks and punches will bounce and as far a close quarters go, they generally wont stand a chance. it takes a very special king of person to pull it off. a classic example is jet li vs dolph lundgren in expendables. they tried to keep the fight real and it was only because jet li had the speed and training that he was able to survive.

  • Anuj Kehar

    you forgot billy blanks!!!! or Jeff speakman!!! Iko Uwais (yes the guy from the raid has a name).

    • Matt Schembari

      Billy Blanks and Jeff Speakman were awesome back in the day, I really do need two lists (maybe three) to get more in. And I did mention Iko Uwais in the intro

  • chris v

    how bout phillip rhee he was so bad ass in thoses best of the best films then gone of the face of the world but now comig back with a movie called underdogs oh one one other actor that needs to be known jeff speakman he is beyond fantasic street knight , the expert, the perfect weapon these two guys need to be looked at and need to come back

    • Matt Schembari

      Phillip Rhee!!!! Now he would definitely be number one if I had a second list, he was the king!! And he’s got a new movie coming out soon too

  • Guest

    WHAT ABOUT JIM KELLY?

    • Guest

      OR SONNY CHIBA?

      • Matt Schembari

        Ah Hattori Hanzo!!! He still is awesome, even at 75 years old

    • Matt Schembari

      Jim was too cool wasn’t he, he definitely deserved a place on this list. May he rest in peace

  • Anuj Kehar

    my top ten (not in order)
    1. scott adkins 6. sonny chiba
    2. michael jai white 7. jim kelly
    3. iko uwais 8. bolo yeung
    4.billy blanks 9. dan chupong
    5.jeff speakman 10. jija yanin

    • Matt Schembari

      That’s a great list, some awesome contenders there. I miss seeing Jeff Speakman and Bolo Yeung, ah the good old days

      • Anuj Kehar

        thanks brother. ah me too I miss the good old days, just watched shootfighter: fight to the death and man was it awesome!

  • Zod

    Jeff Speakman was on fire after “Perfect Weapon.” I heard the bumped heads with one of the studio moguls. It was obvious in his next movie that all his projects were defunded to low production value. Not sure of the accuracy of the story but something was amiss.

    • Matt Schembari

      I had no idea about that, The Perfect Weapon was always a favourite of mine. He was diagnosed with throat cancer earlier this year but it’s now in remission after treatment so that’s fantastic news, I hope he makes another movie at some point

      • Zod

        I hope Jeff the best. He is true student of the art and a gift to all his students and fans. I believe Jeff walks to his own drumbeat in regards to Hollywood. I love his style and presence on the screen.
        “No knife, No gun, No Equal.” “The Perfect Weapon.” Godspeed Jeff Speakman.

  • Matt Schembari

    Thank you all for your awesome feedback and thoughts, it’s criminal some of the talents that I have failed to mention, I’d need another list to fit them all

  • Jas

    Anthony De Longis, Anthony De Longis and Anthony De Longis. There’s a whole section in the special Kevin Smith audio track to the “Roadhouse” DVD re-release about what a badass A De L is, and all the work he’s done. (BTW, in “Roadhouse”, he was the guy with the knife in his boot. Yeah – that guy.)

  • flavor

    Jeeja Yanin. I was shocked to find out she is 29. For those wondering, she did the 2008 Thai action film Chocolate. It was awesome. Collin Chou is definitely one of my favorites. Seeing him fight Donnie Yen at the end of Flashpoint wasorgasmic to say the least.

  • Spenzer

    Sorry… but where is Ray Park ?

    • Marcel Moreau

      Ray Park is high profile enough that he doesn’t belong on a list of people deserving recognition. Known far and wide for his talent, portraying some of best screen fights and characters in last 10-13 years since he burst into the scene and became known as the man behind Darth Maul.

    • Andhaira

      Oh fuck yes. Ray Park needs to return in the role he was born for: Darth Maul on the big screen in ‘The’ Sequels.

      Hopefully Scott Adkins can play a new Jedi Master and take on Parks Maulster.

  • Eduardo Garcia

    Scott is definitely the one to pump the new millennium, and along with Michael white I remembered in the 80s and 90s when Mr. White and myself we use to compete in the Martial arts circuit we always finished first or second it was just funny everyone knew we on fire, but I will say something he never forgot where he came from as a long friend and rival from different schools I can say he is a great gentleman, I’m happy to be his friend and a collaborator for some of his movies, thank you for posting this my friend there is so much Martial arts actors that really need to be recognized but thats Hollywood for you. Well thanks for the post and keep the good work.

  • carlito

    There are some amazing martial artist who deserve to be better known BUT what separates them is charisma and bona fide acting ability. Is this respect this top 10 is spot on Matt, I would say Cyril Raffaelli and MJW are excellent actors who have crossed over into films that do not showcase their skills – that is testament to them as actors not martial artists

  • Zach Pierson

    Ok, I may be showing my ass here… But what about Bin Won from “The Man from Nowhere”… Is he a big star??? I don’t know, I’ve only seen him in that movie and that last fight/shootout scene with all of the gang’s (or whatever) henchmen and then the knife fight with the #2 badguy is un-fucking-real!!!

    • Chandler Moore

      Dude! The fighting in that movie is insanely good. I’ve watched it four times already.

  • Johnny

    Could be worth mentioning that he was in a small little film called the Dark Knight. Not mentioning this sort of reinforces the whole point of this article..

  • DeVaughn MinisterofMusic Salte

    One of MJW’s first movies (possibly the first action movie he did) was the HBO movie Tyson where he played “Iron Mike”. Awesome actor and martial artist.

    • EmmanuelKShannon

      He was in Tmnt 2 revenge of the ooze as a teen, small role but he was there

    • Lionheart

      He was really good in that movie! He portrayed Mike so good!

  • sean gibbs

    did I miss…..Jason Statham….. on any list.. he was acting ( Lock, Stock and Barrel) long before he demonstrated any martials arts skill and is without a doubt, the best at drawing $$$$ to any film in which he participates. Great timing, competent tongue in cheek acting and charmingly funny to boot.

    • http://twitter.com/steven_oneill76 Steven O’Neill

      Yeah, but the title is
      10 Martial Arts Actors Who Deserve More Recognition
      Statham has quite a bit or recognition :)

    • Carlito

      Statham was an athlete (football and diving), and a model before breaking into films. It was his film roles that got him into martial arts (Wing Chun, Karate, and kickboxing).

      • Marcel Moreau

        Starting with an often overlooked film, ‘THE ONE’ with Jet Li. Originally designed for Dwayne Johnson(the Rock), who backed out and Jet Li took the role. It was Li who introduced and inspired Statham to learn to fight, not just movie fight, but to put in the work to become a true artist in the field.

  • Kaja

    Scott Adkins is definitely the one that will reinvigorate ACTION movies. Because of all CGI-laden stuff Hollywood’s been doing, I often times miss the days where it’s mostly practical action and no VFX.

    • Jaries

      Agreed. The first time I saw Adkins was Universal Soldier:DOR. I grew up in the 90′s so I loooved the first 2 UniSol movies. I thought DOR was the best behind the original, and I had such low hopes when I rented it. That made me look up some of his other movies and wooow this guy is legit. Ninja 1 & 2 are bad@$$ also.

  • http://twitter.com/steven_oneill76 Steven O’Neill

    Cyril Raffaelli is a machine – District 13 and its sequel are so much fun

    • Marcel Moreau

      Cyrill should have shared the spot with his costar who played Leto in D13. One of hte men often credited with creating Parkour as an art form and not just a scourge of public perception.

  • geu

    How about iko uwais from the raid.

  • EmmanuelKShannon

    I demand that you add that Michael Jai White was also in TMNT 2 Revenge of the ooze you must let people know this!

  • Mike Garcia

    Michael Jai White deserves more recognition as martial artist and actor ,you just have to watch “Tyson” to know that…Scott I think he has an amazing skill as martial artist but not charisma enough to be a star, the rest of the guys of the list most of them are good martial artists but they don t have enough charisma to be movie stars..people as bruce lee, jcvd,jackie chan they are not just great martial artists they also have a great charisma

  • Jaysoon

    Where’s Tony Jaa? He deserves a shared #1 with Scott Adkins, and the guy is not even on the list… The shame I feel for the author.

    • Steve Croft

      He’s off freeing an elephant from a zoo…

    • tom

      tony jaa is just a young jackie chan.

  • Mad Pat

    Keith Cooke

  • Romi

    Mark Dacascos is my favorite martial arts actor. I agree–he always gives 100% in his work.

  • RizqiReds

    You forgot Yayan Ruhian a.k.a MAD DOG from The Raid Redemption!

  • The Walking Cuban

    MJW for Luke Cage.

  • superturbo

    Hmm, this list is seriously missing out on mentioning; Ray Park, Collin Chou, Dan Southworth, Luke Goss and Billy Blanks! But well done for adding Jon Foo that guy’s on the rise and deserved to be mentioned in high regards.

    And a fair nod to Michael Jai White as well as one of the best martial artists in the business, he ought to be in more Hollywood blockbuster martial arts themed genre movies, but alas the studios are quite prejudiced and colour blind it seems which is most probably why he hasn’t broken through to the mainstream just yet.

  • Vixen

    He would make an awesome Black Panther. I just wish they make another Spawn movie, he did good.

    • Vixen

      Mr. MJW

  • SD

    Maickael Jai White was in “Dark Knight” ; “remember our little Gambol” ?

  • boyka

    superturbo says luke goss really the guy has no fighting skills i think matts list is dead on i personally dont like the way iko uwais fights its not flashy enough for me but that dont mean i dont think hes a beast alot of you guys are talking about washed up martial artists matts list is the new school and jaa and chou and ruhianan are all popular in the home countrys matt got it right especially having adkins numero uno just what til ninja 2 shadow of a tear comes out that movie alone is getting undisputed 4 made but support adkins go buy the movie matt mullins and darren shahlavi are also great martial artist but the genre is not how it used to be its all staham now and i like the stath but i hate him for being the only guy they turn too for martial art movies when hes not even a real fighter

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    Great List!! I am personally a fan of all these guys esepcially, White, Adkins, Daniels, Foo, Ansah (Cannot wait for SF: Assassin’s Fist), Dacascos, and Rafielli, Zaror. But they are all awesome.
    Ansah has said if Assassin’s Fist does well he wants to get Adkins in as Guile! That would rock.
    White needs more work. HE should’ve been the lead in “Man with the Iron Fists” !!!!

  • Eric

    I agreed with most of your choices, I didn’t see French actor Olivier Gruner, about the same age as Daniels and equally talented, but never made the big leap to a super-star role.

    • phreezerburn

      +1 here. Nemesis is still and epic B movie.

  • bluboy

    Mark Dacascos should have been in the number one spot.

  • joe

    Marrese Crump is about to take over the world

  • Allen Portis

    How can anyone put another above MJW, especially Scott A. M.J.W. has the style and the moves that cannot be duplicated. Only reason one would do this is to once again try try to place some white guy at the the top. Total bullshit. M.J.W. is number one and the only reason he has not been given his respect is his color. Look at weak ass Chuck Norris, that phoney had roles coming out his ass and looked like crap. If M.J.W. WERE WHITE HE’D HAVE TOO MANY ROLES, HE’D HAVE TO TURN THEM DOWN.

    • BlackBelt28

      Chuck Norris is no phoney… but I do agree MJW should be number one on this list, MJW has like 7 black belts

  • bilb ono

    was expecting to see joe taslim from fast 6 here.

  • Marcel Moreau

    Scott Adkins? Seriously? What the h###? He’s barely got the talent to be a Bmovie level action star, let alone the superstar you make him out to be. He’s mediocre and average at best. He’s the 2010+ version of Michael Dudikoff or John Barett from American Dudikoff. With half their talent. Adkins might be able to win a tournament on points, but his screen fihting and acting are terrible.

  • M4C8 .

    I know his movies since the mid-nineties have been terrible but I genuinely believe that Steven Seagal should get more recognition for his martial arts background. There was a time during his late twenties through to his mid thirties where he was, without doubt, one of the most talented and skilled martial artists on the planet and the fight scenes in his earlier movies were closer to what he could actually do than any other action star (Including greats like Jackie Chan who ‘s films I adored when growing up)

  • Gus

    Marko is the real deal… I’ve seen him walking around downtown and all I could say is that besides he’s a real down to earth / humble human being he’s a real martial artist, I dare you to watch Kiltro, his first “all Chilean” (not spanish) movie

  • shelly

    now that’s what I call kickin some ass,and and action at the same time would like to see more of him

  • Iya Eko

    Wu Jing has a SMALL part in The Mummy: Legend of the Emperor Tomb as one of the assassins trying to kill Jet Li

  • Iya Eko

    Where’s Luxia Jiang????? Pretty much one of the most awesome female martial artists there is right now… Please watch King of Triads and Ninja Masters and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  • Gigashrubbz

    Deserve more recognition? Maybe if they could act better…. great martial artists. Absolutely. Their fight scenes are fantastic to watch. Their acting between the fight scenes? Meh.

  • Artist-TGD

    You have Jon Foo from Tekken but another cast member of the same movie the guy who play Marshall Law Cung Le that guy is a beast. He really shines in the sci-fi horror flick Pandorum. I want to see more of that guy.

    • Geeman

      I wish Yoshimitsu had more screen time on that Tekken movie, he was also a bad fother-mucker!

  • Geeman

    Kane Kosugi son of Sho, he and Scott had a mad brawl on ninja 2.

  • Rebekah Dirnfeld

    I would have added at least one or two women into the list — Cynthia Rothrock and Michelle Yeoh.

    • Darren

      They’re both too old at this point and Yeoh’s not a real martial artist. never has been

  • boomboom

    I really enjoyed Erie Reyes jr…thought he would’ve got more work too.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    And though Zaror is Chilean he’d make an AWESOME Sagat!!!

  • alex

    im faser than bruce lee…ive been stayed hidden cause some people want me to stay that way…afraid of ruined the legacy o bruce lee..movie proucers need me..look me up on facebook alexander lunborg in jacksoville florida….

    • BlackBelt28

      Please… I’m faster than you

  • BlackBelt28

    Yeah Wu Jing is ridiculous in Fatal Contact. Amazing fight scenes

  • BlackBelt28

    Why not Jon Foo??? He is awesome

  • John Pisu

    Scott adkins was my choice for Batman in the new Superman movie. but NOOOO Hollywood wanted Batfleck

  • Mark Goodrum

    I really like the Thai fighters out there. My favorite is JeeJa Yanin, and of course Tony Jaa.

  • anonymous5555

    Scott Adkins was also the black ninja in the first G.I. Joe movie.

  • Babaganoosh

    This list became invalid the moment they added Scott Adkins. And at number one. He is so awful it isn’t even a joke.

  • Kamal

    Where is Donne Yen?

    • Darren

      Donnie Yen might be unknown to western audiences but he’s a huge star in Asia, same goes to Tony Jaa. I think this list is about martial artists who don’t get their just due at all, worldwide

  • Darren

    Very good list, the top 3 is spot on, although I’d place Michael Jai White at #1 hands down. Adkins is a fantastic martial artist but truth is he’s lacking in the charisma and acting ability department. Dacascos is the whole package, talent, acting ability, charisma, looks, but I feel he’s had plenty of opportunity to showcase his talents, starring in lots of B movies and tv series like The Crow, he’s been unlucky so far, stuck with mostly mediocre projects and low budget films but he’s had his chances; MJW on the other hand has been largely ignored by the film and TV industry despite being amazingly talented at every level, the films he’s starred in are few, which is a goddamn shame, because he never fails to deliver. MJW imo is the most underrated martial artist out there