Top 10 Martial Arts Films to Watch: For Motivation and Inspiration

January 18, 2023
From: Spartacus
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Starting out as a newbie MMA fighter can be a real test, but the journey is filled with excitement and rewards that make it all worthwhile. And if you’re looking for inspiration and motivation at every step, then nothing beats the pulse-pounding action and life lessons of martial arts movies. In fact, these films offer a goldmine of insights and skills that can be applied to your training and fighting in the cage.

Just as our fighters at Spartacus MMA showcase their passion and skills in the ring, martial arts films have been inspiring millions around the globe with their display of discipline, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence. Here, we share our top ten martial arts films that have the potential to motivate and inspire you, just like our live events and exclusive Spartacus content do.

“Enter the Dragon” (1973)

Enter the Dragon is a classic martial arts movie that will make you want to jump up and deliver a flying kick to your living room lamp. Bruce Lee stars as the ultimate bad-ass fighter, who is enlisted by the British intelligence to infiltrate a martial arts tournament held by a sinister crime lord. With epic fight scenes, impressive choreography, and a killer soundtrack, this movie is a true masterpiece that will leave you feeling pumped and ready to take on any opponent in the ring.

If you want to be a fierce fighter, you gotta have discipline, and what better way to get motivated than watching a movie that oozes discipline from every scene? “Enter the Dragon” is just what you need to get in the right headspace. This movie will have you craving the discipline needed to succeed in MMA and inspire you to train harder than ever before.

Plus, who wouldn’t want to learn Bruce Lee’s famous “finger pointing to the moon” philosophy? So grab your nunchucks and get ready to enter the dragon!


“Bloodsport” (1988)

Get ready to feel the fighting spirit in “Bloodsport” (1988) starring the legendary Jean-Claude Van Damme! Based on the true story of Frank Dux, this movie teaches us the importance of perseverance, determination, and never giving up on our dreams.

As a beginner MMA fighter, you’ll learn the value of pushing through difficult times and never giving up. Frank Dux had a clear goal in mind: to win the Kumite tournament, and he was willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. This movie inspires us to have a clear goal in mind and work towards it with a sense of purpose, helping us stay focused and motivated during training.

Moreover, “Bloodsport” reminds us of the importance of being adaptable in the ring. Frank Dux didn’t stick to one style, he was willing to learn from different styles and adapt to the situation, making him victorious in the tournament. As a beginner MMA fighter, this movie encourages us to have an open mind and be willing to learn from different styles and techniques. 


“The Karate Kid” (1984)

Wax on, wax off! “The Karate Kid” is a timeless classic that has inspired generations of martial artists to learn the ways of discipline, focus, and inner strength. This movie follows the journey of a young boy named Daniel as he learns the art of karate from the wise and patient Mr. Miyagi.

What’s great about this movie is that it’s not just about punching and kicking, it’s about the mindset and attitude of a true martial artist. Daniel learns the value of hard work, perseverance, and respect, which are all key ingredients to success in MMA.

Not to mention, who can forget the iconic crane kick? This movie has some of the most memorable and thrilling fight scenes that will make you want to jump off the couch and join in on the action.

So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, “The Karate Kid” will inspire you to reach new heights in your training and remind you of the power of inner strength. Wax on, wax off, and let’s kick some butt!


“Kickboxer” (1989)

Released in 1989, “Kickboxer” is a classic martial arts movie that has inspired generations of fighters. The movie stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Kurt Sloane, a young American fighter who travels to Thailand to avenge his brother’s defeat at the hands of a ruthless Muay Thai champion.

What makes “Kickboxer” stand out is its intense and brutal fight scenes that showcase the power and agility of Muay Thai fighting. The movie also teaches us about the importance of training hard and mastering your craft, as Kurt Sloane spends months in grueling training to prepare for his ultimate showdown.

In addition to the action-packed fight scenes, “Kickboxer” also has a powerful message about the importance of honor and respect in martial arts. Kurt Sloane learns that winning isn’t everything and that true success comes from being a good person and treating others with kindness and respect.

As an MMA fighter, watching “Kickboxer” can give you the inspiration and motivation you need to push yourself to the next level. From the intense training scenes to the epic fight scenes, this movie is a true testament to the power of martial arts and the human spirit. So, strap on your gloves, get in the ring, and let “Kickboxer” be your guide on your journey to becoming a champion.


“Ip Man” (2008)

This movie is based on the true story of Ip Man, the legendary Wing Chun master who trained Bruce Lee. The film follows Ip Man’s journey during the Japanese occupation of China, where he defends his martial arts honor and teaches his fellow countrymen the ways of Wing Chun.

“Ip Man” is an epic martial arts film that will have you on the edge of your seat. From the stunning fight choreography to the compelling story of a man standing up for his beliefs, this movie has it all. You’ll be inspired by Ip Man’s unwavering dedication to his art and his people, as well as his incredible skill in combat.

One of the key takeaways from “Ip Man” is the importance of training with discipline and focus. Ip Man’s commitment to his training is evident throughout the film, and it’s clear that his dedication is what makes him such a formidable fighter. As an MMA fighter, you can learn from Ip Man’s example by training consistently and with a clear sense of purpose.

Another lesson from the film is the value of adaptability in combat. Ip Man faces a variety of opponents with different fighting styles, and he is able to adapt and overcome each one. This is a crucial skill for MMA fighters, as you never know who you’ll be facing in the ring. By being open-minded and adaptable in your training, you’ll be better prepared to face any opponent.

And last but not least, “Ip Man” teaches us the importance of standing up for what you believe in. Ip Man is not only a martial arts master but also a symbol of hope and resistance for his people. He fights not just for himself but for the honor of his art and the freedom of his country. As an MMA fighter, it’s important to remember that you are not just fighting for yourself but for the sport and the values it represents.


“The Raid: Redemption” (2011)

This action-packed movie will have you on the edge of your seat, heart pumping with adrenaline, and fists ready to fight.

Set in the dangerous streets of Jakarta, this movie follows a group of elite police officers as they attempt to take down a ruthless drug lord. But as they enter the drug lord’s high-rise fortress, they quickly realize that they are vastly outnumbered and outgunned.

What follows is a non-stop, high-octane, martial arts extravaganza that will leave you breathless. From hand-to-hand combat to heart-stopping shootouts, this movie has it all.

But “The Raid: Redemption” isn’t just mindless action. It also teaches valuable lessons about teamwork, perseverance, and determination. As the police officers face one obstacle after another, they must rely on each other to survive and succeed. This is a great reminder for beginner MMA fighters that in order to succeed, you must work together with your team and never give up.

Moreover, the movie showcases the importance of adaptability in a fight. The police officers must constantly adapt to their surroundings and the changing situation, in order to come out victorious. As a beginner MMA fighter, this is a crucial lesson to learn because being able to adapt to your opponent’s moves and changing circumstances can make all the difference in a fight.


“Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior” (2003)

Are you ready to witness some jaw-dropping, heart-stopping Muay Thai action? Then get ready for “Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior”! This movie features the incredible Tony Jaa, who performs some of the most insane and awe-inspiring fight scenes you’ll ever see.

As a beginner MMA fighter, “Ong-Bak” teaches us about the importance of mastering the basics. Jaa’s character, Ting, is a master of the ancient Muay Thai style, and he is able to defeat his opponents with ease because of his mastery of the fundamentals. Ting’s precision and efficiency in his strikes is a testament to the value of mastering the basics.

This movie also teaches us the importance of dedication and hard work. In order to save his village, Ting must travel to the city to retrieve a sacred statue, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission. His dedication to his cause is a lesson for all MMA fighters – success in the sport requires a willingness to put in the work and make sacrifices.

“Ong-Bak” showcases the importance of adaptability in the ring. Ting faces opponents with a variety of fighting styles, and he is able to adapt his technique and strategy to defeat them. As a beginner MMA fighter, it’s important to have an open mind and be willing to learn from different styles and techniques in order to succeed.


“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000)

In a world where martial arts movies are a dime a dozen, there’s one film that stands out from the rest: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). This visually stunning masterpiece combines breathtaking fight scenes with a gripping story, making it an instant classic.

First off, let’s talk about the fight scenes. They’re not your run-of-the-mill, punch-and-kick affairs. No, the characters in this movie are practically flying through the air, leaping from rooftops and trees like it’s nothing. It’s like watching a real-life superhero movie, but with swords instead of capes.

But it’s not just the action that makes this movie great. The story is just as captivating, with a richly detailed world and complex characters. There’s betrayal, romance, and even a touch of humor thrown in for good measure. It’s the kind of movie that you can watch over and over again and still discover new things every time.

This film teaches us the value of respecting our opponents. In “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, the warriors show respect for each other, even when they are battling fiercely. As MMA fighters, we must remember that our opponents are also dedicated athletes who have worked hard to get to where they are. By showing respect, we can create a more positive and sportsmanlike atmosphere in the ring.

And let’s not forget about the incredible soundtrack. The hauntingly beautiful score perfectly complements the on-screen action, adding an extra layer of emotion to an already unforgettable experience.


“The Matrix” (1999)

Welcome to the matrix, where everything you know is about to change! This movie may not be a traditional martial arts film, but it is an action-packed sci-fi adventure that showcases some seriously cool fight scenes.

In “The Matrix,” Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a computer hacker who discovers that the world he knows is actually a computer simulation created by machines that have taken over the world. As Neo learns to navigate this new reality, he discovers that he has incredible fighting abilities that allow him to take on the powerful agents who police the Matrix.

What makes “The Matrix” unique is its combination of futuristic technology and martial arts moves. The fight scenes are choreographed with precision and style, featuring slow-motion shots that allow us to see every punch, kick, and flip in detail.

But “The Matrix” is not just about cool fight scenes – it also explores deeper philosophical themes, such as the nature of reality, free will, and destiny. As a martial arts movie, it teaches us that the mind is just as important as the body in combat. By learning to control our thoughts and emotions, we can tap into our full potential and become unstoppable fighters.

Just as Neo had to learn to adapt to the constantly changing reality of the Matrix, an MMA fighter must be able to adapt to any situation in the ring. This means being prepared for unexpected moves and being able to think on your feet. The film emphasizes the power of the mind, and an MMA fighter can benefit greatly from training their mental game. This includes visualization, positive self-talk, and mental preparation before a fight.

So, if you want to see some mind-blowing martial arts moves and explore some big ideas at the same time, “The Matrix” is the movie for you. Get ready to dodge bullets, defy gravity, and enter a whole new world of martial arts.


“The Fighter” (2010)

“The Fighter” is a biographical sports drama film that follows the real-life story of professional boxer Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg. The film tells the tale of his struggles both inside and outside the ring, and his journey towards becoming a world champion.

Can we talk about Christian Bale’s transformation into Dicky Eklund? He lost a ton of weight, shaved his head, and got those crazy teeth just to play this role. That’s dedication right there!

And let’s not forget about Micky Ward’s iconic mustache. That thing is a work of art! It’s like it has its own personality. You can’t help but root for a guy with a mustache like that.

For MMA fighters, the key takeaway from this film is the importance of perseverance and determination. Micky Ward had to overcome many obstacles in his career, including injuries, setbacks, and personal challenges. But he never gave up on his dream of becoming a champion, and his persistence paid off in the end.

The film also teaches us the value of hard work and discipline in achieving success. Micky Ward had to put in countless hours of training and make difficult sacrifices to achieve his goals. As an MMA fighter, it’s essential to have the same level of dedication and commitment to your craft.

It also emphasizes the importance of having a well-rounded skill set in combat sports. Micky Ward had to adapt his style and technique to defeat opponents who were bigger and stronger than him. As an MMA fighter, it’s crucial to have a diverse set of skills and be able to adjust to different opponents and situations.



The article has been a fun ride through the top 10 martial arts films that can inspire and motivate any aspiring fighter. From the legendary “Enter the Dragon” to the thrilling “The Raid: Redemption,” we have explored different stories that showcase discipline, perseverance, determination, and a never-give-up attitude.

These movies have not only entertained us with their breathtaking fight scenes and gripping plotlines but also taught us valuable lessons about life and combat sports. We have learned the importance of hard work, focus, adaptability, and having a strong support system in achieving success.

Watching these films can be an excellent way to boost your morale and get motivated to train harder and smarter. So, grab some popcorn, turn on the TV, and let these martial arts movies take you on a journey of self-discovery and inspiration.

While these films offer plenty of inspiration, don’t forget to check out the real-life martial arts heroes on the Spartacus app. Whether it’s live events, 1-on-1 interviews, or behind-the-scenes footage, we bring the world of MMA right to your fingertips.


What are the key lessons for beginner MMA fighters from “Enter the Dragon”?

“Enter the Dragon” emphasises the importance of preparation, strategy, and mental agility. For beginner MMA fighters, the film suggests that martial arts isn’t just about physical strength; it’s about understanding your opponent and adapting mid-fight. Bruce Lee’s famous “be like water” philosophy underscores the need for flexibility and adaptability in combat sports.

How does “Bloodsport” emphasise the importance of perseverance and adaptability in martial arts?

“Bloodsport” showcases the grit and resilience needed to excel in martial arts. The protagonist, Frank Dux, faces overwhelming odds and adapts his fighting style to counter different opponents. The message for aspiring martial artists is clear: perseverance and adaptability are as crucial as any fighting technique.

What can “The Karate Kid” teach us about the mindset and attitude required for martial arts?

“The Karate Kid” offers lessons on the importance of mentorship, discipline, and the ‘never give up’ attitude. Daniel LaRusso’s journey from a bullied kid to a competent martial artist under Mr. Miyagi’s tutelage underscores that mindset and attitude can often be as important as skill.

What are the major themes highlighted in “Kickboxer” about martial arts training?

“Kickboxer” deals with themes of revenge, self-discovery, and rigorous training. The protagonist goes through intense conditioning and learns to integrate different martial arts styles. The film shows that martial arts training is as much about developing inner strength as it is about mastering techniques.

What can MMA fighters learn about discipline and focus from the movie “Ip Man”?

“Ip Man” presents the life of a disciplined and focused martial artist. Through Ip Man’s actions and lifestyle, the movie teaches MMA fighters that discipline and focus are the cornerstones of martial arts. These attributes not only enhance skill but also define one’s character.

How does “The Raid: Redemption” emphasise the value of teamwork and adaptability?

“The Raid: Redemption” is a visceral action film that emphasises the value of teamwork and adaptability when faced with almost insurmountable odds. It illustrates that even the most skilled fighter can benefit from coordinated efforts and quick thinking in high-stakes situations.

What are the basics of Muay Thai that “Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior” focuses on?

“Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior” focuses on Muay Thai’s essential techniques like elbow strikes, knee attacks, and powerful kicks. It shows that mastering the basics can give a fighter a significant advantage, emphasising the art’s effectiveness for both offence and defence.

What does “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” teach about sportsmanship and respect in martial arts?

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” teaches about sportsmanship and respect by illustrating the deep honour codes that govern the actions of its martial artist characters. The film suggests that understanding and respecting your opponent is fundamental to the ethical practice of martial arts.

What philosophical themes in “The Matrix” are relevant to MMA training?

“The Matrix” delves into philosophical themes like the nature of reality and self-determination. Relevant to MMA training, it underscores the need for mental clarity and the understanding that limitations are often self-imposed, encouraging fighters to break through their perceived boundaries.

How does “The Fighter” portray the struggles and challenges faced by professional fighters?

“The Fighter” portrays the struggles and challenges of professional fighting, including family dynamics, personal sacrifices, and the pressure to perform. It serves as a realistic reminder that a fighter’s journey is fraught with obstacles that extend beyond the ring, requiring resilience and support networks to overcome them.

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