Everyone loves a good action flick. I have compiled the top 10 action stars who know how to provide thrills and excitement. If you’ll note Donnie Yen will not be on the list because he will have his own top 10 in the coming weeks. Other honorable mentions include: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Stephen Chow, and, Ekin Cheng. Now, list kick off this high octane list as I begin the countdown of the Top 10 Asian Action Stars with our number 10 entry:
Tak Sakaguchi stars in films featuring copious fight scenes and performs all of his own stunts. He is known to be skilled in Bājíquán, Shaolin Kenpo, boxing, kick boxing, and mixed martial arts. Before entering into the film industry, Sakaguchi was an underground street fighter who was well-known for his skill in the martial arts. Since then, he has been responsible for some of the most ass kicking scenes in cinema.
Usually found menacing the hero, or enforcing the will of some vicious crime lord, Bolo Yeung has appeared alongside Lieh Lo, Bruce Lee , Jackie Chan and others. I remember growing up thinking he was the baddest man on the planet after watching Bloodsport. He is the chairman of the Hong Kong Gym Business Association, and the team manager of the Taipei International Body Building squad. In 2008, Bolo retired from acting at the age of 70.
Tony Jaa has a fairly short filmography compared to the other rankees, but it is about quality and not quantity. Jaa did all the stunts without mechanical assistance or computer-generated effects and it showcased his style of extreme acrobatics and speedy, dance-like moves. Jackie Chan has even gone on record saying “I think Tony Jaa is the most well-rounded of all action stars.” Quite impressive.
Sammo Hung is one of the kings of kung fu films and Hong Kong action cinema. Hung is one of the pivotal figures who spearheaded the Hong Kong New Wave movement of the 1980s, helped reinvent the martial arts genre and started the vampire-like Jiang Shi genre. Even at his age he goes toe to toe in new films such as Kill Zone and Ip Man 2. He is widely credited with assisting many of his compatriots, giving them their starts in the Hong Kong film industry, by casting them in the films he produced, or giving them roles in the production crew. Deadly, and humble.
Andy Lau has been one of Hong Kong’s most commercially successful film actors since mid-1980s, performing in more than 120 films while maintaining a successful singing career at the same time. This hasn’t been done by any other person I can think of which is why he comes in at such a high ranking. In 2005, Lau was awarded “No.1 Box Office Actor 1985-2005” of Hong Kong, yielding a total box office of HKD 1,733,275,816 for shooting 108 films in the past 20 years.
Known from The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and its sequels from which he adopted his shaved head style, Gordon Lui is one of the greats. His roles in Kill Bill raised Liu’s profile again and a renewed interest was shown by Chinese producers. Since Gordon’s Kill Bill fame, Gordon has returned to doing movies while continuing to do television for Hong Kong’s TVB station. A lot of action stars working today should be thanking Mr. Lui for his contributions for paving the way.
No introduction needed, Jet Li has gone on to star in many Hollywood action films, most recently starring beside Jackie Chan in The Forbidden Kingdom, and as the main villain in The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor. He is set to star in the upcoming film The Expendables. With his martial arts films behind him, we can look forward to more action oriented films from this timeless actor in the future.
A nice change of pace from martial artists, Chow Yun-Fat mainly plays in dramatic films and has won three Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Actor and two Golden Horse Awards for Best Actor in Taiwan. Although Chow continued his TV success, his goal was to become a big screen actor. Since, he made many more ‘gun fu’ films, such as A Better Tomorrow II, Prison on Fire, The Killer, Hard Boiled and City on Fire, which was an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
Another individual who needs no introduction, Jackie Chan is one of my favorite actors period. In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons and innovative stunts. Jackie Chan has been acting since the 1970s and has appeared in over 100 films. he dangerous nature of his stunts makes it difficult for Chan to get insurance, especially in the United States, where his stunt work is contractually limited. How bad ass of an action star do you have to be when you can’t even get insurance? ‘Nuff said.
Bruce Lee is considered one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century, and a cultural icon. It should be no surprise he captures the top slot of the countdown as he is renowned for his physical fitness and vigorous, dedicated fitness regime to become as strong as he possibly could. He has delivered some of the best films to the genre and has paved the way for every single person on this list. Bruce Lee might be gone but the gifts he has given to Asian Cinema will never be forgotton.
There you have it folks! Track down films by these 10 individuals and you’ll have so much action you won’t be able to sleep for a week! If you feel I left anyone out, or you have your own top 10 list, sound off in the comment section! Thanks for reading.