Lately Netflix has been increasing their Chinese Martial Arts film library but they've also had such content for some time now. If you have Netflix and like wuxia movies, or if you just enjoy fantasy and historical films, many of these may be for you. These are some of my picks for wuxia and fantasy martial arts movies that have appeared on Netflix in the past few years and are still available.This list is mainly the films I think are easy to watch even if you are not super into the genre (I often recommend them to my players).
There used to be even more great wuxia and fantasy martial arts movies on Netflix, but some of them are no longer available so definitely check out these ones while there is still time.
Come Drink With Me
This is a recent edition to the Netflix library and I strongly encourage people to take a look. I've reviewed it and discussed the movie countless times on the blog, so I won't bore readers with that here. Just know it is one of the best wuxia films of all time and a classic in the genre. The version they have up is quite good, my only gripe is they don't have the subtitles for a song in the middle of the film that is rather important to the plot (it is in most other versions I've seen). However I put up the lyrics HERE so you don't have to worry about that.
Detective Dee and Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Hands down this is one of the best films I've ever seen. Directed by Tsui Hark, it is a perfect blend of mystery, action and adventure.The effects are amazing and the cast is incredible (with Carina Lau really standing out as a highly compelling Empress Wu). It follows Detective Dee as he investigates the spontaneous combustion of an official inspecting a giant Buddha statue being constructed to the crowning of the empress. Detective Dee has everything a movie can and should have. There is also a prequel, Detective Dee and the Rise of the Sea Dragon, which is equally good.
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
This is just a really good movie. You don't need to be a wuxia, Chinese myth or martial arts fan to enjoy it. It is by Stephen Chow so it has his signature brand of humor throughout. Demons and myth abound in this imaginative retelling of the classic Journey to the West (it is set prior to the actual Journey to the West).
House of Flying Daggers
This movie needs very little introduction. It is a gorgeously shot wuxia film by Zhang Yimou (Hero and Curse of the Golden Flower). It stars Andy Lau and Zhang Ziyi. The plot is fairly straightforward with a local official escorting the daughter of the leader a rebel group called the House of Flying Daggers in hopes of uprooting the group. There are some twists and turns along the way with some interesting reveals in the end, but what stands out about the film is how its shot and the choreography.
The Sorcerer and the White Snake
This is the story of Madame White Snake. I reviewed another film version of the tale, Green Snake, in a previous blog post. The Sorcerer is a love story with plenty of action and supernatural special effects. It stars Jet Li as the fearsome Abbot Fahai, who hounds the star crossed lovers, Su Su and Xu Xian. Xu Xian is a kind physician and Su Su is a snake demon who has taken human form through centuries of cultivation.
Painted Skin II: Resurrection
This is a really good, and easily overlooked, martial arts fantasy movie. It is based on classic Chinese ghost short story by Pu Songling.The original starred Donnie Yen, Zhao Wei, Zhou Xun, and Chen Kun. The sequel re-unites them, sans Donnie Yen, and I actually like this one better than the original. Very much a film gamers would appreciate.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
I reviewed this one as well. It is another Tsui Hark movie and also stars Jet Li. I think this is a wonderful movie. You can see what I have to say about it HERE.
Tai Chi Master
Another Jet Li movie, this is 90s Hong Kong action and swordplay at its peak. I reviewed this one as well, HERE. If you like martial arts and swordplay with humor liberally sprinkled in, this is definitely for you.
Other movies worth checking out (that I didn't have time to write-up)
Brotherhood of Blades, The Five Venoms, Wing Chun, Red Cliff, True Legend, Kung Fu Hustle, Tai Chi Hero, 14 Blades, The Assassin's Blade, Iron Monkey, King of Beggars, and Avenging Eagle.
There are quite a few others available now, and I am sure some have made it on in the last month or so that have escaped my notice (as they seem to be ramping up the classic wuxia and kung fu film library).