When we think of actors in an action movie, we tend to associate them with over-the-top graphics and voiceovers. There is no doubt that Hollywood has a knack for bringing complete amateurs like the real McCoy to the big screen. But there are a surprising number of actors who aren’t all about the hype but have in fact earned their stripes as genuine martial artists. Some of them even make a point of doing their own stunts, refusing to let a stuntman risk their lives. These rare breeds of actors remind us that not all roles are fluffy.
ten Jason statham
British actor known for his tough, hardcore character and explosive fighting skills, Jason Statham is more than just a front for the camera. His fighting skills derive from his athletic background as well as specialized training in martial arts practices such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wing Chun kung fu, karate, kickboxing and other disciplines. He began training in martial arts as a teenager and also represented England as a diver in the 1990 Commonwealth Finals. As one of the few actors to insist that his fight scenes are not choreographed, he has done so in most of his films, but especially in Crank, The Transporter, The Fast and the Furious, and The Expendables franchisees.
9 Wesley snipes
As one of the few African American actors to dominate the world of martial arts and action movies, Wesley Snipes has made a name for himself as a skilled martial artist. Although his first roles in films like New Jack City (1991), Jungle Fever (1991), and White Men Can’t Jump (1992) didn’t showcase his fighting technique, his skills were solid and sharp as a blade (pun intended). At the age of 12, Snipes began training in martial arts and earned a 5th dan black belt in Shotokan karate as well as training in Hapkido, Kung Fu, Brazilian Jui-Jitsu and kickboxing. Its role in Blade Immortalized him as a martial arts legend, in addition to other low budget films focusing more on his fighting skills.
8 Keanu reeves
Besides his outstanding on-screen performances in films like Dracula, the devil’s advocate, the matrix, and John wick, Keanu Reeves is also considered one of Hollywood’s most humble and least decorated actors. He is best known in modern times for his roles in The Matrix Trilogy and John Wick, both of which are high intensity action movies with multiple martial arts fight scenes. Asked about his expertise in martial arts, he replied, “I have no training in martial arts … I only know the Kung-Fu movie.” However, what he lacks in personal training, he makes up for with self-performed stunts. In the Matrix and John Wick franchises, in particular, he does 90% of his own stunts, even at age 56.
7 Jackie chan
Jackie Chan has showcased his Hong Kong-native martial arts disciplines with the world since the 1970s in kung fu films such as The Little Tiger of Canton (1973), New Fist of Fury (1976), and Drunk Master (1978). He even worked alongside the legendary Bruce Lee as a stuntman in Fist of Fury and Enter The Dragon. He has found Hollywood success with films like Franchises Police Story, Armor of God 2: Operation Condor, Rush Hour, Who Am I ?, The Accidental Spy, Shanghai Noon, The Tuxedo, and a series of other films with other famous Hollywood celebrities. Chan is most lauded for performing all of his stunts personally, even to the point of being nearly fatal. No risk, no reward I guess.
6 Jet Li
Jet Li’s early mastery of Wushu, or “military martial arts,” led him to stardom on the Hollywood screen. He was reportedly discovered by Chinese authorities because of his athletic ability and was invited to attend the Beijing Sports and Exercise School. His first major film is Shaolin Temple and Shaolin Martial Arts. He rose to international fame when he starred in Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 The Grave, Lethal Weapon, The Expendables, The One and War to name a few. His speed and agility made him exceptional. Li has performed virtually all of his stunts on his own, but only uses a double for complex action sequences.
5 Jean Claude Van Damme
As a highly skilled and knowledgeable martial arts actor, Jean Claude Van Damme has become a household name with his charming and flirtatious demeanor, confident and quirky. The Belgian actor is also recognized as a filmmaker and choreographer, performing his own stunts in films like Blood Sport, Timecop, Hard Target and Kickboxer. He is known specifically for his epic separations, which he featured in his films, as well as in a Volvo commercial where he splits between two moving trucks to show the accuracy and reliability of the news on the outside.
4 Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White is another of the few African-American actors to solidify his role as an action-packed martial artist and is also one of the few who dares to perform his own stunts. White is also able to wear many hats, as he fills the roles of writer, director, and producer. He started his martial arts journey at the age of seven and holds black belts in different styles of martial arts like Shotokan, Taekwondo, Kobudo, Goju Ryu and Wushu to name a few. some. His film roles include his portrayal of Mike Tyson in Tyson, The Toxic Avenger Part II, Blood and Bone, Undisputed, Universal Soldier: The Return (alongside Jean Claude Van Damme), and many other films. He is also the first African American to play a superhero with his role in Spawn.
3 Taylor lautner
Taylor Lautner may hold the title of youngest Hollywood martial artist, but don’t let her age deter you. Known especially for his role as Jacob Black in the Twilight film series, he captivates crowds with his athletic physique as well as his impressive fighting skills. His interest and natural ability to study the fighting style of karate martial arts from the age of six led him to excel in the discipline. At the age of eight he became a black belt and at age twelve he won three gold medals for representing Americans in the World Karate Association. In 2015 he starred in the action thriller Parkour, Plotters, in which he personally performed all his stunts.
2 Steven segal
Recognized as one of the veterans of the martial arts world, Steven Seagal has distinguished himself as an actor, producer, screenwriter and martial artist. The Michigan native began studying martial arts at a very young age. He traveled to Japan at age 17 to teach English and hone his martial arts skills, which later earned him black belts in Aikido, Karate, Judo, and Kendo. He dominated the era of ’90s martial arts films, with films like Above the law, Hard to kill, and Under siege, and later in films with celebrities like Ja Rule in Exit injuries.
1 Bruce lee
They say it’s better to save the best for last! Bruce Lee doesn’t need to be touted as one of the greatest martial artists of all time. Oddly enough, Bruce Lee never formally studied karate, but you wouldn’t tell by his precise speed and aggressive fighting style. He also created his own fighting style in 1967 called Jeet Kun Do, which was essentially his own expression of kung fu. Despite his speed, precision, and incredible work ethic, Bruce Lee didn’t perform all of his stunts. This may be due to the fact that he is nearsighted. But his personal double stuntman for his acrobatic movements was Yuen Wah, as well as Jackie Chan who worked as a stuntman in his films.
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Source: Brucelee, distract
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