Top 5 Martial Arts Movie Badasses of the 80’s

Norris - Lone Wolf McQuade -

Did somebody say my name?

Who is the most Bad Ass Martial Arts Movie Star of the 1980’s?

The 1980s were a magical moment in movie history. In a time before big special effects, CGI, and digital high-definition film equipment, audiences reveled at an explosive genre that transcended international borders. Of course, I am talking about the martial arts movie boom. Riding on the coattails of the world-renown Bruce Lee, countless martial artist/aspiring action stars kicked, punched, and summersaulted their way into Hollywood. But, amidst the pack only a handful of gifted cinematic warriors took claim of the martial arts megastar mantle.

So, would like to reminisce about the decade that brought us neon colors, acid washed jeans and slap bracelets with our countdown of the Top 5 Martial Arts Movie Badasses of the 80’s.


5. Chuck Norris – The All-American Bad-Ass

Chuck Norris -

Carlos Ray ‘Chuck’ Norris

There used to be a street named after Chuck Norris, but it was changed because nobody crosses Chuck Norris and lives.

Carlos Ray, aka Chuck, Norris is an American martial arts bad ass, action movie star, United States Air Force veteran and founder of his own school, Chuck… I mean, Chun Kuk Do. The internet is a cauldron of examples why Norris is one Grade-A (really grade-b) Bad-Ass. From being the reason why Waldo is hiding or having counted to infinity – twice, Norris’ 80’s onscreen action has never left the annals of action film icons. Norris’ stiff and commando style of on-screen martial arts created a new genre of action film. Check out Chuck Norris’ final showdown against (wait for it) Mr. Kung Fu himself,  David Carradine, in “Lone Wolf McQuade.” While Norris, who has shared the fight-screen with the legendary Bruce Li, easily snatches the #5 spot in Top Martial Arts Movie Badasses of the 80’s, Carradine does not make the list. The reason… Chuck Norris said so. Oh, don’t forget… Chuck Norris once made a Happy Meal cry.
Chuck Norris  in “Lone Wolf McQuade” (1983).


4. Jean Claude Van Damme – The Belgian Bad-Ass

Jean Claude Van Damme -

Jean Claude Van Damme

Jean Claude Van Damme is an indisputable Belgian badass who ax kicks first then takes names. Given his high-kicking art from, it’s no surprise that Van Damme is a long-time Karate practitioner. With iconic 80’s Martial Arts flicks like “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer,” Van Damme is a permanent fixture in the action film universe. What’s even more Bad Ass is that Van Damme has given the internet so many treasures. From his penchant for off-beat photos, to his “Epic Split” Volvo commercial, to having given creative commons a handful of shots of him in-front of a green screen, Van Damme is not only an 80’s bad-ass… he’s a present day Bad-Ass too! If that’s not enough proof, then watch “Kickboxer” in it’s entirety FOR FREE below… courtesy of


Jean Claude Van Damme in “Kickboxer” (1989).

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Author: Pooya

Since his wee lad-dom, Pooya has been a sommelier of cinema. It was likely some acting bug, fallen from the dust riddled ruby curtains of an enchanted old stage that did it. Those cinematic scarabs must have burrowed deep into his brain, irreversibly altering his mind, turning the poor boy down a dismal path.From his earliest years the strange boy would aimlessly wander the aisles of countless video rental stores, amassing his trivial knowledge with vigor. These actions befuddled the boy’s parents, who still would lovingly oblige his unusual attraction to the motion picture. Often seeking refuge in the cushioned seating of his local movie theater, the odd adolescent would immerse himself in the scripted and effects riddled realities unfolding on the screen before him. During his collegiate years, he was twice spotted on stage performing bizarre theatrical rituals before awe-struck audiences. When he departed from academia, he left behind his youth in exchange for a labor routine, but the strange young man never lost his long-cultivated love of film.Recently, Pooya was approached by to join their budding team of entertainment bloggers. After hours of coaxing and an undisclosed number of honey jars, he accepted their offer. Finally he had come full circle. Finally, at, he was home.

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  • Marty Nozz

    Can we get an honorable mention for Sho Kosugi: ninja bad-ass?

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