Martial Artist/Actors You might not know about, but should.(No particular order)

by Air_Rick | created - 11 Mar 2011 | updated - 17 Jun 2013 | Public

These particular actors don't have the commercial success as say,Jackie Chan or Van Damme(early career). When they are in the big movies, it's usually just as an extra or for stunt work. And when they are the star, it's almost always in straight to DVD movies. But their Martial Arts skills are top notch, just the same.

Comments welcome

1. Scott Adkins

Actor | Boyka: Undisputed IV

Scott Edward Adkins was born on June 17, 1976 in Sutton Coldfield, England, into a family that for generations were butchers. Along with his elder brother Craig, he was raised by their parents, John and Janet (Sanders) Adkins, in a loving middle-class family. Scott attended Bishop Vesey's Grammar ...

An awesome gymnast as well as Martial Artist, along with a great screen presence. his highest profile big screen role was in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' as Weapon XI. But his fans will always know him as Uri Boyka.

See him in: Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, Undisputed III: Redemption', 'Ninja', 'Unleashed',

2. Cynthia Rothrock

Actress | Cui hua kuang mo

Cynthia Rothrock was born on March 8, 1957 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA as Cynthia Ann Christine Rothrock. She is an actress and producer, known for Undefeatable (1993), Lady Dragon (1992) and Honor and Glory (1993).

The Undisputed Queen of Martial Arts! Cynthia Has black belts in 5 different systems: Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do (both Korean), as well as Wushu, Eagle Claw Kung Fu, and Northern Shaolin Kung Fu (all three Chinese).

Cynthia is world famous in all Martial Arts circles, But not so much to the average movie watcher. Her best work defiantly comes from the movies she's done in Hong Kong. Her American movie work standard wise, unfortunately isn't as good. Some of it is still worth a look though.

See her in: 'Above The Law(Righting Wrongs)', 'Yes, Madam!', 'Millionaires Express', 'China O'Brien', 'City Cops', 'Martial Law'....

3. Darren Shahlavi

Actor | I Spy

Darren Shahlavi was seven years old when he started training in martial arts in an old drama theatre in Manchester, England. Inspired by Bruce Lees films and other action movies such as Star Wars, he dreamed of being a movie actor and would show up to his Judo class at the drama hall early to watch...

Was an Bouncer and Bodyguard to visiting celebrities until Being discovered by Donni Yen(Also on this list). Starting out in Bit roles in Hong Kong Cinema, got his big break as the main Bad guy in 'Bloodmoon'. Shahlavi(Like a lot of other people on this list) also moonlights as a stuntman. His biggest profile role would be as the Boxer Cedric Mills in 'I Spy', who is Kelly Robinson's(Eddie Murphy) next big opponent. Check out his impressive Work.

See him in: 'Bloodmoon', IP Man 2', 'Mortal Kombat: Legacy'(Internet Series Shorts), 'Tai Chi Boxer', Cold Vengeance'

4. Donnie Yen

Actor | Yip Man

Donnie Yen was born in Guangzhou, China. His mother, Bow-sim Mark, was a kung fu master and his father, Kylster Yen, a newspaper editor and amateur musician. When Donnie was just two years old, the family moved to Hong Kong and then, when he was 11, to Boston, Massachusetts.

There, Master Bow-sim ...

An tricky entry. Chances are if your reading this list, you are very familiar with most the people on it. Because you are most likely a fan of Martial Arts movies. So you definitely know who Donnie Yen is. But to the average movie goer, he is an unknown. In his home Country he is a major superstar. Credit wise, he may be the most decorated person on this list. His highest profile role(In America) is 'Shanghai Knights' with Jackie Chan.

See him in: 'IP Man 1 & 2', 'Flash Point', 'Dragon Tiger Gate', 'Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen', 'Wing Chun', 'In the Line of Duty 4'. 'Kill Zone'

5. Tony Jaa

Actor | Ong-bak 3

Japanom Yeerum was born on February 5, 1976, in the northeastern province of Surin, Thailand. His parents were elephant herders. Jaa watched martial arts films as a young kid and began to emulate some of his idols, from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan to Jet Li. Jaa studied martial arts at the local ...

Tony Jaa Has Proven that you can't make it in Hollywood off Martial Arts skills alone. Think about it; All of the successful Asian Martial Arts imports(Jackie Chan, Jet Li, to name the most successful) had an angle that got them excepted. Tony Jaa has a great product, but is an marketing execs worse nightmare. Their is a clear answer on how to market him to mainstream audiences. Maybe he just doesn't want to be a star in that way. who knows. But like I said: His work is the real deal. just check out his handful of movies, Starting with 'The Protector'.

Also see him in: 'Ong Bak' Trilogy

6. Gary Daniels

Actor | The Expendables

Gary Edward Daniels (born 9 May 1963) is an English actor, a martial arts artist, a former World Light-heavyweight Kickboxing Champion (P.K.A.), a martial arts action film star, a producer, and a fight coordinator. At a young age, Daniels started to train in the martial arts. At seventeen, Daniels ...

Has been in the game a while. And has an impressive resume to show it. An Kickboxer stylist, his highest profile big screen role was in ' The Expendables'.

See him in: 'Bloodmoon' (1997), 'City Hunter', Fist of the North Star', 'Tekken'

7. Chuck Jeffreys

Stunts | Twelve Monkeys

Born William Charles Jeffreys (III) on July 23, 1958 in Washington, D.C., Chuck Jeffreys found his interest in the martial arts at the age of 8 and started training in Western Boxing and Tae Kwon Do. He began training in Northern (Tien Shan Pai) Shaolin Kung fu in the early 70s. He was well known ...

stunt coordinator,fight choreographer,stuntman,Actor. Has choreographed fights for 'Blade', Freddy vs. Jason, Blade: Trinity, among others. Personally taught Wesley Snipes How to use a Sword. Skilled in Northern Shaolin Kung fu. Chuck showed those skills in front of the camera also.

See him in: 'Bloodmoon', 'Superfights', 'Honor and Glory'

8. Mark Dacascos

Actor | Le pacte des loups

Mark Dacascos is an actor, director, martial artist, and television personality. Whether seen on the big screen or small, playing the good guy or the bad, Mark has been making audience stand up and take notice for many years.

This May, Mark will be seen in highly anticipated film John Wick: Chapter ...

Many of you may know him as The Chairman from 'The Next Iron Chef'. But in his day job he is an film actor. He might be best known as the antagonist to Jet Li's Protagonist, in 'Cradle to the Grave'. Which features a pretty good final showdown. And he also stars in the cult hit 'Only the Strong'.

See him in: 'Only the Strong', 'Cradle 2 the Grave', 'Drive', 'Double Dragon'

9. Michael Jai White

Actor | Black Dynamite

Michael Jai White is an American actor and martial artist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn. White ...

Now this is an tricky entry. While he is a well known and good actor. A lot of people Don't even know that he is an Martial Artist, which gets him a spot on this list. His best Martial Arts performance can be seen in 'Blood & Bone'.

Also see him in: 'Undisputed II: Last Man Standing', 'Silver Hawk', 'Exit Wounds', 'Mortal Kombat: Legacy(Internet Series Shorts)

10. Sammo Kam-Bo Hung

Stunts | Yip Man

Born in Hong Kong, Sammo Hung's acting career began while he was training in acrobatics, martial arts and dance as a child at the China Drama Academy, and he received acclaim for his performance with a troupe called "The Seven Little Fortunes." He made his feature film debut as an actor at the age ...

A legend in Hong Kong cinema in every category(Actor, Director, producer, fight choreography, etc.). The oldest and first from the 'The Seven Little Fortunes'(A troupe from the China Drama Academy, that includes, Jackie Chan, Corey Yuen, Yuen Biao among others) to break into the mainstream. Once again, unless your a die hard Martial Arts fan, you won't know him. Despite being unknown, he had American TV Series 'Martial Law' that had a decent two season run, Capitalizing on the Martial Arts Media boom of the late 90's & early 2000's.

Pushing 60 Sammo is still hard at work, on all sides of the camera.

See him in: Eastern Condors, Dragons Forever, Wheels on Meals, Kill Zone, IP Man 2, 'Enter the Dragon', 'Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars', 'Enter the Fat Dragon'

11. Taimak

Actor | The Last Dragon

Taimak was born on June 27, 1964 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Taimak Guarriello. He is known for his work on The Last Dragon (1985), Dreamers (1999) and Repeat Offenders: Jamais Vu (2011).

Famous and best known for his only mainstream role in 'The Last Dragon(1985).

Has been doing independent movie work since. He also has worked with and trained some of the best fighters in the world, since then and to this day.

Studied Chinese goju, goju-ryu, taekwondo and jujitsu.

See him in: 'The Last Dragon'.

12. Ray Park

Actor | Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Ray Park was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He moved with his parents, younger brother and sister to London, England, at the age of seven. Ray always wanted to be in the movies, and be like their heroes. He also began to nurture a love for martial arts from the age of seven, when his father's fondness ...

Started out as an stunt double, Then was launched directly into the spotlight in his next job as the lead henchman Darth Maul in 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace'. With one exception('Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever'), in all his big roles his face is obscured somehow: 'Star Wars'(Heavy Makeup, Voice dubbed), 'X-Men'(Makeup), 'G.I. JOE: Rise Of The Cobra'(Mask), 'Sleepy Hollow'(No Head!). But his Martial Arts skills always seem to shine threw, and he's also not a bad actor. See him in the films named above.

13. Bradley James Allan

Actor | Boh lei chun

BRAD ALLAN: Born with an inherent fascination of all things Chinese, Brad Allan started studying martial arts, boxing, gymnastics and Chinese circus arts from the age of 10 years. At age 15 years, Brad met two of China's greatest wushu athletes Liang Chang Xing and Tang Lai Wei of the renowned ...

The first non Asian performer on Jackie Chan's Stunt team. He would go on to become one of the best stunt coordinators in the movie business. To see his awesome Martial Arts skill, See 'Gorgeous' where he has two great fights with Jackie Chan.

14. Phillip Rhee

Actor | Best of the Best

Phillip Rhee is a master martial artist, actor and filmmaker best known for creating the "BEST of the BEST" film franchise with his producing partner and mentor Peter E. Strauss (Former Chairman of Lions Gate) and Frank Giustra, a Canadian Billionaire and founder of Lions Gate. The first "Best of ...

This Tae Kwon Do Practitioner's claim to fame was the movie 'Best Of The Best'. He would go on to star in that film's three sequels(even directing two of them), But after that(1998) he virtually disappeared off the scene.

15. Lateef Crowder

Actor | Tekken

Lateef Crowder was born on November 23, 1977 in San Jose, California, USA as Lateef Crowder Dos Santos. He is known for his work on Tekken (2010), Wonder Woman (2017) and Furious 7 (2015).

An up and coming actor/stuntman, who is an Capoeira practitioner. Maybe is best know for his fight in ' Tom-Yum-Goong/ The Protector'.

See him in: 'Tom-Yum-Goong/ The Protector', 'Undisputed 3', 'Tekken'

16. Billy Blanks

Actor | The Last Boy Scout

Muscular African American sports star, actor, media identity and inventor of the phenomenally popular "Tae Bo" fitness system, derived from his extensive martial arts training. Blanks was born in Eerie, Pennsylvania in 1955 amongst humble backgrounds and grew up as one of 15 children, battling ...

Now if I asked the average person "What is Billy Blanks famous for?" 99.9% of the time the answer will be "Tae Bo". Before he hit it big with the exercise program, he had a decent amount of film work featuring his Martial Arts skills.

See him in: 'Showdown', 'Balance of Power', 'The King of the Kickboxers', 'TC 2000'

17. Jon Foo

Actor | Tekken

Jon Foo was born October 30th, 1982 in London England. He is known for his roles in The Protector (2005) Tekken (2010) WEAPONiZED (2016) and Rush Hour (2016) . Inspired by His fathers karate and mothers Judo He began training Kung Fu and now trains mixed styles. He went from performing at festivals...

Jon is a former member of The Jackie Chan stunt team. Leaving to pursue an acting career of his on. Jon is surely making a name for himself. A Wushu practitioner, his biggest role to date is 'Tekken'.

Also see him in: 'Universal Soldier: Regeneration', 'The Protector', 'Streetfighter: Legacy' (video short),

18. Robin Shou

Actor | Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Robin Shou is the fourth child of a Shanghai tailor and homemaker. His family moved to the US in 1971. Their first home in Los Angeles was a 2 bedroom apartment near Olympic and Vermont, today known as Koreatown.

Shou didn't start attending martial arts classes until he was 19. He took Kenpo (Karate...

Best known to American movie goers as Liu Kang in the 'Mortal Kombat' movies, based on the famous video games of the same name. Robin is an Wu Shu practitioner, as well as some Kenpo Karate. He ties the record for appearing in movie video game adaptations, at 4.

Also see him in 'Tiger Cage 2', Lost Time: The Movie, 'Honor and Glory'

19. Cyril Raffaelli

Stunts | Banlieue 13

Cyril Raffaelli was born on April 1, 1974. He is known for his work on District B13 (2004), District 13: Ultimatum (2009) and Live Free or Die Hard (2007).

An French Martial artist who choreographs fights, Stunts, and parkour among other things. he's best known(to American audiences) as the shorter blond who fights Jet Li in 'Kiss of the Dragon'.

Also see him in: 'District B13', 'District 13: Ultimatum', 'Live Free Or Die Hard'

20. Matt Mullins

Stunts | Ford v Ferrari

From his humble beginnings of watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Matt Mullins has risen to become world renown in martial arts, and as a star in the CW4Kids show "Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight".

With 5 martial art world titles in hand, Matt moved from Naperville, IL to Hollywood and quickly began ...

Matt is a five time Martial Arts World Champion, Holding an 4th degree Black belt in the style Shōrei-ryū. He is also one of the Co-creators of XMA style(Extreme Martial Arts), which grew so much in popularity, The Discovery Channel produced an mini-series/Documentary about it.

You may have also seen him in numerous TV commercials, But his biggest role to date my be as Pretty Boy Price in 'Blood & Bone'.

Also see him in 'Adventures of Johnny Tao', 'Mortal Kombat: Rebirth' (Internet short), 'Mortal Kombat: Legacy' (Internet TV Series)

21. Loren Avedon

Actor | The King of the Kickboxers

After graduating from Beverly Hills High School in 1980, while attending college Loren Avedon signed up at the Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do Karate school in Los Angeles. He received his first "break" while training late one night at the Karate school. Producer Roy Horan was looking for an actor/martial ...

An Tae Kwon Do & Hap Ki Do practitioner, Loren's name is easily recognized in Martial Arts circles everywhere, and for good reason. Jumping onto the scene in 1987 with the lead role in 'No Retreat, No Surrender 2', Loren has since made plenty of memorable classic Martial Arts films.

Also see him in: 'The King of the Kickboxers', 'No Retreat, No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers',

22. Biao Yuen

Actor | Bai ga jai

Yuen Biao is regarded as one of the most acrobatic martial artists ever. Unfortunately, he is still underrated and not as popular as other contemporaries such as Jackie Chan, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, and Jet Li even though he is the most critically acclaimed out of all of them and the most talented as ...

Another member of the 'Seven Little Fortunes', And the youngest. Maybe one of the best Acrobatic Martial Artist of all time, Combining Gymnastics and Martial Arts before it was cool. He would even double for Jackie Chan, When Jackie found certain moves too difficult in the early days. Even though he would have some great movies as the lead, Biao would not achieve the individual success as Jackie or Sammo. But he has earned his place Martial Arts cinema history as one of the best.

See him in: 'The Prodigal Son', 'Above The Law(Righting Wrongs)', 'Dragons Forever', 'Dreadnaught', 'Wheels on meals'.

23. Keith Cooke

Actor | Mortal Kombat

Keith Cooke is a man of many qualities, accomplished in the arts of Wushu, Tae Kwon Do and Karate.

He started his WuShu training in 1973, under Roger Tung. In 1980 he went to China and he trained for 5 hours a day and entered the competition circuit in 1983. He immediately gained a second place in ...

Doesn't do many movies now days(as you see he doesn't even have a profile pic). But he has a nice handful collection of movies that display his awsome skills. His most highest profile film is defiantly 'Mortal Kombat: Annihilation', where he has the best fight in the film as he takes on Scorpion in the role of Sub Zero.

Also see him in: 'Mortal Kombat'(as Reptile), 'China O'Brien 1 & 2', 'The King Of The Kick boxers'.

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