The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974, dir. Roy Ward Baker [and Chang Cheh])

In 1904 China, a visiting Van Helsing helps combat a Dracula-led vampiric uprising. The last pic of the Hammer cycle innovates through genre mash-up (and a deal with Shaw Brothers). It’s messy, but fun: martial arts showcasing, twists on undead lore, plus some location spectacle all helps.

Here’s the trailer.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021, dir. Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada, with Paul Briggs and John Ripa)

A warrior princess embarks on a quest to unite five fractured kingdoms and repel their collective threat. A very straightforward fantasy drawing on South East Asian design and story influences. Some pleasures in the incidentals, but this is secondhand tick-box monomyth stuff throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

Man of Tai Chi (2013, dir. Keanu Reeves)

A Tai Chi student is lured into an underground fighting circuit. And a very solid martial arts actioner this is too. As old-school as you like, with plenty of well-choreographed fighting and wirework, and a sense of respect for both the subgenre and the traditions it relates to.

Here’s the trailer.

Russian Raid [AKA Russkiy Reyd] (2020, dir. Denis Kryuchkov)

A former soldier hires mercenaries to help him with his revenge plan. Interesting if not wholly successful attempt to remake/localise Gareth Evans’s The Raid. It starts slow with some lazy sub-Tarantinoisms, but gains confidence and panache over time, plus Ivan Kotik is an unusual action star in the making.

Here’s the trailer.

Mortal Kombat (2021, dir. Simon McQuoid)

VFX laden film reboot of the now tired violent 90s video game where good and evil martial artists with special powers battle to the death. Checkbox ticking fan pleasing fap-along! Visually pretty in places – but the dull gaps between fights will quickly exhaust your brains and patience!

Welcome to Sudden Death (2020, dir. Dallas Jackson)

An ex-forces security guard takes on hi-tech thieves during a basketball game. Straightforward DTV reprise of the 1995 Peter Hyams/Van Damme minor action classic: Michael Jai White is as charismatic as ever, and while the movie’s not great, it delivers lo-fi fisticuffs, some OK jokes, and a couple of neat ideas.

Here’s the trailer.

The Yakuza (1974, dir. Sydney Pollack)

A former detective returns to Japan from the US: an old friend’s daughter under threat. Neither quite a neo-noir, an action thriller or a study of overseas crime syndicates, The Yakuza tries to be all three with variable results. Slow, but interesting, with flashes of a darker, better, and more violent film lurking.

Here’s the trailer.

Army Of One (2020, dir. Stephen Dunham)

An ex-special forces soldier takes on the matriarchal backwoods criminal clan who killed her husband. Effective DTV vehicle that maximises limited resources, showcasing Ellen Hollman well. Plenty of unpretentious fisticuffs fun: sharper script and direction, and this would have been a minor classic.

Here’s the trailer.

Legacy of Lies (2020, dir. Adrian Bol)

A former MI6 agent’s past comes back to haunt him. OK DTV actioner from the reliable Scott Adkins, with decent fight choreography and some pizazz in the direction. Secrets and double-crosses as per, though there’s couple of interesting script wrinkles. No gamechanger, but fans will be happy.

Here’s the trailer.

The Debt Collector 2 [AKA Debt Collectors] (2020, dir. Jesse V Johnson)

French and Sue go to Las Vegas on the promise of a payday. DTV martial arts comedy-thriller sequel that’s a cut above. The mix of bickering and bar fights as before, though there’s some panache in the direction, the action choreography, and the chemistry between the leads. Recommended for genre fans.