5 Must-Watch Movies Showcasing the Power of Filipino Martial Arts

The Rise of Filipino Martial Arts in Cinema

Filipino martial arts, also known as Kali or Eskrima, have gained international recognition for their dynamic and effective fighting techniques. In recent years, Hollywood and international filmmakers have incorporated Filipino martial arts into their films, showcasing the power and beauty of these unique fighting styles. In this article, we’ll explore five must-watch movies that highlight the prowess of Filipino martial arts and their impact on the big screen.

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

The Raid: Redemption, directed by Gareth Evans, is a high-octane Indonesian action film that prominently features Pencak Silat, a Southeast Asian martial art heavily influenced by Filipino martial arts. The film follows a SWAT team as they infiltrate a high-rise building controlled by a ruthless crime lord. The fight scenes in The Raid: Redemption are a masterclass in close-quarters combat, featuring intricate knife work and lightning-fast strikes that showcase the agility and precision of Filipino martial arts.

  • Intense fight choreography
  • Close-quarters combat
  • Agility and precision

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

The John Wick franchise has become synonymous with expertly choreographed fight sequences, and the third installment, Parabellum, takes it to a new level by incorporating elements of Filipino martial arts. In this film, Keanu Reeves’ titular character faces off against adversaries using Arnis, a Filipino martial art focused on weapon-based fighting. The fluidity and speed of Arnis techniques are on full display in the film’s stunning action set pieces, solidifying its place as a must-watch for fans of Filipino martial arts.

  • Weapon-based fighting
  • Fluid and fast-paced techniques
  • Stunning action set pieces

Merantau (2009)

Merantau is another action-packed offering from Gareth Evans, who would later go on to direct The Raid series. The film serves as an introduction to the Indonesian martial art of Silat, which shares many similarities with Filipino martial arts. The protagonist, played by Iko Uwais, employs Silat techniques in exhilarating fight scenes that highlight the artistry and precision of Southeast Asian martial arts.

  • Showcases Indonesian Silat
  • Exhilarating fight scenes
  • Artistry and precision

BuyBust (2018)

BuyBust, directed by Erik Matti, is a gritty action film that puts Filipino martial arts front and center. The movie follows an anti-narcotics squad as they find themselves trapped in a labyrinthine slum controlled by drug lords. The fight scenes in BuyBust are raw and visceral, featuring a mix of close-quarters combat and brutal weapon exchanges that exemplify the no-holds-barred nature of Filipino martial arts.

  • Raw and visceral fight scenes
  • No-holds-barred combat
  • Brutal weapon exchanges

The Bourne Identity (2002)

While not a film centered on Filipino martial arts, The Bourne Identity deserves mention for its influential fight choreography that draws from Kali, the Filipino martial art of stick and knife fighting. Actor Matt Damon underwent extensive training in Kali to convincingly portray his character’s lethal hand-to-hand combat skills. The film’s use of Kali techniques in the fight sequences has had a lasting impact on action cinema and serves as a testament to the potency of Filipino martial arts on the global stage.

  • Influential fight choreography
  • Kali techniques in hand-to-hand combat
  • Lasting impact on action cinema


Filipino martial arts have made a notable impact in the world of cinema, with filmmakers increasingly incorporating their techniques into action films to mesmerize audiences with their speed, precision, and raw power. The five must-watch movies highlighted in this article serve as compelling showcases of the potency of Filipino martial arts, solidifying their status as a force to be reckoned with on the big screen.