THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS: Iconic Weapons in Martial Arts Movies, Including Bruce Lee’s Nunchaku, KILL BILL’s Katana, the Flying Guillotine and More!

by     Posted 1 year, 165 days ago

Now let’s take a look at the deceptively simple bo staff.  It’s basically a broom stick, right? Anyone can use it!  Wrong.  This thing in the hands of a real master is really something to be wary of.  Since it’s so common and recognizable, we have two clips to show it off: first is a completely insane final fight from 1984’s Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (see if you can spot the obvious Kill Bill inspiration):

And the other is a more humorous example from 1989’s Pedicab Driver, starring Sammo Hung:

Ready for some more crazy weapons? How about these wacky boomerang-bladed devices created only for the 1977 film, Shaolin Kung Fu Mystagogue.  The plot never actually mentions the word “mystagogue” or even explains what, or who, it is.  But there are some crazy ass blades flying around by the name of the “bloody birds.”  Check it out:

So the bad guy basically dismantled a couple blenders and used the blades as weapons? Okay… Well, getting back to legit blades.  I can’t have an iconic martial arts weapon article without a katana and since The Man with the Iron Fists just so happens to be produced by Quentin Tarantino, how about we revisit Kill Bill and the Hattori Hanzo sword?  (I could have gone with the classic 1962 tale of the blind swordsman in The Tale of Zaitoichi, but the Tarantino connection was too good to pass up.)

Now, you ask, what would happen if these weapons masters all got together and had access to a vast arsenal?  Well look no further than 1980’s The Master/Three Evil Masters.  Even their hair is a weapon in this one!

You want more fight?!  Then we’ll end things with 1982’s Legendary Weapons of China.  It happens to be the name of Wu-Tang Clan’s 2011 compilation album, so there’s your RZA connection.  It also happens to feature 18 different weapons that are iconic to Chinese martial arts, which are conveniently labeled for you during the fight (minus the voodoo doll…you’ll see).  Check it out below!

If you’re interested in learning more about the weapons outside of the movies, this National Geographic special is as good (and safe) a place as any to start.  I guarantee there are fan-favorites out there that I didn’t get to (Jean-Claude Van Damme’s glass-dipped hand wraps in Kickboxer, Pat Morita’s deadly chopsticks in The Karate Kid and Jet Li’s needle bracelet in Kiss of the Dragon come to mind).  But I wanted to bring you some weapons you may not have seen, introduced you to some films you may not have heard of and hopefully given you a deeper appreciation of martial arts in general.  I know RZA respects it.  Now go show him some love and check out The Man with the Iron Fists in theaters starting November 2nd!


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  • Andrew

    Always nice to see kung fu flicks get some love on a big site like this. My favorite will always be the Three-Section Staff as used by Gordon Liu and Lau Kar Leung

  • bredwill

    The Man with the Iron Fists is a 2012 action movie.This is movies is directed by RZA and written by RZA and Eli Roth. The movie stars Russell Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu, Byron Mann, RZA, Rick Yune, David Bautista, and Jamie Chung.Dont forget to watch The Man with the Iron Fists movie.

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