Five Favorite Films

Yuen Woo-Ping's Five Favorite Fight Scenes

The legendary fight choreographer of The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and director of Master Z: Ip Man Legacy reflects on his own work.

by | April 12, 2019 | Comments

 VCG/Getty Images

(Photo by VCG/Getty Images)

You may not immediately recognize Yuen Woo-ping‘s name, but if you’ve seen the Matrix movies, the Kill Bill movies, or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, then you’ve seen his work. The renowned martial arts director and fight choreographer has orchestrated some of the most memorable and thrilling action sequences in all of cinema, working with people like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Donnie Yen. Some of his films, like Iron Monkey, Wing Chun, and the original Drunken Master, are widely celebrated classics of the genre, which has benefited from his talents for nearly half a century.

This week, Yuen releases his latest directorial effort, a spinoff of the popular Ip Man franchise called Master Z: Ip Man Legacy. The film focuses on a martial arts master in 1960s Hong Kong who loses a duel with Ip Man and decides to retire, only to be drawn back into fighting by a local drug dealer. Normally, we would ask Yuen what his Five Favorite Films were, but with such an extensive list of credits, we thought we’d do something a little more interesting. With that in mind, read on for Yuen Woo-ping’s five favorite fight scenes that he himself directed.

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2018) 89%

The Sign Fight

This one is from my most recent film so it’s still fresh in my mind. The idea was to do a fight completely at height on the signs on our Hong Kong street set. We designed the sequence for months as the wire work with that many people was especially complicated. It was all done off real buildings, nothing was done in a studio. We were hesitant to commit to this sequence because we were shooting in the middle of typhoon season and we were worried the wind would destroy our set and we would not have time to rebuild and would have to scrap the sequence midway through. In the end, we took a chance and the heavens watched over us and we finished the sequence three days early.

Iron Monkey (1993) 91%

Paper Catching

Though not really a fight, this sequence of grabbing papers caught in a wind has a special place in my heart. It’s one of the times where we take all the martial arts know-how and use it on a character moment without combat. A beautiful little scene.

The Grandmaster (2013) 78%

Train Station Fight

Hero fights with two people are the most fun to choreograph and probably also the most entertaining to watch. This film was a long time in the making – almost three years. The actors trained hard to learn martial arts and it all shows in this scene. Zhang Ziyi’s bagua and Max Zhang’s xingyi are on full display and we incorporated the best moves from each style. It was the perfect culmination of martial arts, hard work, and cinema.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) 97%

Tie: Night Chase and Dojo Fight

The film is regarded as a classic but many people were skeptical when Ang Lee wanted to make this film. We really pushed ourselves on these two sequences. The Night Chase sequence not only had to have the actors flying on rooftops, but the cameramen as well. Combined with Tan Dun’s drums, the sequence is as thrilling to watch as it was to make.

The Dojo Fight was a fun sequence. Ang Lee wanted a fight with “everything” so we used every weapon we could think of. Even though there are a couple comedic beats in the sequence, it really showed how powerful the Green Destiny sword was in the story.

Drunken Master (1978) 80%

Final Fight

This was my second film as director and it was made in same style as my first film, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow. I got to work with my father, who first got me into filmmaking. Since I was still just starting out, the budget and schedule were very tight. And at that point, people were still figuring out the kung fu genre, so we were really left to figure things out on our own. All the hard work paid off and the film was a huge success in Asia. It made drunken boxing popular again to the point where wushu started practicing it again. It made Jackie Chan a star and it got me work for years to come.

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy opens in limited release on Friday, April 12.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

WarnerMedia spanish CBS All Access independent Logo BET Awards legend new york CNN cancelled television Cartoon Network Best and Worst ratings Quiz festival E! GLAAD Teen royal family Music ghosts south america Adult Swim posters twilight quibi Elton John animated game show blaxploitation name the review period drama worst OWN 2020 robots Film Festival Certified Fresh ID documentary based on movie comiccon politics Food Network nbcuniversal a nightmare on elm street Wes Anderson American Society of Cinematographers Universal Pictures CBS basketball sopranos Box Office See It Skip It The Walking Dead video Lifetime Spike Captain marvel Universal President screenings Acorn TV concert lord of the rings Freeform Dark Horse Comics Podcast elevated horror die hard blockbusters game of thrones Black History Month rt labs rotten A24 DGA Tarantino Crackle theme song ITV king arthur Pride Month mob IFC italian harry potter NBA Syfy sag awards marvel comics anthology golden globe awards Winners olympics NYCC Superheroes live event Arrowverse 2019 cinemax werewolf TV Baby Yoda best HBO Max TCA 2017 Fantasy The CW Starz series disaster Grammys finale hollywood Marathons The Walt Disney Company razzies 007 Writers Guild of America Sci-Fi serial killer APB hispanic heritage month spinoff Fargo women rom-coms transformers cancelled fresh golden globes GIFs diversity superman Sundance Now singing competition dexter Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cats Comic-Con@Home 2021 Reality Competition 72 Emmy Awards Drama Discovery Channel movies Cannes crime thriller spider-man MSNBC hidden camera documentaries space young adult Amazon Prime Crunchyroll Academy Awards USA Network canceled mission: impossible Walt Disney Pictures Animation USA BBC One 2015 child's play batman Paramount Plus 71st Emmy Awards 73rd Emmy Awards hispanic Trivia streaming movies Mystery obituary medical drama chucky Red Carpet discovery Rom-Com Sneak Peek rotten movies we love Brie Larson First Reviews nature vs. Film comic books Calendar films Disney+ Disney Plus Comedy Central Holidays binge slasher PaleyFest franchise cults ABC History aliens Mudbound Marvel TLC Warner Bros. TV renewals vampires news blockbuster know your critic renewed TV shows Columbia Pictures New York Comic Con Infographic Year in Review Family Election Creative Arts Emmys new zealand laika Television Critics Association 93rd Oscars Shondaland MTV Musicals boxing sitcom YouTube Red casting 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Netflix SDCC Comic Book HBO Go justice league rt labs critics edition cancelled TV shows National Geographic Showtime BAFTA Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 2017 emmy awards Hulu 2021 political drama miniseries stand-up comedy 45 X-Men composers comic book movies Endgame DirecTV Amazon Oscars Rocketman Pet Sematary crime drama Ellie Kemper LGBT TIFF SXSW RT History adenture asian-american psycho Heroines The Witch Turner Classic Movies cops Alien AMC spy thriller supernatural E3 Musical Nominations TCA Winter 2020 Nickelodeon green book prank Paramount Network sequels Tomatazos TruTV video on demand teaser children's TV french 90s Rocky Set visit Biopics godzilla Lifetime Christmas movies Marvel Studios genre Travel Channel VH1 technology cooking Premiere Dates breaking bad debate heist movie travel Cosplay classics Nat Geo social media TCA Awards Watching Series MCU talk show Western jamie lee curtis Funimation stoner Photos nfl art house universal monsters new star wars movies japan biography RT21 comedies tv talk slashers what to watch Super Bowl Emmys The Arrangement Tubi zombies mockumentary WGN YouTube Premium mcc worst movies historical drama docuseries FOX Awards docudrama Christmas Amazon Prime Video Lionsgate Classic Film DC Comics Bravo Horror dreamworks popular Extras dceu Peacock Pop TV trailers TNT Instagram Live gangster AMC Plus free movies VOD jurassic park Trailer TCM BBC adaptation YouTube 21st Century Fox IFC Films boxoffice indiana jones comic book movie ABC Signature pirates of the caribbean stop motion Spring TV Women's History Month Sundance Song of Ice and Fire movie Britbox Reality Rock Black Mirror romantic comedy action-comedy Stephen King spanish language Mindy Kaling james bond Sundance TV zombie Summer richard e. Grant San Diego Comic-Con FX on Hulu Thanksgiving Television Academy police drama book Legendary Tokyo Olympics Mary poppins high school suspense black comedy TV One Schedule comics biopic Lucasfilm 1990s A&E Turner VICE kids The Purge television toy story Hallmark Christmas movies Avengers LGBTQ sports Tumblr TCA spain 99% Kids & Family Country Pirates ABC Family natural history ESPN Martial Arts Ghostbusters Polls and Games criterion 20th Century Fox unscripted directors Fox News 4/20 Winter TV monster movies halloween versus thriller FXX First Look parents Image Comics Pop HBO cars ViacomCBS true crime Hallmark sequel Disney Plus Hear Us Out 2016 fast and furious marvel cinematic universe CW Seed FX DC Universe adventure Ovation Disney Channel remakes YA cancelled TV series Fall TV streaming Awards Tour kong revenge christmas movies psychological thriller reboot comic superhero Opinion Comics on TV dogs dragons Broadway Masterpiece facebook Apple TV Plus Mary Tyler Moore strong female leads Trophy Talk TBS feel good Character Guide Star Wars spider-verse hist Apple scary joker witnail zero dark thirty Pacific Islander dark reviews Comedy Emmy Nominations PBS black Interview GoT Binge Guide Marvel Television TV Land romance Action Anna Paquin BET Shudder science fiction critics award winner BBC America 24 frames cartoon critic resources scary movies deadpool aapi anime dramedy El Rey 2018 NBC Disney Amazon Studios indie Pixar SundanceTV toronto Spectrum Originals rt archives saw PlayStation live action latino Holiday Apple TV+ venice war Chernobyl king kong Countdown Paramount archives wonder woman Sony Pictures scorecard book adaptation halloween tv Star Trek The Academy kaiju Fox Searchlight japanese Video Games mutant screen actors guild festivals dc TV movies australia Disney streaming service IMDb TV DC streaming service CMT crime Exclusive Video doctor who OneApp Valentine's Day international scene in color Epix Mary Poppins Returns all-time canceled TV shows crossover football telelvision Vudu Netflix Christmas movies Toys foreign Superheroe target Esquire Neflix satire