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 (2019) 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 (2001) 90%

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 (2001) 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 (Jui kuen) (1978) 82%

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

DGA Star Wars kids Bravo Infographic mutant Binge Guide The Walking Dead Food Network facebook TLC 2016 Pirates dramedy MSNBC Amazon Prime Epix Crackle adaptation TCA docudrama IFC book cats cinemax The Witch USA Esquire Women's History Month hist Cosplay New York Comic Con SDCC Spike Warner Bros. crime 2018 politics toy story Family Disney streaming service Paramount sequel Sony Pictures Hulu TNT BBC America Western cancelled TV series Awards 007 cancelled television Best and Worst Mindy Kaling ABC Family DirecTV Logo TCA 2017 AMC animated Fall TV HBO Animation BBC Rocketman Red Carpet Valentine's Day vampires Captain marvel Tumblr aliens period drama dceu social media Emmy Nominations Lucasfilm Pop IFC Films Arrowverse Amazon spinoff Marathons science fiction Amazon Prime Video Nominations Podcast police drama President Fantasy Disney Channel WGN Cartoon Network Mudbound supernatural Trophy Talk ESPN natural history TIFF Britbox Ghostbusters Extras golden globes game of thrones FX TV renewals Opinion robots 71st Emmy Awards 2019 Musical movies Horror PBS spy thriller Comedy Oscars TV Land cars Starz LGBT canceled latino festivals Disney Calendar Apple TV+ VICE based on movie joker VH1 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Nickelodeon tv talk doctor who Rocky ghosts Quiz video Pixar dragons technology Watching Series unscripted ABC E3 Premiere Dates NBC Character Guide witnail FXX revenge Grammys transformers Action Interview Countdown Kids & Family Shudder Schedule National Geographic HBO Max Biopics Sneak Peek Trivia TV Lionsgate spanish language anime Video Games cancelled Syfy TruTV Film 20th Century Fox Stephen King Sundance Now TBS Cannes Martial Arts cops disaster Writers Guild of America Reality Competition BET Polls and Games south america CBS All Access foreign miniseries ITV mockumentary television RT21 El Rey Winners Reality sports renewed TV shows discovery WarnerMedia free movies Certified Fresh GoT comic strong female leads Winter TV harry potter halloween thriller casting Shondaland spider-man RT History MTV American Society of Cinematographers Comedy Central Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Emmys game show SundanceTV sitcom war Tomatazos Creative Arts Emmys Spectrum Originals comiccon award winner Mystery See It Skip It Spring TV Year in Review singing competition Adult Swim CW Seed dc green book psychological thriller Music Mary Tyler Moore Black Mirror YouTube Premium LGBTQ X-Men YA Country finale true crime Comic Book Mary Poppins Returns crime thriller E! Heroines Superheroes Song of Ice and Fire GLAAD Mary poppins zero dark thirty 45 Columbia Pictures cancelled TV shows 2017 Sci-Fi ratings 2015 binge psycho Chernobyl Drama space Star Trek what to watch composers travel crime drama crossover Dark Horse Comics Nat Geo Trailer First Reviews CNN Apple Pride Month Election DC streaming service 24 frames quibi blaxploitation Walt Disney Pictures Holidays diversity Anna Paquin Superheroe cooking spain batman Sundance MCU adventure 21st Century Fox SXSW romance History zombie Brie Larson Acorn TV PaleyFest streaming APB Toys Box Office Photos series Paramount Network Film Festival theme song jamie lee curtis Lifetime Vudu Musicals Rock boxoffice canceled TV shows nature Freeform cults zombies hispanic Awards Tour Super Bowl Rom-Com biography Disney Plus YouTube Red Christmas YouTube justice league Summer teaser Marvel elevated horror richard e. Grant Elton John Ovation Fox News A&E CBS talk show Universal Comics on TV San Diego Comic-Con medical drama Teen Peacock serial killer historical drama The Arrangement CMT First Look Television Academy FOX Thanksgiving DC Universe stand-up comedy TCM USA Network Ellie Kemper children's TV slashers OWN anthology Masterpiece Netflix Set visit Showtime The CW NYCC Pet Sematary DC Comics Tarantino GIFs political drama