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

IFC Films Freeform Song of Ice and Fire Disney comic cancelled TV shows Cannes technology YouTube Columbia Pictures Rocky stand-up comedy TNT werewolf Fall TV anthology 45 Super Bowl cars Brie Larson Arrowverse thriller OWN Countdown teaser Election discovery 2015 dragons christmas movies Biopics free movies Polls and Games based on movie SDCC period drama doctor who video ratings green book Calendar casting Winter TV Captain marvel Thanksgiving Mary Tyler Moore Hallmark Christmas movies Film spider-man YouTube Premium diversity Mystery DirecTV Ghostbusters SundanceTV science fiction IFC Sci-Fi cancelled TV series Best and Worst Dark Horse Comics E3 south america justice league Netflix Winners TLC foreign Superheroe Oscars Valentine's Day Epix TIFF Spike game show President Black Mirror revenge zombie GIFs Drama cancelled television Infographic singing competition Premiere Dates Opinion Hallmark Women's History Month E! Chernobyl Red Carpet Esquire First Reviews golden globes Comics on TV natural history USA binge Star Wars spain supernatural Warner Bros. serial killer Mudbound The CW versus Apple TV+ award winner Comedy comics The Arrangement Vudu Amazon Prime robots Crackle Classic Film Horror Amazon VICE book Pixar GoT TruTV hispanic NYCC psychological thriller Marvel Studios jamie lee curtis PBS comiccon witnail CBS cinemax what to watch MCU BET adaptation docudrama toy story renewed TV shows quibi rotten movies we love dramedy Character Guide Musicals Podcast hist CBS All Access canceled TV shows breaking bad transformers Western travel miniseries DC Universe Writers Guild of America ABC Trailer Walt Disney Pictures streaming CNN psycho children's TV Certified Fresh WarnerMedia Stephen King TV PaleyFest TBS Rom-Com Universal theme song Britbox Acorn TV ESPN Holidays Set visit Country television A&E Nickelodeon National Geographic strong female leads Sony Pictures TV Land Box Office Nominations crossover crime thriller Awards Tour Music Emmys Mindy Kaling spy thriller Photos Lionsgate Holiday Video Games Comedy Central Fox News Disney Channel Elton John 71st Emmy Awards dceu Awards LGBT Shondaland 2018 true crime Action Marvel Tomatazos Pet Sematary Anna Paquin Turner Classic Movies Watching Series RT21 biography zombies Sundance History elevated horror Cartoon Network TCA Lifetime Christmas movies mockumentary animated Quiz Teen Tarantino harry potter Lifetime ITV crime Interview Mary poppins crime drama AMC CMT blockbuster Musical Kids & Family SXSW Disney streaming service The Walking Dead Extras See It Skip It Crunchyroll festivals cartoon Mary Poppins Returns joker Food Network The Purge Lucasfilm Ovation ghosts facebook series USA Network spanish language Logo Comic Book independent Tumblr cooking 24 frames Rocketman LGBTQ GLAAD movies Sneak Peek Pirates San Diego Comic-Con Emmy Nominations Film Festival Starz Fantasy MTV Spectrum Originals romance halloween Animation Reality Competition Disney+ Disney Plus The Witch cops Chilling Adventures of Sabrina MSNBC nature El Rey Apple TV Plus Toys disaster Trophy Talk Shudder war canceled anime ABC Family New York Comic Con mutant cats cults 21st Century Fox Nat Geo Netflix Christmas movies TV renewals Martial Arts unscripted sports Pop Apple First Look Christmas historical drama zero dark thirty blaxploitation A24 dc Masterpiece vampires kids Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Summer Heroines CW Seed American Society of Cinematographers X-Men adventure Spring TV RT History Television Academy aliens Peacock DC Comics Marvel Television sitcom FXX cancelled Marathons finale composers Disney Plus batman sequel Schedule medical drama Paramount Network slashers YouTube Red romantic comedy WGN Superheroes NBC richard e. Grant Bravo Cosplay police drama Trivia Grammys Year in Review Ellie Kemper 2019 DC streaming service Amazon Prime Video spinoff HBO tv talk HBO Max Star Trek political drama Adult Swim Reality FX Hulu 2016 TCM Showtime Creative Arts Emmys BBC Sundance Now Family Turner 20th Century Fox TCA 2017 indie latino Binge Guide game of thrones Paramount Pride Month social media politics screenings space YA talk show 2020 Rock 007 FOX APB BBC America 2017 boxoffice DGA VH1 Syfy