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) 87%

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

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