Yuen Woo Ping’s the Stuff of “Legend” at Fantastic Fest 2010

Yuen Woo Ping’s the Stuff of “Legend” at Fantastic Fest 2010 (photo)

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“I’m going to say some things that probably can’t be translated,” said Tim League before handing the mic over to the Drafthouse’s resident kung fu expert Lars Nilsen. “This guy has done some batshit crazy stuff.”

Of course, he was referring to Saturday night’s guest of honor Yuen Woo Ping, the master fight choreographer behind such films as “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” who was at Fantastic Fest to unveil the North American premiere of his latest directorial effort, “True Legend,” the origin story of one of his most famous films “Drunken Master.” Instead of Jackie Chan, we get Chiu Man Cheuk as Su Can, a decorated warrior who retires from the army to become a Wushu instructor and spend more time with his wife and child, passing on the governorship that’s been offered to him to his brother-in-arms Yuan (Andy On). For reasons that I never entirely understood, Yuan pays this favor back five years later by abducting Su’s family and leaving him for dead, setting Su on the path to regain his confidence and ultimately develop his own style of martial arts.

Minus the confidence regained part, Nilsen said something similar about Yuen in his introduction for the filmmaker who has spent his career “taking a style [of martial arts] and creating a brand new style.” Moments later (and only hours before he would join Elijah Wood, “Timecrimes” director Nacho Vigalondo and others on stage at the Highball for a crazy rendition of “I’ve Gotta Feeling”), The RZA came out on stage to present the Master with an even bigger sword than the one bestowed upon the Cormans the night before.

09262010_LarsNilsenYuenWoPingTrueLegend.jpg“It’s an honor for me to be here,” said the Wu-Tang Clan member who admitted he skipped school to watch Yuen’s films as a child. Through a translator, Yuen told RZA, “I want to start a new film named “Wu Tang”…I hope you’ll be in it.”

In front of a crowd that included Elvis Mitchell and Toronto Film Fest Midnight madness programmer Colin Geddes, Fantastic Fest naturally played the trailers for the Master’s “Fire Dragon,” “Iron Monkey,” and “Once Upon a Time in China” (which he choreographed for Tsui Hark) before “True Legend,” which opened on an epic war battle under a waterfall that Yuen touted before the curtain raised. Indeed, the scene and the film as a whole blends the old with the new, taking Wo Ping’s magic with wirework fight choreography and using backgrounds and techniques that could only be achieved through special effects.

Following the film, Nilsen praised Yuen for “the best use of CGI in an action movie I’ve seen yet,” to which Yuen noted that he only employs it to “get more power and energy out of a fight scene” and “not as a main need or replacement.” That was about as serious as the post-screening discussion got as the audience asked questions ranging from whether there was any actors Yuen couldn’t teach kung fu (“There’s one. He was a Chinese actor and you probably don’t know him”) to whether there was a new action star on the horizon (“There is a gap in martial arts films after Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen who is capable of both martial arts and acting potential”).

Eventually, one person asked if anyone had ever recognized Yuen on the street and challenged him to fight. “I’ve never experienced that,” said Yuen, before Nilsen jumped in without missing a beat, “If you recognized him, why would you try?”


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.