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Yuen Woo Ping Picks His Five Favorite Fight Scenes

Yuen Woo Ping Picks His Five Favorite Fight Scenes (photo)

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Though he’s hardly a household name (at least in the United States) it’s no exaggeration to say that Yuen Woo Ping is one of the most influential filmmakers on the planet. As the director of 1978’s “Snake in Eagle’s Shadow,” Yuen helped launch the career of Jackie Chan and define his unique style of comedic kung fu. He went on to direct or choreograph the fights in almost every major Chinese martial arts film of the last quarter century, and when he brought his unique style to America in “The Matrix” in 1999, he revolutionized the way Hollywood action films were made for years. Yuen Woo Ping’s new film as both director and fight choreographer is called “True Legend,” but it’s a title that might just as well be bestowed upon Yuen himself.

In honor of “True Legend”‘s U.S. release this week, we asked Yuen to do something even more difficult than fighting a man while standing on a bamboo pole over a pit of fire: pick just five favorite fight scenes from his incredible thirty-plus year career. As you’ll see, he cheated a little bit on the last one, but with so many remarkable sequences to his credit, how can you blame him?

Below you’ll find clips of all five of Yuen’s picks, along with his commentary on each scene. Here’s how he introduced his list:

Yuen Woo Ping: “This is a difficult question to answer because every movie means something special to me. If I am asked to pick five favorites out of them all they are (not necessary in this order):”

1. Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) Versus Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi)
From “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000)
Directed by Ang Lee

YWP: “‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ contains diversified fighting styles. Some are more realistic and some are more poetic. Each of them serves a narrative purpose. In fact, I also greatly enjoy those poetic ones, like the bamboo-top fights, which aren’t common in my past movies.”


2. Wong Fei-Hung (Jet Li) Versus Commander Lan (Donnie Yen)
From “Once Upon a Time in China II” (1992)
Directed by Tsui Hark

YWP: “The stick fight between a traditional bamboo one and a “wet cloth-stick” in “Once Upon A Time In China II” was also very memorable and innovative. It features the notion of utilizing common objects in daily life as weapons. Visually it is also very fun to watch.”


3. Chen Zhen (Jet Li) Versus The Entire Japanese Dojo
From “Fist of Legend” (1994)
Directed by Gordon Chan

YWP: “Jet Li’s portrayal of Chen Zhen is different from Bruce Lee’s approach for the same character. Bruce Lee is a master martial artist; his style is straightforward, practical and classic. My design for Jet Li was more modern and visually interesting.”



4. Iron Monkey (Yu Rongguang) and Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen) Versus Hin Hung (Yen Shi-Kwan)
From “Iron Monkey” (1993)
Directed by Yuen Woo Ping

YWP: “Donnie Yen is very good at his footwork. So in ‘Iron Monkey,’ I intentionally focused on his kicks. Normally I prefer choreographing one-on-one fights but Donnie and Yu Rongguang are both experienced martial artists. Directing ‘Iron Monkey’ was a heartwarming experience. And as a whole, the movie gave me the chance to focus on actions as well as emotions.”


5. The Entire Movie
“Drunken Master” (1978)
Directed by Yuen Woo Ping

YWP: “In ‘Drunken Master,’ we were trying some new ideas by putting kung-fu and comedy together. At that time, many action movies were too focused on violence and bloody combat. I wanted to make the fighting comic without losing the intensity and the sense of danger. It was an experiment that eventually became a trend.”

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.