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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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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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