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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…