Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Dream Project: Jackie Chan’s “Time Belt”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I spent this afternoon pounding out an idea for a Jackie Chan “dream project” with my buddy Mencius.

It all started when I asked my buddy:

“If you had Jackie Chan in his physical prime, what movie would you put him in?”

Surprisingly, my answer to this question was rather straightforward and simple, being that of Armour of God III or something like it.

To be honest, I’d still like to see a 3rd Armour of God, as I’ve always felt it could be a good “farewell” movie for Jackie.

Getting back to the matter at hand, my buddy Mencius had something a little more off the wall in mind, something more unique; at least when it comes to Jackie Chan movies.

Mencius’ idea was that of a time travel adventure film where Jackie, playing a kung fu expert/dopey non-hero that accidentally finds himself hurtling through exotic time periods and locales.

Okay maybe the plot isn't totally unique. But The Myth sucked, so it doesn't count.

While I was initially turned off by the idea, largely due to it’s lack of a concrete source of conflict, I found myself revisiting the idea throughout the day, constantly feeding Mencius ideas that I thought could make for a fun movie.

The first idea I felt needed to come into play, was that of a group of villains chasing Jackie through time.

Basically, Jackie is like a janitor in some time travel laboratory, and then a bunch of thieves break in trying to steal the time travel gear; whereupon Jackie accidentally activates the device and gets lost in time.

Using a device with extremely limited time travel capability, the bad guys chase Jackie through time, showing up for action beats throughout Jackie’s adventures.

Mencius and I didn’t really get around to finalizing anything for this idea, but at the end of the day we came up with at least 2 locations the film would visit, namely ancient China, and Victorian England.

Naturally, Jackie would run afoul of plenty of thugs and bad guys in these places, leading to much brawling, yelling of “I don’t want any trouble!”, and weaponization of household items.

In my mind, given that this in fact a “dream” project, and can really include as many stars (in their physical primes) as I’d like, the cast of the movie would be fucking epic.

Imagine this:

Jackie goes back in time to old timey China.

He meets Wong Fei Hung, played by Jet Li.

They fight, and it most certainly doesn’t suck like in The Forbidden Kingdom.

Somewhere along the line, Jackie meets a rotund butcher played by Sammo Hung, and his fiery cohort, played by Yuen Biao.

Pictured: Comedy and Action, GOLD.

Naturally, they all become buddies.

At the end of it all, Jackie, Sammo, Yuen and Jet Li all join forces to take on the local Axe Gang, every member of which is played by a notable Hong Kong villain actor.

Imagine a crowd fight with these 4 taking on the likes of Dick Wei, Billy Chow, Ken Lo, Chin Siu Ho, Fan Siu Wong, Wu Jing, Xing Yu and Al FUCKING Leong, all at the same fuckin’ time.

Hell, I'd pay money JUST to see Jackie take on Al Leong...

Now imagine Jackie, Yuen and Sammo travel to Victorian England, only to be immediately accosted by a thuggish Jason Statham.

After escaping The Transporter, the trio run afoul of the local authorities, the leader of which happens to be Darren Shahlavi AKA Twister:

Now imagine the rest of the movie includes fights with the pursuing bad guys played by the likes of Scott Adkins, Cyril Raffaelli, Marko Zaror, Benny Urquidez, and Brad Allan with DONNIE FUCKING YEN serving as the “final boss.”

Tell me, would this not be the coolest movie ever!?

Anyway, in tribute to the classic Channel 101 show of the same name, I feel it’s only appropriate that this “dream project” be titled:

Jackie Chan’s “Time Belt”

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Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hulk Hogan Fan Art!

WHATCHA GONNA' DO!!!??

Now before you go ahead and start shitting on my artistic talents, or lack thereof; let it be known, the drawing above was not made by the Azn Badger.

I went out to dinner with some friends this evening, and it just so happens that the restaurant we went to caters to the family atmosphere by allowing children to post drawings on the walls.

While I can’t confirm whether or not the unbelievably awesome rendering of Hulk Hogan at the top of this post is in fact the product of a child’s artistic merit, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t put a smile on my face.

Man, I really hope this was really made by a goofy kid, and not some hipster motherfucker trying to be “ironic.”

*Sigh* I don't even know what to say anymore...

One really cool thing worth noting about the drawing above, is that if you look at the top right corner of it, you’ll see a little post-it note with the word “Winner” written on it.

While I can only speculate as to what the reward for producing a drawing worthy of the “Winner” post-it at the little restaurant would be, the simple fact that a portrait of fuckin’ Hulk Hogan could win such a contest is enough to make me think there’s still hope for today’s youth.

Anyway, I had a long day, so this is the best I’ve got for a post tonight.

See you tomorrow!

Filed under: Uncategorized, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Azn Badger = Hypocrite

The Azn Badger has been feeling a little hypocritical as of late.

Despite my general disdain for the UFC/MMA culture, I’ve found myself playing the demo for UFC: Undisputed 2010 pretty much every day this week.

I know, I know:

“How can a hardcore boxing fan that talks shit about the UFC all the time allow himself to support the organization by playing it’s official videogame!?”

Well, A): I’ve never had anything bad to say about the actual sport of MMA, only the culture and obnoxious fanbase that seems to have sprung up as a result of it’s ascension into the mainstream.

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but...

And B): Chill out, dick wad.  It’s just a videogame, and a fairly good one at that.

To be fair, I used to play the previous iteration of the game with my roommates for shits and giggles.

Only 1 out of the 3 of us (the one with legitimate interest in the UFC) actually took the time to learn how to play, so for the most part the matches boiled down to little more than button mashing sessions not unlike a round of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

"AND IT'S ALLLLLLLLLLLL OVERRRRR!!!!!!!"

At the time, I used to watch a fair amount of UFC, usually in support B.J. Benn, (he’s a Hawaiian pro athlete, therefore he’s worth my time) as well as for the social value it presented in me in hanging out with my roommate.

Though I no longer have roommates to play games or watch cagefighting with, for some reason I feel like I’m mentally in just about the same place that I was back then.

That is to say:

I’m not exactly the most cerebral of people these days.

I would probably shit myself with glee if I had one of those bubble thingies right now...

As with most things these days, I blame work; as it has retarded my brain functions to the point of making games like Undisputed 2010 seem like the coolest ever made, and dare I say; potentially worth buying.

Did you hear that?

That was the sound of Hell freezing over.

While I still don’t have a clue how to play the demo properly, (the command list in the options screen is like 50 pages long) the pick up and play factor has been a godsend in terms of keeping me sane this week.

I don’t know if it’s just the 60 hour work weeks or what, but I just can’t seem to find time for more involved games like Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I want to finish Batman, but for whatever reason I just feel “too busy” to play it.

Batman: Great for Azn Badger on 3 day weekends, too "smart" for him during 60 hour work weeks.

UFC gives me an experience that can be over and done with inside of 5 minutes.

While I’ve never been one to seek out instant gratification in my games, (if it’s any indication, Demon’s Souls was my 2nd PS3 game) at this point in time, I think it’s the only kind of gaming entertainment I can handle.

Though I’m legitimately excited to try games like Valkyria Chronicles, games that require a high-degree of time investment and involvement from the player; the more hours I put in at work, the less I see myself being able to fully enjoy a game like that.

In my current mental state, I'd probably just try and bumrush my way through every mission...

Anyway, I’m beat to shit, (anus still recovering…) so that’s all I’ve got for tonight.

Chances are I’ll pick up UFC at some point, though I assure I’ll do so grudgingly, and while mumbling under my breath that boxing is the superior and more gentlemanly sport.

Unfortunately the new Fight Night Champion doesn’t come out until next year, so for now I’m going with UFC.

Either that or Splatterhouse, ’cause Splatterhouse was the shit back in the day, and from what I’ve read; the new one ain’t so bad.

Plus it’s bloody as fuck and probably as cerebral as your average UFC fan.

Haha!  BURN.

Filed under: Boxing, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Miguel Cotto: I Worry Some Times…

I worry about Miguel Cotto.

Ever since the first time I saw him fight, back in ’05 against Muhammad Abdullaev, he was supposed to be my guy in boxing.

He was supposed to be the fighter whose career I would fervently follow and admire, win or lose.

He wasn’t supposed to be the fighter I was always worrying about.

Miguel Cotto is, in many ways; the quintessential Puerto Rican fighter.

While his style consists of a combination of pressure-based infighting and skillful counter-punching, (backed by an impressive jab) everything he does has a “swagger” to it, a sense of theatricality and flash.

Unfortunately, it is this “swagger” that has always made me worry about Miguel Cotto.

Boxing is a sport that is, above all; won through skillful observation and analysis.

Occasionally, a fighter will come around that can overcome their opponents with pure athleticism and raw physicality I.E. Roy Jones Jr., but in most cases it is a fighter’s mind, timing and reflexes that win the day.

It is a sport wherein predictability and tendencies are a fighter’s worst enemy.

Miguel Cotto has quirks, and they aren’t the good kind.

Most of these quirks are fairly minor, and aren’t really an issue, such as his tendency to cross his legs or readjust his footing prior to stepping in.

The most visible of these quirks however, is one that seems to surface in-between exchanges, particularly when Cotto parries, or is caught by a right hand.

For whatever reason, Cotto has a tendency to tuck his chin against his left shoulder, drop his left arm to his waist, and cup his right glove against his temple.

Don't even try to tell me that's a shell defense...

My theory as to it’s existence, is that Cotto has a habit of “hanging on to” his perceptions and visualizations of the fight.

That is to say, the image in his head of what he should have done tends to linger and cause him to physically carry out the appropriate action just a moment later.

I swear I’m not a psyche student.  Scout’s honor.

In my eyes, it’s an immensely visible, and more importantly; exploitable tendency that I’ve always feared would lead to Cotto getting steamrolled by aggressive fighters with accurate punches and/or high workrates.

Oh wait, that happened already.

Twice.

Now don’t get me wrong, I started out this post being pro-Cotto, and I intend to end it that way too, but it goes without saying that Miguel Cotto is a fighter that, at this stage in his career; is all too vulnerable.

Just to remind everyone, he’s only lost twice.

The first time, against the bionic Mexican, Antonio Margarito; he may have been facing a man with loaded gloves.

The second time, against Filipino phenom Manny Pacquiao; he was facing one of the best (active) fighters alive.

Neither loss should stand as a condemnation of Cotto’s standing as a fighter, however both losses were very hard to watch.

Not because he was pummeled so horribly, (he was) but because of the way he handled it.

Early in Miguel Cotto’s career, as a Junior Welterweight, he made his mark in the sport by being a “comeback kid” of sorts.

He was a dynamic and explosive fighter that had a reputation of being floored in his fights, only to get up and mount punishing offensives that would send his opponents packing.

After Cotto moved up in weight to Welterweight, a weight he claimed was healthier for him, his somewhat questionable chin seemed become less of an issue.

Personally, I feel that Cotto will never find an ideal weight class in boxing, (he’s too short for Junior Middleweight, and not all that big for a Welter) his chin will always be an iffy subject,  it just wasn’t until years later that we saw it tested again.

In his fight against the talented, but RETARDED, Zab Judah; Cotto took a monster left uppercut to the jaw during the first round that had him reeling.

He never went down, and he went on to win the fight by KO, (though Judah’s ADHD may have had more to do with that than anything else) but the point was, he was seriously hurt in that fight, and it showed.

Hell, he only punched Zab in the balls like, 30 times that night, sounds like the behavior of a hurt and/or pissed off fighter to me.

The next time we saw him seriously hurt, he was being swept away by the human tidal wave known as Antonio Margarito.

Pictured: The Bionic Mexican, Antonio Margarito

I remember the Cotto/Margarito fight vividly.

I was watching it with my parents, and my dad was rooting for Margarito, while I was backing the Puerto Rican.

My dad and I both knew Cotto was probably going to lose, but unlike my dad; I had a personal stake in the fight.

I wanted Cotto to win.

That’s what made it so hard when my guy looked the slickest he ever had in the first 5-6 rounds, only to slowly, and decisively; get clubbed to death against the corner post.

I remember my heart sinking the moment I saw Cotto take a knee without taking a punch.

It was like my generation’s “No Mas” moment.

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but it was important to me.

I wasn’t mad at Cotto for giving up, I was just blown away by the fact that actually got up and tried to fight.

It was stupid.

Pictured: An Idiot. It's Ricky Hatton, look him up.

When Arturo Gatti, or Jake LaMotta, or Tony Zale did their thing, nobody could stop them because they couldn’t stop themselves.

In their prime, you could beat any one of those guys over the head with a shovel, and somehow their mind, their body, no matter how fragmented and crippled; would find a way to stand in front of you and just keep swinging.

Hell, they used to say that Gatti was no good unless he was bleeding, God rest his soul.

Good thing he was usually swollen and/or bleeding on his way down the ramp.

Pictured: Arturo Gatti BEFORE the fight.

Seeing Miguel Cotto stand up and expect to turn the tide, after 4-5 rounds of awkwardly circling and half-heartedly jabbing at Antonio Margarito, was just plain sick.

When Miguel Cotto gets hurt, he makes mistakes.

When fighters make mistakes, they get hurt even worse.

Dissecting Miguel Cotto’s behavior while in “survival mode,” is painfully simple, even for a armchair quarterback like me.

Keep in mind, we’ve only really seen Cotto in this way on two occasions, though in this case, two times is twice too many.

Everything about his fighting reverts back to his quirks.

In short, his boxer’s mind sort of fizzles out, and all he’s left with are the comforts of his muscle memories.

Only problem is, most of his muscle memories are wrong.

He crosses his legs, he crouches too low, he retreats straight back, and he does that weird thing where he drops his hands, all while staying on his feet, but doing very little to keep himself in the fight.

Well, short of this anyway.

There are situations when the trainer should step in and stop the fight, and both of Miguel Cotto’s losses were those sort of situations.

Against the genetic freak, Manny Pacquiao, Cotto was in serious trouble for most of the fight.

In the early rounds, he did alright, landing the first real decisive blow of the fight, (a jab) and maintaining a degree of composure for the most part.

I was non-partisan for the Cotto/Pacquiao fight.

I remember watching the fight in a bar with some friends and saying to myself in the third round:

“Aw fuck, his feet are all over the place.  Pac-Man’s runnin’ circles around him.”

And it was true, Cotto was caught on far too many occasions, clumsily trying to reset his feet as he tends to do, while Pacquiao would dart in from the clever angles that have always made him dangerous.

This, is not one of those angles.

Let it be said also, that Cotto’s forehead centric guard is tailor made to make him eat straight left hands to the jaw.

Not a good thing when that’s your opponent’s money punch.

After Cotto went down, he was out of the fight.

Perhaps if he had better powers of recovery, or hadn’t been fighting as aggressive and accurate a puncher as Pacquaio, he may have been able to regain his senses and get back in the fight.

This was not the case however, and, while Cotto managed to keep Pac-Man at bay with the occasional stiff jab off the ropes every now and again, his legs spent the whole night fighting a losing battle against Pacquiao’s constant pressure.

It was truly unfortunate, for me anyway, to have had to watch Cotto stumble around, making all the same mistakes as he had in the latter rounds of the Margarito fight, for almost the whole of 12 rounds.

On a side note, I got a similar feeling of disgust watching Yuri Foreman hobble around on one leg for 3 rounds during Cotto’s most recent fight.

Mercante: "C'mon kid, suck it up." Kind of hard to do when YOU HAVE ONE LEG. Dumbass...

The Cotto/Pacquiao fight should have been stopped in the 9th round, or perhaps even sooner; end of story.

Maybe Cotto’s “survival mode” is just too good for his own safety.

Maybe he does just enough to keep the ref happy, and his opponent at bay in the hopes of hearing the final bell.

Maybe it’s his own damn fault he doesn’t just get knocked the fuck out and call it an early night.

I don’t know what to think of Miguel Cotto when he’s hurt, and all of the familiar quirks and bad habits boil to the surface.

I would never go so far as to say that Cotto’s days are numbered, and that his career is on the downward spiral, however that doesn’t keep me from worrying.

I’ll never stop watching all of Miguel Cotto’s fights, and he’ll never stop being my guy in boxing.

I am a Miguel Cotto fan, and by golly, I worry some times…

Filed under: Boxing, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VII – Mr. Yen, to the Future and Beyond!

"I want you... to suck my cock."

The year is 2010, and as of last year, Donnie Yen is now the most, or is among the most highly paid actors in Hong Kong.

Since finishing Ip Man in 2008, Donnie Yen has gone on to release 5 films, 3 of which being high-profile blockbusters.

The first of these was Bodyguards and Assassins, an action-drama set in turn-of-the-century Hong Kong.

With an all-star, ensemble cast, the film sported impressive production values, perhaps most notably the set, which consisted of a brick for brick recreation of several blocks of 1906 Hong Kong.

The film is essentially split into two halves, with the first being drama-heavy and ultimately responsible for setting the stakes, and the second being action-heavy, taking all the pre-established pieces of the plot from the first half and running wild them non-stop until the final reel.

While occasionally weighed-down by protracted bouts of melodrama, particularly in the film’s action-heavy second half, the film saves itself by providing an impressive level of characterization to what at first glance would appear to be an overwhelmingly bloated cast of characters.

Despite my ignorance in regards to pronunciation and recognition of Chinese names, I never found myself puzzled as to who was who or how every character related to one another.

Donnie Yen has a small but important role as a down-on-his-luck gambler seeking redemption for his past sins.

The role is minimal, with Donnie Yen being used primarily as an action element among the players, however he does have some truly effective dramatic moments.

The highlight of his performance, and perhaps the entire film however, is of course, a fight:

The above bout between Donnie Yen and former MMA champion, Cung Le, was reportedly re-shot and re-choreographed sometime after filming had officially wrapped.

Apparently Mr. Yen was unhappy with his performance, and thusly organized a reshoot, without supplemental pay or benefits.

The result is a fight that, while inspired, and certainly beyond the norm in terms of choreography, is somewhat uneven and ultimately, unbalanced.

The parkour element of the fight was brief, but effective, with much of the camerawork being downright spectacular, particularly when use of steadicam is used to weave between bystanders.

The sparring between the two players is crisp and on point for the most part, with great sound effects and music to back it up, but the MMA style joint locks and grappling seem largely out of place given the time period.

Perhaps most disappointing though, is the awkward use of wirework.

Though I’ve said before that wuxia isn’t really my thing, the fact of the matter is, that if one is going to incorporate fantastical wirework into a film, it’s implementation should be consistent rather than sporadic.

In all, the fight was a highlight for this film, however it doesn’t rank very high on Donnie Yen’s resume.

And as previously established, it's a pretty long resume. Yes, they boned.

Donnie Yen’s next film, also released in 2009, was the 90’s wuxia throwback, 14 Blades.

I have not seen this film, so I feel I have no right to comment on it in detail, however I will say this:

I have very little desire to see this film anyway.

In fact there are many films Donnie Yen has made, particularly in the 2000’s, that I have almost no interest in seeing.

As I mentioned in previous articles in this blog, Wilson Yip was a blessing on Donnie Yen’s career.

In between the classics that Yip and Yen were cranking out in the late 2000’s, Donnie Yen also released a number of smaller, poorly regarded films, most of which were, you guessed it: wuxia films.

Twins Effect I and II… ‘Nuff said.

Seven Swords seemed overblown and lacked the proper “Yen Quotient.”

An Empress and the Warriors didn’t peak my interest in the least, given the plot and Donnie Yen’s presence as a character who exists for no other reason than to hit people.

And then there’s Painted Skin

Well, Painted Skin just plain looked like ass.

AAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

I haven’t seen any of these films, including 14 Blades, but to my knowledge they have all received poor reviews, and while impressive to look at in some cases, and not terrible films in their own right, they simply don’t offer the Donnie Yen experience I’m looking for.

THIS on the other hand.... No, wait, this sucked too...

Despite being of the relatively advanced age of 46, Mr. Yen remains the top dog in terms of Hong Kong action cinema, with many of his upcoming films having him cast in action-heavy roles.

As I type this, Donnie Yen has more than 3 major films in the works,  not the least of which being Ip Man 2, which was recently released in theaters.

The film reunites nearly all of the principle cast from the previous entry in the series, however this time the story has moved to 1930’s Hong Kong, and includes Sammo Hung in a co-starring role as an overbearing Hung Gar master at odds with Ip Man.

Highlights in the film look to be a long overdue rematch between Yen and Hung following the impressive nature of their brawl in SPL, as well as what appears to be Sammo and Donnie pitting their form based Hung Gar and Wing Chun against English screen-fighter, Darren Shahlavi‘s more fluid Western boxing.

Sadly, from what I’ve read, Fan Siu Wong‘s role in the film is very small, and totally devoid of action.

A shame really, as I was very impressed by his performance in the first film, both as an actor and a combatant.

Although I can't say the same for his performance in this film.

Also on Donnie Yen’s plate for this year, is Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, a truly bizarre semi-sequel to Bruce Lee‘s 1972 classic, Fist of Fury.

I call the film bizarre due to the fact that the protagonist of the first film, Chen Zhen, was supposed to have gone down in a hail of gunfire at the end of Lee’s film, and yet, based on recent teaser footage, the sequel appears to have Yen cast not only as the same character, but as a masked vigilante practitioner of parkour.

Though I can’t say my hopes are up for The Return of Chen Zhen, it’s this continued process of adaptation and innovation that, in my eyes, keeps Mr. Yen’s performances from going stale.

That, and lots and lots of hair spray.

Despite being discovered  in the 80’s by one of the great directors and choreographers of our time, Yuen Woo Ping, Donnie Yen would not rise to prominence in the industry until more than a decade later, well after he had already begun to direct and choreograph his own films.

Unlike so many screen-fighters, in particular Jet Li, Donnie Yen has proven himself to be a student of the game.

Beyond being a fantastic martial artist, he has also displayed a remarkable sense of awareness in regards the kinetics of filmmaking.

Truly, particularly in recent years, he has come to embody the role not of screen-fighter, but that of a physical actor.

Some men, when placed into a fight scene, do nothing but hit their marks, keep to the beat, and wow with their physical prowess.

Donnie Yen does all of these things while injecting a sense of dramatic weight to his actions.

You care when he throws his punches and more importantly, you know why he chose to throw the punch the way he did.

Donnie Yen is of the rare breed of men that can not only teach, but also do.

Not only that, he is of the even rarer breed that can do both well.

At 46 I understand that Donnie Yen most likely has maybe 3-4 years left in him to produce truly great physical performances in his career.

Unlike Jackie Chan however, I believe Donnie Yen’s vanity and pride will keep him from stretching his fighting career beyond his means.

It saddens me to know that I was among those that overlooked Mr. Yen until such a late stage in his career, only to find that he was already beginning down the road to the inevitable end of his career.

I guess I should look at it not as me having missed the first 17 years of Yen’s career, but as me having witnessed the past 9, which is more than most can say.

I look forward to whatever the Mr. Yen is able to produce in the coming years.

Here’s hoping we’ll all be “wowed” one last time by the greatness that truly is, Donnie Yen.

Thank you to all who took the time to read this epic tribute of all I know and love about Donnie Yen!

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VI – Old Man Yen

Allow me to be serious for a moment.

In 2008, Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen gave us the film Ip Man, a heavily fictionalized biographical-account of the life of the Wing Chun grandmaster of the same name.

Donnie Yen was 45 years old.

Throughout his career, Donnie Yen’s acting has been criticized for consisting of little more than him preening, posing, and more often than not, flexing his way through his films.

Yeah, kind of like that.

Ip Man gave us our first glimpse of a more restrained, more mature Donnie Yen.

Gone were the trademark leaping back-kicks. Gone were the cocky, “bring it on” eyebrows.

Even the cheesy windmill uppercut feints failed to make the cut.

Okay, that's not really a feint, but whatever.

Donnie Yen was 45 and finally ready to act his age.

The result was a gorgeous film that earned 2 awards out of 12 nominations at the 28th Hong Kong Film Awards.

One of those awards went to Sammo Hung for Best Action Choreography.

The other went to the production itself, as it just happened to be the award for Best Film.

While much of the film’s success could be attributed to Chinese nationalism (the plot concerns the Japanese occupation of China) and passion for martial arts culture, it’s hard to deny that the film is a solid contribution to the action-drama genre.

Production of Ip Man brought Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung together for the second time in their careers.

The first time was in SPL, where the two would clash onscreen for a climactic battle that, amazingly, matched the intensity of Yen’s alleyway duel with Wu Jing just minutes earlier within the same film. (See “Donnie Yen: Part IV – The Real Donnie Yen”)

This time around however, Hung would serve as fight choreographer, bringing his unerring cinematographic eye and untold years of experience to the production.

The above sequence, from the film in which Sammo Hung directed, choreographed, and co-starred, Wheels on Meals, (the third film to include the Peking Opera Trio of Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao) showcases the first of two epic battles between Jackie Chan, and American kickboxer, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez.  This sequence is widely regarded as one of the finest sequences in screen fighting history, and is a testament to Mr. Hung’s skills behind the camera.

How’s that for credentials?

Seriously, do NOT fuck with this man.

Hung’s attention to detail and penchant for injecting his fights with realistic passion and violence made him perfect for the job.

Ip Man gave Hung the opportunity to explore and put on display a number of different martial arts, most notably, Wing Chun.

The simple fact that he was able to convey each of these styles largely through pure physical expression, rather than superfluous exposition, is a testament to Mr. Hung’s skills as a choreographer.

Donnie Yen’s movements as Ip Man clearly reflect the Wing Chun principles of countering and establishing a “line” with one’s opponent.

Fan Siu Wong’s character, Jin, effectively portrays a practitioner of Northern Kung Fu, relying on solid stances and aggressive circular strikes.

Hiroyuki Ikeuchi’s General Miura, as well as the other Japanese characters, all include the straight punches and mechanical blocking motions of Karate.

Mr. Hung managed to communicate all of this through nothing but body language.

"So... You wanna' like, do it?"

It’s interesting to note that, stylistically speaking, Donnie Yen, while versatile and athletic, is not really the first person that came to my mind in casting a master of Wing Chun.

For one thing, Mr. Yen has never studied Wing Chun, and for another, the fighting style he employed in most of his films prior to this is contrary to the principles of Wing Chun in that it utilizes wide, flashy kicks to the head, techniques Wing Chun places little emphasis on.

But that was the old Donnie Yen, not the old Donnie Yen.

As you can plainly see, Mr. Yen managed to get the hang of Wing Chun pretty handily.

Despite this, another challenge for Mr. Yen, and Mr. Hung for that matter, was in staging and planning the choreography in such a way that it matched the tone of every scene.

The sequence above took place at the end of the first half of the film, during which the tone is bright and lively, and the drama is largely restricted to standard genre fare I.E. squabbles between rival martial arts schools and principles.

The sequence below however, takes place midway through the second half of Ip Man, within which the tone, and color palette for that matter, become engulfed with darkness.  As a result, the choreography becomes harsher, more violent, and altogether more intense.  Even the soundtrack reflects this.

A tip of the hat to Mr. Yen and Mr. Hung…  and a pat on the back to all those who may have been injured during the filming of this sequence.

Regardless of how much praise I shower upon it, Ip Man is not a great film.

It is however, a great kung fu movie.

Every cliche and trope you would expect to find in an entry from the genre is present here in some form, and I think that was the point.

Ip Man doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, it merely tries it’s best to give it a spit shine and more importantly, do it with heart.

Sure, the story can be hokie at times.

Sure, the script was largely forgettable.

I’d sooner accept both of those shortcomings in exchange for a decent film with a handful of scenes where Donnie Yen beats people like a fucking drum.

You know you'd buy it...

End serious moment.

Well okay, maybe that wasn’t all that serious, but hey, I tried.

Check back for the exciting conclusion to my MASSIVE tribute to Donnie Yen, in “Part VII – Mr. Yen to the Future and Beyond!”

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