Great Moments in Contemporary Fight Choreography


I grew up with martial arts in my life. Also, bad science fiction films.

Our family didn’t have gis (uniforms) in our closets or wooden weapons in the umbrella holder, but we the subtle philosophies could be heard in my fathers teachings. He had been introduced to the doctrines of fighting at an early age when his mother began dating a golden gloved boxer.

This inevitably lead to his boxing career in the Navy and his study of martial arts around the world via various Naval ports. Naturally my future fascinations would become eastern philosophies, martial arts, Bruce Lee specifically and fight choreography.

One of the downfalls of American film culture is the lack of acknowledgment of fight and stunt choreographers. Action movies literally hang on the shoulders of these fellows and a low population of people could tell you who coordinated the action scenes. The likely nameable man on this would be Woo-ping Yuen who choreographed The Matrix trilogy and Kill Bill.

Some of these choreographers you have to dig deep on the internet just to find out their names and two of them I couldn’t even discover. Wikipedia and IMDB seldom list the fight choreographers for films and I have yet to understand why these men don’t get the recognition they deserve. Asian culture is usually keen on this but some smaller budget films still forgo the accreditation.

Show some respect.

Bay Rong aka Clash
Choreographer: Unknown, possibly Eric Nguyen (lead male and Wushu expert)
Fact: Thanh Van Ngo (lead female) is actually a well-known Vietnamese singer.
Notable Maneuvers: Punch Kick combo at :27, leg sweep at :31, roll punch at :39, everything from :40-:49.


Taken

Choreographer: Olivier Schneider
Other Work: Transporter, Unknown, Heavenly Sword (Video Game)
Future Work: Safe House
Fact: The fighting techniques are based on maneuvers found in the Israeli Krav Maga fighting art which focuses on real-world situations, efficient and versatile counter-attacks and ease of learning.
Note: I couldn’t find the kitchen scene I was looking for so I present to you a compilation.
Notable Maneuvers: Every throat punch.


Quantum of Solace

Choreographer: Gary Powell
Other Work: Edge of Darkness, The Legend of Zorro
Future Work: 47 Ronin
Personal Quote: “People always think stuntmen are fearless. But I’m scared of a lot of the stuff I do, and if I come across a stuntman who says he’s fearless, I actually won’t work with him, because he’s got no sense of danger.”
Note: Sorry about the audio but you can still see Daniel Craigs ‘I’m killing a man and I don’t give a fuck’ face.
Notable Maneuvers: Bond knifes the guy in the neck at :48 with a small, almost unnoticeable, movement.


Kill Bill Vol. 1

Choreography: Woo-ping Yuen
Other Work: The Matrix Trilogy, Kung Fu Hustle
Future Work: The Grandmasters
Fact: Yuen was the stunt coordinator for such random films as Hackers, Judge Dredd and Goldeneye.
Notable Maneuvers: Groin kick at :44.


Bourne Identity

Choreographer: Nick Powell
Other Work: The Last Samurai, Cinderella Man
Future Work: The Three Musketeers
Fact: Powell won the fight choreographer of the year for his work on The Bourne Identity where he choreographed and shot all of the fights.
Notable Maneuvers: Arm trapping at :53. The head/body dodging at :58, blocking at 1:22.


Oldboy

Choreographer: Ji Jung-Hyeon
Other Work: A Bittersweet Life, Musa, The Restless, Mongol
Future Work: Sadly, he died on the set of The Good, The Bad And The Weird.
Fact: It reportedly took seventeen attempts and three days to finish the hallway fight scene.
Notable Maneuvers:  Dodge and hammer to leg at :31, knife to the back at 1:10, playing dead at 1:25, the boxing jab at 2:19.


Cowboy Bebop

Choreographer: Unknown
Fact: Spike Spiegel’s (blue suit) fighting style is based on Jeet Kune Do, the martial art developed by Bruce Lee that combines multiple martial art styles – and some Fencing footwork – into one cohesive philosophy.
Notable Maneuvers: Kick to hook combo at :12, slipping inside of his defenses at :18, ear box at :32, blocking at 1:17, arm toss at 1:21, elbows to face at 1:57.

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One Comment on “Great Moments in Contemporary Fight Choreography”

  1. 10.2.11 at 3:38 PM #

    As a huge HK Cinema fan, I completely understand what you’re saying about the lack of recognition the choreographers receive. You always see the actors front and center, but no one cares to dig up the people who created these huge, dynamic fight sequences. Thanks for posting this.

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