I wrote an article recently about martial arts actors and their lesser known projects. Some of the comments reminded me of other noteworthy stars. Well, some of them are well-known all over the world and their pictures are splashed all over the place (or in Donnie Yen's case, baring his chest on his site and various magazine covers). In this article I will talk about Donnie Yen, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung. (Note: If you don't give a hoot about going through this short list in ordr, click on each name to jump to the relevant section).
So, what did these guys do before they became the hottest foot-flicking, fist-waving martial artist on the block?
Donnie Yen have come a long way indeed. If you read his biography, you'll see that his life experiences range from getting the know-how from the martial arts masters in Beijing to making gushworthy action flicks in Hong Kong. And now he's a bit of a world renowned celebrity, directing his own movies to boot.
I must admit I have not seen too many of his early ones. I saw Drunken Tai Chi, which was good fun. The plot was an average run-of-the-mill avenge me family or else number. But what was worthwhile the interesting action bits. Where tai chi is concerned, I was more of Dacascos/Jet Li's Wong Fei Hong fan myself. The point is that this movie helped the actor make a name for himself and showoff his talent. Speaking of tai chi, another movie that I fondly recall is Once Upon a Time in China II. I always thought of Wong Fei Hong(Jet Li) as the be-all-and-end-all of all heroes. He'll set everything right, no one can beat him I told myself. Thus, they had to come up with a nasty enough opposition to the hero's skilled movies i.e. Donnie Yen as the swift and smooth General Nap Lan.
Check out one of this superb fight scenes here.
You couldn't watch an old Jackie Chan movie without coming across this name. Yuen Biao was the spunky, youthful face amongst all the more grown-up mischief-makers in those movies. He doesn't seem to be too famous outside Asia but he definitely has a strong fan following there.
Here's a bit of trivia to pique your interest: did you know he was a stunt double for Bruce Lee in Game of Death? Did you just say "Whoa"? I know I did. My favorite movies include the Lucky Star series, Wheels on Meals and Project A. All of them are ventures involving Jackie Chan. It's the usual fun and games involving well-choreographed action bits. Wheels on Meals is especially fun since it's got Benny Urquidez as the creepy bad guy. Fights with him almost always seem like epic battles it always comes frighteningly close to Urquidez winning.
Catch a glimpse of his fighting style here.
He is another familiar face from old Jackie Chan movies. Currently he is famous in most countries as that “cool Chinese cop” from Martial Law. While that was not a bad series, I was initially upset to see a great martial artist don the stereotypical “Kung Fu fighter from China” role. In hindsight, this portrayal of him as “The other” might have been the best way to overcome language barriers.
How's this for a fun fact? Apparently he did a cameo in Enter the Dragon! Well, Sammo Hung was in most of Jackie Chan's earlier movies like the Lucky Star series as well as numerous others. His fighting style and prowess is almost always showcased in most of these flicks. For a glimpse of this, check out the last fight in Winners and Sinners (first movie in the LS series). Who else can leap back and forth between piled up cargo boxes while fending off four minions? Check out the end fight scene here.
One early movies that I will highlight are Pedicab Driver. It's a good old-school martial movie; realistic fight scenes mingled with occasional bits of good humor. You know, the good old days when martial arts resembled well choreographed version of street fighting. Gist of the story? Rickshaw driver defending his girlfriend (who used to be a hooker) from her previous boss (i.e. gangster pimp). Good times all around. Two noteworthy scenes are the end fights against Chow and the big brawl between Sammo Hung and Lau Kar Leung.
Check out the latter scene here.
That's my list. What were your favorite movies/fights of these martial arts stars?