Wing Chun Movie Recommendations
Movie recommendations are subjective. In our view, a good kung fu movie has terrific action that is filmed in a way that allows you to see what they're really doing. For Wing Chun students, you really must see Ip Man, Dragon, the Bruce Lee Story and Enter the Dragon.

Criteria
Most Hollywood films substitute fast editing for real martial arts to try to heighten the action and can be irritating when you want to see what they're actually doing. Some films on our list show off Wing Chun, but many do not. Wing Chun isn't that showy. We recommend some movies because they are  entertaining and/or express a philosophy consistent with what we teach. Our list shies away from special effects and wire work (hence no Matrix). A great martial arts actor can do more than enough amazing stuff for real. With special effects, you can't tell where reality ends and digital enhancement begins, so you can't appreciate how good they are in such films. These films are not ranked in order of quality, but in the order you'll probably want to see them.


Kung Fu Movies with Wing Chun
Ip Man (PG13) - Donnie Yen plays Yip Man in this dynamic and moving true story of the kung fu master's life in Foshan when the Japanese took over China. The movie not only portrays a gripping story and features excellent technique in the art of Wing Chun, it also delineates the philosophy behind it. Wing Chun is about dissolving attacks. We seek no argument, we seek no violence, but if it is brought to our door, Wing Chun is badass at taking care of business, simply and efficiently. It is a definitive Wing Chun movie. Not to be missed.

Dragon, the Bruce Lee Story (PG13) - Jason Scott Lee (no relation) plays Bruce Lee, the legendary martial artist, Sifu and philosopher. Although Jason Scott Lee had to pick up some Wing Chun quickly for the movie, his technique is pretty good. Bruce Lee's story is truly legendary, based on his wife Linda Lee's book. Even people who would never watch a kung fu movie will be moved by Bruce's journey. There's a lot of Wing Chun action throughout the movie including scenes of Bruce training with Grandmaster Yip Man, later teaching his own students at his own kwoon as well as young Bruce on a wooden dummy and doing the Sil Lum Tao. Jason Scott Lee is amazing and magnetic as the man.

Ip Man II (PG13) - Picking up Yip Man's story where the movie Ip Man left off, Donnie Yen again plays Yip Man as he moves to Hong Kong where he has to fight to defend his students and prove he is worthy to the Hong Kong martial arts community. However, the highlight of this true story are the events that occur when the world heavyweight boxing champion is brought over for an exhibition match of western boxing. The towering hulk belittles Chinese culture and martial arts, maliciously injuring many Chinese and actually brutally killing an old kung fu master. When he faces no consequences and publicly challenges and denounces all Chinese, only Ip Man steps up to accept the challenge against this classless monster who is constantly rewarded for his violence and brutality. The boxer outweighs him by about 100lbs of pure muscle and is about a foot taller, so it really highlights the effectiveness of what we teach everyday but also the inherent dignity and respect for all people that Yip Man embodied. It reflects well on why we train for real, but also teach a tolerance and respect for non-violence in our students. When our students develop the skills and power to deal with situations, they have the confidence and duty to respect everyone and avoid and de-escalate potential violence except as a last resort.

Enter the Dragon (R) - Arguably the most exciting martial arts movie ever made & a showcase of both Wing Chun and Bruce Lee's athleticism. Bruce Lee was an intense, focused individual who amply demonstrates the power of our Wing Chun techniques mixed with movie-style flashier moves. Note that Bruce Lee only learned part of Wing Chun, quite correctly felt that what he learned was incomplete and filled in the gaps creatively himself borrowing from other martial arts. The result is that his techniques are sometimes textbook Wing Chun and sometimes all over the place in a movie. All Bruce Lee films contain a fair amount of Wing Chun, but Enter the Dragon is the most intense. It's also good that it was filmed in English, not redubbed later.

Hanna (PG13) - This movie shows how Wing Chun works for the classic problem, how does a small person defend against multiple aggressive attackers with weapons? The beauty of the fight choreography is that it doesn't slow down and savor the techniques, it shows just how subtle and effective Wing Chun is when you're not messing around. If you watch the movie, and didn't realize it was kung fu at all, that's an endorsement for how good it really is. In the story, Hanna is a teenage girl trained by her father to fight for her life against hordes of CIA agents who will come to kill her when she seeks the truth and revenge for her mother's murder. Both Saoirse Ronan as Hanna and Eric Bana as the father are terrific and the realistic fighting shows what a slight teenage girl can do with focus and Wing Chun training. Because it is realistic, the fighting moves quickly, similar to a good Bruce Lee movie. Well worth a watch!

Prodigal Son
(R) - It's a bit dated, but it was revolutionary when it was made. It was the first movie about Wing Chun using actual Wing Chun techniques and it was big deal to me when I started. The footwork is not perfect & some moves are more like acrobatics (as in most kung fu movies), but there's plenty of real Wing Chun in the combat scenes and the story involves actual characters from the Wing Chun lineage. This movie tells the story of Wong Wah Bo, Leung Yee Tei & Leung Jan, three important characters in Wing Chun history (see the History page for details). It has extremely good & realistic fight scenes. It's also very funny, particularly Samo Hung's role as an elder Wing Chun master dabbling in calligraphy.

Ip Man, The Legend is Born
(PG13) - This is sort of a prequel to Ip Man, with the story of Ip Man becoming Chan Wah Soon's last student, going through trials to court his future wife and learning where the holes in his form were by studying with Leung Bik, the son of Leung Jan who was Chan Wah Soon's Sifu and the main character in Prodigal Son. It's not quite as close to biography as Ip Man and Ip Man II, but there's a lot of great fight scenes and a good story. It's well worth watching for the appearance of Ip Man's actual son, Ip Chun who appears in the movie. When the cocky Ip Man goes to a store in Hong Kong to buy some stuff, he's blown away when the 80-something shopkeeper tells him his Wing Chun isn't that good and proceeds to start taking him apart. The old shopkeeper is Leung Bik who is actually played by Ip Man's actual son Ip Man who was actually 85 at the time. Watching Ip Chun believably tossing a 20-something version of his dad around like a rag doll is really something. It also highlights an important aspect to what we teach. Wing Chun incorporates all that works and rejects that which doesn't. While our curriculum is very good,

Warriors Two
(R) - This movie is sort of a sequel to Prodigal Son. It picks up with Leung Jan, the elder pharmacist Wing Chun Master of Fat Shan who runs a kung fu school.
Chan Wah Soon begs to learn Wing Chun from him for revenge and personal safety and eventually becomes a great student. The action comes to a boil as the students must seek justice for their master. As in Prodigal Son, the combat scenes and the story involve actual characters from the Wing Chun lineage. It has great training scenes and the fights are quite exciting. 

Rapid Fire
(R) - Brandon Lee was Bruce Lee's son, a terrific martial artist & a really good actor. Rapid Fire shows off both skills very well with exciting and varied action sequences and a pretty good story. His intense physical presence is different than his dad but compelling & totally believable in his techniques, carrying a powerful strength but also more vulnerability than his father would show on film. It is unfortunate that Brandon's untimely death cut short a brilliant career. This film is slightly cheesy in spots, but the martial arts action is wall to wall excellence and a great showcase of Wing Chun.

Sherlock Holmes & Sherlock Holmes
- A Game of Shadows (PG) - Robert Downey Jr credits Wing Chun training not only for making incredibly action scenes, but for saving and focusing his life. He has trained regularly in Wing Chun for years. He used Wing Chun as the logical choice for Sherlock Holmes' fighting style in both Sherlock Holmes movies to great effect. We hope he as opportunity to show even more as he progresses in the art and has other movie opportunities.

Taken
(R) - This movie isn't known for Wing Chun, but it is used throughout in this Liam Neeson action thriller about a highly trained father who goes to Europe to rescue his daughter from a human trafficking ring before she's lost forever. The expediency and determination of the father required a Wing Chun approach to everyone who tries to kill him or get in the way between him and saving his daughter. When you don't have time to waste, efficiency is the way to go. It's also a big heart-wrenching in parts, but mainly a great action romp driven by a father's love.

Batman Begins & The Dark Knight (R) - Like Robert Downey Jr, Christian Bale has trained in Wing Chun for years and it shows in how her performs as Batman. Naturally, Batman has to be smooth and controlled in his ability to take out attackers with weapons, attackers who surprise him and just tons of attackers who keep coming. The system developed for the Batman movies is similar to Wing Chun, having been developed by two students of Dan Inosanto, Bruce Lee's number one student.

Return of the Dragon & The Big Boss (R) - Despite the title, this Bruce Lee movie's plot has nothing to do with Enter the Dragon. It's not up to the same production values, but has inspired fighting sequences including a major showdown between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, two martial arts legends. Worth watching for that alone.

Rumble in the Bronx (R) - Like most Jackie Chan movies, the plot, dialog & script are odd, but the action is intense, varied and creative. Jackie's ability to use any found object from a t-shirt to snow skis as a weapon is thrilling to watch. It's bizarre having Vancouver double for the Bronx, but in Jackie Chan's world, it's OK. There's also some Wing Chun content since he works out on the Wing Chun wooden dummy early on in the film. 

The Grandmaster (PG13) - Tony Leung plays Grandmaster Ip Man in this cinematic movie. The fight scenes are pretty great and the Wing Chun is excellent. However, the plot meanders, it doesn't follow history and there isn't that much about Ip Man himself. If you love wuxia, this is for you, but it is very ponderous. The first 6 minutes would be golden if we knew who was fighting Ip Man and what it was all about.

UPCOMING
Ip Man III 3D (PG13) - Yes, Donnie Yen as signed on to play legendary Sifu Ip Man in the final Ip Man film that focuses on Ip Man's most famous student, young Bruce Lee. Everyone from Ip Man I and II is onboard, so this movie should be outstanding like the other two. Ip Man III is currently in production and is scheduled for release in 3D in 2014.


Good Kung Fu/Action Movies that DON'T have Wing Chun
Supercop
(R) - A very funny Jackie Chan film that pairs him up with Michelle Yeoh, an amazing martial artist in her own right. It's certainly a great example of a woman doing kung fu and stunts that are as amazing as anything Jackie Chan can do. Amazing action overcomes confusing plot. Both Jackie and Michelle do real stunts that are more fantastic than any special effect such as hanging from a helicopter, getting smashed into buildings, hitting and getting dumped off moving cars and crash-landing a motorcycle on a moving train. They do all this and more for real and the outtakes at the end show how much some of the scenes hurt. However, don't rent the sequel called Supercop II. It's a huge disappointment with bland action even though we love Michelle Yeoh.


Forbidden Kingdom (PG) - Jackie Chan & Jet Li team up to transform Michael Angarano from a kung fu fanboy-wannabe into a real martial artist on a mythic quest. Its the first onscreen team up of Jackie and Jet and they both get to show what makes them legendary in dual roles each. It's a funny and spiritual movie about a kid growing into a man, with lots of great kung fu. Normally I dislike kung fu on wires (wire-fu), but the mythological nature of the story gives them license to do so in some parts while there's plenty of Jackie and Jet's real talent on display. The kid's journey from boy to man, from fanboy to martial artist is surprisingly well grounded considering its a fantasy movie. It is a great movie for kids to see when they are old enough to handle the fight scenes for the positive messages it delivers.

Bourne Identity (PG-13) - Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, a black ops CIA assassin who doesn't remember who he is. It's an exciting journey as he discovers who he is and kiss butt with an efficient and no-nonsense style. The fighting scenes involve multiple attacks being dispatched without comment, without the movie overplaying or over dramatizing, just dealing with it in a matter of fact fashion, which is the beauty of watching it in comparison to most martial arts movies which are obviously trying to showcase the action in an artificial way. The sequel "Bourne Supremacy" is also good, but the camera pans in so tight and jittery that you can't see what's going on.


Drunken Master II/ Legend of Drunken Master (R) - Jackie Chan is an amazing martial artist, comedian, stuntman and actor. This film doesn't include either Wing Chun or actual drunken style boxing (which is a real kung fu style by the way), but it contains a lot of jaw-dropping stunts, amazing fight scenes and is very funny. Jackie Chan doesn't fake anything & he has the injuries to prove it. This film shows why Jackie Chan truly is the world's greatest action movie star and the craziest. The original Drunken Master is also of interest. Not quite as good, but pretty funny, especially the crazy training scenes.

Fist of Legend
(R) - Jet Li is very much Bruce Lee's successor in martial arts films, both inventive and flexible in his techniques and a good actor. The action scenes are amazing in this film and very real, unlikely most Jet Li films that obscure his real abilities with special effects. Jet Li is a special effect, so it's great to just open up to a wide angle shot and let him do his thing as in this film. Great training scenes, great fights, good story. What more can we say?

Rumble in the Bronx (R) - Like most Jackie Chan movies, the plot, dialog & script are odd, but the action is intense, varied and creative. Jackie's ability to use any found object from a t-shirt to snow skis as a weapon is thrilling to watch. It's bizarre having Vancouver double for the Bronx, but in Jackie Chan's world, it's OK. There's also some Wing Chun content since he works out on the Wing Chun wooden dummy early on in the film. 

Around The World In Eighty Days (G) - This is the only G rated movie on our list. It's good that you can watch great kung fu with kids guilt-free. Jackie Chan is simply a world treasure, this movie is an example of why there's something wrong with anyone who doesn't like him. Jackie is very funny as Passepartout, Phileas Phogg's valet who accompanies him for exciting action around the world. This movie is a little cheesy but it's wonderfully entertaining for all ages, you can watch it with your kids and it features some serious kung fu action on par with Jackie's very best movies. The fight with 4 guys in the French art studio where Jackie creates art while fighting is brilliant.

Rush Hour II (PG13) - A great Jackie Chan film with kung fu action throughout, good story and even Chris Tucker does some great stunt work. Note: This sequel is actually much better than the original Rush Hour (go figure!)

 

Cool Movies that get Kung Fu ideas or techniques right, but NOT BOTH. Just a good watch.

Shanghai Noon
(PG13) - A novel Jackie Chan film set in the old west with good comedy acting by Luke Wilson and Lucy Lui. It has an OK story and great pacing and humor along with inventive action scenes using objects he picked up on the set where they filmed near Calgary (like Jackie knows any other way!)


Remo Williams (PG) - Fred Ward plays Remo Williams, a clumsy cop who becomes a martial arts master in the art of Sinanju, the alleged sun source of all martial arts. As Master Chiun says, Remo moves like baboon with two clubbed feet, but this movie is funny, exciting and encapsulates some of the best ideas of Wing Chun training (use minimal energy, don't meet force on force, proper breathing etc). It's based on an amazing set of 150 novels (spanning 35 years) called Destroyer about a regular cop who gets pulled into a secret organization and is taught by an eccentric martial arts master. Chiun is a Korean cross between Yip Man & Yoda as he teaches Remo to rise beyond use of physical force in combat and master himself. The action and story are ok, but what makes this film fascinating are the training sequences and the philosophical approach to efficiency. It's clearly the opposite of showy martial arts. It is highly unfortunate that they did not make sequels to this film with better action.

Undercover Blues (PG) - A hidden gem. Very funny movie about married CIA agents with a baby who get in lots of fights. It's very Wing Chun-like in that a) the couple take turns defending vicious, violent attacks in a relaxed and effective way, b) the woman is equally adept because they don't use force on force and c) they use many one-handed defenses that work. It's particularly funny when Dennis Quaid is holding a baby while defending kicks, punches, grabs and knives . This is the only good one-handed defense movie we know of.


Shaolin Temple
(R) - Classic kung fu fighting with a young Jet Li as a boy who enters a Shaolin Temple and learns kung fu & philosophy after his father is killed. Jet Li is always awesome.

Romeo Must Die (R) - Another good Jet Li film with good story and mostly reality-based, although it unfortunately descends into special effects land in one fight at the end. There's a particularly funny use of found objects to fight and a scene where honor won't let him hit a woman trying to kill him, so he has to use parts of his girlfriend's body to hit a female assassin. You don't see that every day! The story is involving, but the fight scenes are the draw. 

Wing Chun (PG13) - Well, it's not actually a great movie, but the potential is amazing. The cast is perfect, but the script and direction are way off. It's an old movie about the original girl of legend, Yim Wing Chun herself. She was the founding student of Ng Mui that the fighting style was named after. Wing Chun is played for laughs by Michelle Yeoh. Michelle was Miss Malaysia and a 3-time kickboxing champion, so she was perfect for the beautiful but unbeatable Yim Wing Chun. It even has Donnie Yen in a supporting role. The problem is that this movie does not tell her story, the fights are jokey and fake, too much wire work. It's low-brow comedy and weird flying special effects. There is very little Wing Chun technique in a film about Yim Wing Chun herself.  A better fight coordinator who really knew Wing Chun could have made this a classic. It's not at the top of our list, but if you can find it, it's worth a laugh.


More Jackie Chan Movies that are Worth Seeing (these are all very good & highly recommended)
Who Am I
Operation Condor - (very entertaining!!)
The Big Brawl (Hollywood film in English)
Drunken Master (previous film before Legend of Drunken Master/Drunken Master II)
Police Story & Police Story II (prequels to Supercop/Police Story III)
Rush Hour
Meals on Wheels
Armor of God

More Bruce Lee Movies that are Worth Seeing (you can't go wrong with with Bruce Lee)
The Big Boss/Chinese Connection
Fists of Fury



 
 
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