Donnie Yen interview on ‘Sha Po Lang’ SPL Movie

November 14th, 2008

SHA PO LANG or SPL, released on DVD as KILL ZONE by Dragon Dynasty here in the US, is one of the most talked-about kung fu movies of recent years. Donnie Yen’s choreography and his fight scenes with Wu Jing and Sammo Hung garnered enthusiastic praise from critics and fans alike. In the last entry of my series “Red Fists,” which traced the influence of left wing filmmakers on the development of kung fu cinema, I pointed out that both Yen and Wu underwent years of training in wushu, the contemporary competition version of kung fu that flowered in China after the founding of the People’s Republic. Although SPL cannot be considered a wushu film, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the art is the foundation of both men’s careers. For all you SPL fans out there, here’s a re-posting of the interview with Yen that I did on the film’s release.

Left: Donnie Yen. Right: Jacky Wu Jing.

SHA PO LANG is one of the most talked-about films of 2005, and the hard hitting police actioner marks a return to the glory days of Hong Kong film. SPL action director and star Donnie Yen talks with from Hong Kong, where he is editing DRAGON TIGER GATE, his latest film.

KFC: Rumor says that the alley fight scene in SPL was improvised on camera. Is that true?

DY: I don’t know why there’s a rumor that the the whole scene was improvised. It’s very simple. Most of my films, all of my action scenes, whether I’m the director or action director, I have full control and I create all the choreography, from shooting to editing. Even in other films, I do my own choreography – that’s a known practice in the industry. I specifically create the look of the action. For the alley scene, I looked at Wu Jing’s earlier films and I saw he was a wushu stylist. SPL is a modern day film, so we had to work with his wushu movement. I have a strong background in wushu too, so I’d ask him to do certain movements so he wouldn’t look too much like wushu. My objective in the alley scene was to bring a long shot, realistic quality to it. Some of the shots were choreographed, but others were improvised on the set. I’d say, “I want you to attack, then I’ll come at you, and I want you to react.” That’s how it came about. I’d be saying, “Come to me.” But you couldn’t see my lips moving. Then in the editing, I made it even more realistic.

KFC: How long did it take to rehearse and shoot the alley fight?

DY: We shot the scene in basically five days. I choreographed it with my assistants, and then I said to Wu Jing, “If you look like too much of a traditional martial artist, it’s not going to work. So we’re taking out your signature type of moves.”

KFC: It looked very dangerous for both of you.

DY: It wasn’t that difficult. Obviously, I have the experience. I was dictating the rhythm – if he comes in too close, I step back. In the beginning he was holding back a little, but I had full confidence that I could dodge his movement. I was actually talking to him as we shot it.

KFC: Your character uses a baton against Wu Jing’s knife. What made you chose that weapon?

DY: Well, for a combination of reasons. Obviously we didn’t want to use a gun but it’s quite difficult to avoid guns in a cop movie. But a baton, that’s something a policeman uses. I knew it would be hard to use. I thought both weapons would be hard to show, to use visually, because they’re small. A lot of action directors will use short shots and close-ups to show small weapons, but I wanted to show the whole body movement instead of little pieces of it.

KFC: You stated previously that you shot a 40 second long take in the fight, but it looks like that got cut in the editing.

DY: Yeah, unfortunately.

KFC: Will we ever get to see the uncut footage, maybe on the US DVD?

DY: I don’t think so.

KFC: You used some terrific grappling techniques in the fight with Sammo Hung.

DY: That’s very difficult to shoot. It can turn into watching a UFC fight. If you shoot it too realistically, it doesn’t look right. You have to be a little cinematic.

KFC: There were a couple of amazing leg grapples, one when he’s spinning you around and you take control and throw him, and another when you jump kick him and turn it into a head lock and throw him.

DY: I just wanted to have a little fun with it.

KFC: Was it tough to film the nightclub scene? How long did it take?

DY: Nine days. We didn’t have the set to ourselves. It was a real nightclub and we only had it from 2 AM until noon. We had to be really careful not to mess it up. And Sammo’s knees were hurting!

KFC: His acting was really terrific in SPL!

DY: Yeah, I tried to keep the camera on his face, to capture his character on camera.

KFC: You’ve worked with SPL director Wilson Yip again on DRAGON TIGER GATE. Are you happy with the work you’ve done on that film?

DY: The action in DRAGON TIGER GATE will be groundbreaking! I haven’t seen any movies that were able to combine martial arts with comics in the right way. Other films didn’t highlight the action. DRAGON TIGER GATE is the closest thing to real comic book action. But it also has to be realistic. If it isn’t realistic, you don’t get drawn into that world.

KFC: Are you going to work on the recently announced SEVEN SWORDS sequel?

DY: Of course they’ve asked me. But right now I’m working on SPL 2. It’s going to be Wilson and me, and all the same production people. It’s going to be about cops in Macao, sort of like TRAINING DAY in Macao, and it will have a bigger budget than SPL. (Note: This project eventually turned into FLASH POINT (2007).) I’m talking to Mandarin Films about some projects now. After SEVEN SWORDS 2 and SPL 2 and maybe DRAGON TIGER GATE 2, we’re talking about adapting a Japanese comic book.

KFC: Will you be making a another traditional kung fu movie any time soon?

DY: I’m a little tired of traditional martial arts. I’m going to stay with contemporary style for a while. If I do a traditional martial arts film, it will emphasize character and drama, like SEVEN SWORDS. But first, I’m going to attempt to break new ground with contemporary action.


What are your thoughts or opinions for any upcoming Donnie Yen movies?

Wushu Results of 6th National Farmers Meeting

November 5th, 2008
Editor: Sharon Lee
Updated: 2008-11-4 10:53:00

6th National Farmers’ Meeting comes to an end. This evening the curtain is about to fall on the 6th National Farmers’ Sports Meet in Quanzhou. Hunan athletes have made a superb athletic performance, harvesting 13 gold medals, 9 silver medals and 4 bronze medals and outnumbering the 12 gold medals for last one.

Peng Xiuqi, Secretary of Delegation of Farmers’ Meet of Hunan, told the reporter that Hunan athletes did an excellent job, manifesting a perfect sportsmanship as well as the spiritual style of farmers, and achieved double harvests in competition results and spiritual civilization.

84 Hunan athletes took part in 9 fields of matches on this meeting, including field and track, swimming, wushu, dragon boat paddling, dragon dance, lion dance, fishing, Chinese chess and body-building yangge.

Lion and dragon dancing team got a lion share in this big victory with 5 gold medals and 4 silver medals in their pocket, including 2 most valuable all-round champions, which represents that our team has become one of the best in China. Despite of the fact that this was their first time to participate in this game, the dragon boat paddling team from Changde also got a good result, winning 2 gold and 1 silver. 23-year-old player Liu Qunli won three gold medals in the three matches she attended, and 18 year-old Liu Shan from Xinhua exhibited an amazing performance in wushu, capturing the most valuable all-round Woman’s Champion in self-selecting long boxing, which is also the first won all-round gold medal in this field.

Foreign mentors willing to promote Chinese Kungfu wushu abroad

November 3rd, 2008

Article from

SHIYAN, Central China, Nov.1 (Xinhua) — Although Chinese Kungfu has yet to take central stage in the sports world, some foreign pioneers are starting to promote it internationally.

“China is the hometown of Kungfu. I love Wushu because it nurses man’s body and mind. By practicing it, people can find a balance from inner part and also can face this world more bravely,” said Manca Giancarlo, coach of Italian Wushu Federation, during the 3rd World Traditional Wushu Championships (WTWC) held in central China’s Shiyan city.

The 58-year-old Giancarlo has practiced Wushu for forty years. After learning Wushu in China, he came back to Italy and began teaching Wushu. Until now, he has 1,500 students in Italy.

“A Kungfu player should pay respect to his master and seek for knowledge modestly,” he told his students.

Derventis Panagiotis, 41, comes from Greece and has practiced Kungfu for twenty years.

Now he opened a Wushu center in Greece and became a teacher of more than a hundred students in his country. During this WTWC, Panagiotis also participated in the competition as a player with his students.

“There is no limit to Wushu knowledge. I hope more and more people can learn Wushu and benefit from it,” he said.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

International wushu and cultural carnival

October 27th, 2008

AFTER 10 years, Malaysia will once again host the 10th World Chin Woo Wushu and Cultural Carnival that will see some of the best international exponents competing in Ipoh.

Ipoh Chinese Chin Woo Athletic Association deputy president Datuk Ooi Foh Sing said some 250 participants were expected for the carnival from Nov 22 to Nov 24.

They include 130 exponents from China, Australia (29), Singapore (19), New Zealand (11), Japan (10) and the United States (eight).

Ooi said they were the best from Chin Woo associations all over the world.

“Malaysia too will have 35 exponents in two teams,” he said in Ipoh on Thursday.

Ooi said the carnival would include wushu contests covering unarmed and armed categories, wushu demonstrations, calligraphy and Chinese painting competitions.

He invited the public to the carnival which starts at 7.30pm at Stadium Indera Mulia on Nov 22. The wushu competitions will be held on Nov 23 and Nov 24 at the stadium from 9am on both days.

Calligraphy and art contests (10am on Nov 23) and a night of wushu performances (8pm on Nov 24) will be held at the Ipoh Chinese Chin Woo Athletic Association hall in Jalan Hussein. Entry is free for spectators for all the above events.

For details, call 05-2419413 or 2415561.

How to do an outside crescent kick.

October 17th, 2008

I will try to follow this up with a video tutorial, but for now I will give you a few quick tips and pointers on how to do a nice big clean wushu outside crescent kick.

For those of you who arent sure what this move is.. it is when you kick outward in circular motion starting from the opposite side of your body moving away from yourself. The kick forms a crescent shape- thus the name outside crescent kick.


1) Stretch, stretch, and stretch. – You should be able to kick up to your head otherwise this kick will never look good by a wushu outside kick standard.

2) Pull your toe back when you kick up. Your kicking foot should not be dangling or purposeless. It should be going up and pulling back with a clear direction and then moving quickly outward and then downward getting ready to reach the ground.. so in other words you have to have some form of coordination because this happens all separately and simultaneously while you are kicking your leg up and out.

3) Keep your freakin knee straight. Do not try to cheat and bend your knee. No good! Knee locked, back up. Can’t repeat enough (and tired of repeating it).

Alright! So there you have it. 3 top tips to improve your outside kick. More advanced tips on refining your kick once you have mastered these 3 points.