image Improvisational emulation

Yuen Woo-Ping’s Tiger Cage (1988) had a fight in a gas-fraught room which was rebooted in Corey Yuen Kwai’s The Bodyguard from Beijing (1994) before Ping redid it in Black Mask (1996). The last two movies starred Jet Li. Corey’s work on American Shaolin had influenced Ping to copy the idea of a monk trying to defend himself on slippery grounds for The Tai Chi Master (1993) – another Jet movie. Ping also used Corey for inspiration during the making of said film. Ninja in the Dragon’s Den had a fight involving Conan Lee fighting on stilts. Corey’s version was better (as is his attempts at making people realize that Hwang Jang-Lee is the world’s best kicker). The irony is that RZA only hired Corey on The Man with the Iron Fists because Ping was unavailable.

It’s common for the cream of H.K. action’s crop to copy each other. It’s more to do with competition than lack of creativity. The Bruceploitation genre was very influential. The playground fights in The New Game of Death and Fists of Bruce Lee influenced the one in Police Story 2 (1988). The bus scene in Dragon Dies Hard influenced Police Story and In the Line of Duty IV (1989). The opening sequence in Storming Attacks (a.k.a. The Image of Bruce Lee) influenced the one in Crocodile HunterTower of Death had a finale where a moustached man falls into a red pool within a drug factory. This was reworked in Dragons Forever (1988). Then again, Corey Yuen worked on both movies. Conclusively, Black Spot inspired Police Story 3 (1988).

Biao’s bench fight in The Young Master (1980) inspired Phillip to top him in The Rebel Intruders (a 1980 movie which was retitled Killer Army). There’s even a snake-styled fighter (à la Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow) who gets defeated. The bench fights predated Sammo’s bench fight in Encounter of the Spooky Kind (1980). Sammo was more interested in topping Phillip than topping Jackie because the former rivalled Sammo’s mastery of the three-sectional-staff in The Victim (1980). However, one can say that Sammo’s bench fight is better than Jackie’s such duel in The Big Brawl.

Jackie using a fridge door in Rumble in the Bronx was a tribute to the late Brandon Lee doing it in Rapid Fire, where Lee took some things from Police Story. In Lion Vs. Lion, Tom Chin uses a chain whip against an unarmed Johnny Wang. This influenced a similar fight in Ping’s Drunken Tai Chi. In Ping’s fight, Donnie Yen is unarmed against an armed Don Wong. One of the co-choreographers of Lion vs. Lion, Tyrone Hsu (who played a pivotal role in Ping’s Drunken Master) got back at Ping (in the same year) by expertly incorporating breakdancing in I Will Finally Knock You Down, Dad!

Coincidentally, the Jing-scripted Treasure Hunters (1981) was said to have been an influence on break dancers. Drunken Tai Chi hasn’t been the only movie where Ping felt the need to rival someone. The lion dance sequence in Dreadnought was an attempt to belittle the similar sequence in The Young Master. For The Tai Chi Master, Ping wanted to improve upon an old idea that had been used by Yuen Bun in Tsui Hark’s Once Upon a Time in China III – another Jet movie. The idea had Wong Fei-Hung opulently opposing oil-opposed opponents. It came from a Wong Fei-Hung movie starring Kwan Tak-Hing (The Conqueror of the Sam-Hong Gang).

The link between both movies is The Magnificent Butcher (a dark 1979 dramedy co-starring Kwan) but the idea was retooled in a less peopled manner. Corey reiterated the idea for one of the last fights in The Transporter. For the latter, he adapted the fight involving dock containers from The Blonde Fury. You can find more instances of him copying himself if you watch the final fights in Fist of Fury 1991 and American Shaolin (1991) back-to-back.

The final fight between Agnes Aurelio and Joyce Godenzi was the source of inspiration for fights which Corey directed in Cradle 2 the Grave (the female fight) and DOA: Dead or Alive (i.e. Tina vs. Zach). The former stars Jet. Coincidentally, the latter takes moves from Tony Ching’s work on Naked Weapon. Liu Chia-Liang’s Martial Arts of Shaolin, starring Jet, took the calligraphy fight from The Magnificent Butcher and reinvented it as a sport. However, the brush-themed wrist wrestling from Ping’s movie then became an arm wrestling contest in Drunken Tai Chi.

In Righting Wrongs, Cynthia Rothrock tries to restrain several attackers at once. This would be remade in American Shaolin and The One – the latter was a star vehicle for Jet. In Fong Sai Yuk II, he used a woman as a weapon. Corey repeated this in Romeo Must Die – another Jet project. It would be reused by other choreographers for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Breaking Dawn Part 2. The choreographer of the latter recreated some moves from Drunken Master II for The World’s End. Stephen Tung took Ping’s ingenious leather-belt-as-a-nunchaku gag from Fist of Legend for Hitman, which made it self-referential because of Jet being the star of both movies.

Stephen worked on Bulletproof Monk (as did Andy Cheng Kai-Chung), which took the suspended glass fight from Stanley Tong’s China Strike Force. Batman Forever revived the laundry Kung Fu gag from Dreadnought, Ang Lee’s martial arts hit (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) took the crooked female partnership and the nocturnal thievery intervention from The New Legend of Shaolin. Tellingly, Columbia purchased the rights to the latter before producing the former.

Back to Romeo Must Die, the fire hose fight was rejuvenatingly revisited for The Transporter 2. The amalgamation of football and Kung Fu in the former wasn’t just predated by American Shaolin but foreshadowed by Dragon Lord, which Corey had worked on. He knew the idea would work in Romeo Must Die because he was one of the stunt co-ordinators for a movie which combined basketball and fighting in one instance i.e. Eastern Condors (this influenced Kung Fu Dunk).

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