When most kung fu film fans talk about their favourite kung fu fighting choreographers, there are certain names that you can virtually guarantee will be mentioned; Yuen Woo-ping, Lau Kar Leung, Jackie Chan, Corey Yuen and of course, Sammo Hung.
Known among his peers in the Hong Kong film industry as Da Goh Da, “Big Brother Big”, or “Biggest Brother”, from his teens until the present, Sammo has constantly innovated and redefined martial arts movie action. He initially combined the acrobatic skills of his traditional Peking Opera training with the hard-hitting philosophy of Bruce Lee’s more grounded approach to fight scenes.
Throughout the 1970’s, Sammo constantly pushed the envelope, breaking away from the very formal choreography of mainstream martial arts films. His work on movies such as “Warriors Two”, “Knockabout”, “Odd Couple” and “Magnificent Butcher”, refreshed the genre, culminating in what many consider to be one of the finest examples of traditional martial arts film fighting, “The Prodigal Son”. In the early 1980’s his films “Encounters of the Spooky Kind” and “The Dead and The Deadly” kickstarted a whole new genre of supernatural action-comedies.
Throughout the eighties, Sammo transferred his skills to settings other than the period kung fu film, with top notch contemporary action in the films “Winners and Sinners”, “My Lucky Stars”, “Wheels on Meals” and “Eastern Condors”. Now in his sixth decade in the industry, Sammo’s work on movies such as “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame”, “Ip Man” 1&2, “Call of Heroes” and “The Bodyguard” demonstrate his incredible ability to keep bringing fresh and exciting ideas to martial arts choreography.
Sammo is not only a prolific producer and director of Hong Kong films, he is very often at the heart of the action as a performer. Despite his burly frame, Sammo has proven to be one of the most acrobatic screen fighters. His traditional kung fu and weapons skills are legendary, and there is never any doubt about the power of his fists and feet! He has fought alongside and against some of the biggest names in the business, from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan.
Having starred in some of the best onscreen punch ups ever committed to film, we thought we’d present our Top 10 Sammo Hung Movie Fight Scenes! so here they are in descending order:
- Fatal Move (2008) – Sammo Hung vs Wu Jing
In 2008, Sammo proved he can still mix it up with the next generation of martial arts stars in a brutal battle with Jacky Wu Jing. This scene is the highlight of the movie, seamlessly blending traditional weapons skills into a contemporary setting.
- SPL: Sha Po Lang/Kill Zone (2005) – Sammo Hung vs Donnie Yen
Two heavyweights of modern Hong Kong action cinema came together in spectacular fashion in director Wilson Yip’s cops and gangsters crime thriller. Bringing in modern MMA-style grapples and throws, Sammo is more than a match in technique and speed for his opponent, Donnie Yen!
- Odd Couple (1979) – Sammo Hung vs Lau Kar-wing
Another legendary choreographer in his own right, and older brother of Lau Kar-leung, Lau Kar-wing and Sammo Hung upped the ante for traditional weapons choreography in 1979’s “Odd Couple”. Although they retain traditional kung fu techniques, the free-flowing style, speed, and long, wide takes were a refreshing change from the staccato rhythm of the “old school” of kung fu weapons fights.
- Pedicab Driver (1989) – Sammo Hung vs Lau Kar-leung
Two of the greatest kung fu action directors of all time united for 1989’s “Pedicab Driver”. This scene features Sammo’s fast, hard-hitting style combined with the power of Lau Kar-leung’s authentic traditional kung fu. A fan-favourite that illustrates just how stunning the standards of these two legends are in the world of martial arts movies!
- Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985) – Sammo Hung vs Richard Norton
As well as having perfect timing when it comes to hardcore fighting, Sammo has shown so many times throughout his career that he also has some killer comic-timing! Australian martial arts expert Richard Norton is the perfect foil for him in this classic clip from the hilarious Lucky Stars series.
- Millionaires Express (1986) – Sammo Hung vs Yuen Biao
Cynthia Rothrock was something of a pioneer not just for women in Hong Kong action movies, but Caucasian action actors in general. Having made an impressive debut in “Police Assassins/Yes Madam”, Sammo picked Cynthia for a standout fight in the climax of his classic ensemble action comedy “Millionaire’s Express”. Sammo gives Cynthia no quarter and she proves easily be the equal of her male counterparts. As a result, her long and successful action movie career continues to this day!
- Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon (1990) – Sammo Hung vs Lau Kar-wing and Mark Houghton
Although primarily a buddy-comedy film co-starring Karl Maka, the action was taken seriously, particularly in the lightning-paced finale featuring Lau Kar-wing and British Hung Gar expert, Mark Houghton.
- Knockabout (1979) – Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao vs Lau Kar-wing
Although more of a vehicle for the talents of Yuen Biao and Bryan “Beardy” Leung Kar-yan, Sammo gets to join in the fun, taking on Lau Kar-wing’s villain in the final reel. Starting in a classic tea house setting, there are some great Monkey Boxing techniques and a spectacular payoff from the skipping sequence featured earlier in the movie.
- Eastern Condors (1987) – Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao vs Yuen Wah
With a stellar cast list, the final battle of Sammo Hung’s action-packed war film showcased the talents of some of the best fighters in the Hong Kong film industry. Sammo wanted real contact throughout the film so the audience could really feel the power of every blow. Teaming up with his Peking Opera brothers Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah, this scene highlights the fantastic skills and timing that they have forged together over the years.
- Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980) – Sammo Hung vs Huang Ha
Although this was a supernatural movie, the real magic comes in the form of the incredible and genuine martial arts skills performed throughout the movie. The end fight displays a variety of styles and one of the best weapons duels ever to feature in a kung fu film.
This was a tough list to compile, worthy of a part 2 we think! So, which of the above is your favourite Sammo Hung fight scene? Are there any you like that are missing from this list perhaps from “Ip Man 2”, “Project A”, “Iron Fisted Monk”, “Dragons Forever”, “Magnificent Butcher”? There are so many to choose from we know…Let us know your favourites in the comments below or on our Facebook page!