Choreography: the unknown and ignored
Choreography in martial arts cinema
“Choreography and dance direction are very special arts. You either have the desire and ability to do it, or you do not. These creators combine their knowledge of dance, their personal background and style of movement, and their awareness of the camera and what it can do (in essence, their sheer art). Many people sit down and place words on the blank sheet before them to create a screenplay, but not many can make that blank sheet dance, causing audiences to react with emotion and admiration.” 
In cinema history the term “choreography,” which came from dance, theatre and music-halls, is generally associated with the musical genre. In this genre, like in martial arts cinema, the choreographer’s role is amazingly unknown and almost ignored in serious criticism on cinema. We can almost say that choreography is absent from cinema theory and rarely the object of analysis, particularly in terms of its mutli-faceted relationship to the medium. To fill this lack, one of the rare books about the subject, Film Choreography and Dance Directors, written by Larry Billman, is entirely devoted to choreography and dance analysis in films. Unfortunately, the author only talks about dance films. Both dance and martial arts films rely on choreography: both genres have a lot of similarities in terms of the relations between choreography and the cinema medium. Looking at choreography in dance films we can find few relevant references applied to martial arts cinema. In the introduction to Film Choreographers and Dance Directors, the author also writes about the lack of information on, and recognition of the choreographer’s art:
In the current film reviews in Variety and Hollywood Reporter, choreography credits are not listed. Sight and Sound is, at present, the only English-language publication which continues to list choreography credits. In such respected annual publications as Screen World, Film Review, and Film Yearbook, you can only sporadically find the name of the person who created the dance sequences, as from time to time choreographic credits are eliminated. The present work is intended to correct this lapse of reference coverage. The history of dance on film has been neglected too long. Most often, it is the dancing stars who have been discussed and examined […] Most seem to believe the dancers make up the steps as they go along. In this, choreographers and dance directors share the endless frustration of the screenwriter. As the authors of the movement sequences, they have been relegated to the back row of recognition. 
Yet, the paradox is that in a genre like the musical, the essence is, of course, the dancing. Well before any social and political analysis (for which the genre seems to fulfill some needs), the dance and its representation should be the major subject of analysis, since it is one of the most specific elements of the genre.
Author Timothy E. Scheurer criticizes this one-way analysis of the musical genre which has always been seen in relation to commercial cinema, as has the martial arts cinema. Therefore, both genres suffer from this single vision analysis, while the genre’s specificity is simply ignored and/or put to one side. Scheurer summarizes this aspect well: “we tend to dismiss the question of what sort of inherent aesthetic appeal a film genre as a genre may have.”  This inherent and distinctive aesthetic comes from a key element: the choreography.
If Billman’s book and Scheurer’s article are rare examples of the few references about the subject, there are fewer yet (we can almost say none at all) on the role of choreography in martial arts cinema. We can sometimes find the term without any development of its signification and its consequences on cinema. This article will attempt to fill the void of information on the subject by illustrating different aspects of choreography and also by differentiating betweem Asian and Western cinema.
Choreography in martial arts cinema
The necessary condition of a choreographer is that combats are filled with signification, and that the confrontation does not stop the action but reinforces its emotional aspect. The American cinema problematizes these points. Often, action scenes stop the storyline, while in Hong Kong cinema it is part of the storytelling.* 
The fights constitute a “non-verbal?” story […] My purpose is to tell a story without words. If I could, I would tell the same story with very little dialogue. 
To better understand the implications of choreography, we should first know exactly what choreography is. Virginia Brooks, who discusses the transformations dance has undergone in the medium of cinema, defines the choreographer role as such:
Changes in dance are determined by the choreography, which simultaneously defines the three-dimensional space in which the performance will take place; by the orientation and grouping of dancers in that space; and by the repetitions in grouping combinations, and steps that make up the structure of the dance. 
Overall, choreography is the elaboration of movements and the links between them, and this definition is good for the musical [dance] as well as martial arts. The fights in Hong Kong martial arts films need not be considered only as confrontation but as narrative elements. Donnie Yen, an actor who has played in many martial arts films, explains how combats are understood in Hong Kong cinema. For that, he uses the example of Iron Monkey (Yuen Wo-ping, 1993):
In Cantonese they say that choreography needs a “bridge” to cross things, the gimmick. Each scene has to have something to offer. You can’t just have a fight for the sake of fight. It can be a flavor such as a comic relief. We built a fight scene around a prop when Wong Key-Ying takes on a group of attackers using a handy umbrella. It’s a scene that was improvised on the set using what was available, the umbrella the character carried, but it also provided a comic interlude and demonstrated the character’s skill. For that matter, in martial arts any prop used as a weapon is simply an extension of the arms or legs. For that scene I used the same tempo as I would using my arms and legs to fight. If a person attacked this way, I blocked that way. We work around the camera creating a three-dimensionality to the fight, as attackers came at me from all sides. 
This citation demonstrates how implicated fighting is in the narrative, as Yuen Wo-ping says, part of the story and the discourse. Moreover, Hong Kong films are usually searching for a way to change the representation of fighting, to keep it interesting and stimulating. The utilisation of different objects in different situations is one of the shrewd devices used to maintain (and heighten) interest. Jackie Chan is a good example of this tendency, using anything that falls in his hands, such as a staff, a brush, a ladder, etc. However, the use of an umbrella can be seen as a tribute to tradition, or a post-modern signal to the Wong Fei-hong films from the fifties. Kwan Tak-hing, the actor who had played the famous character 77 times (more than 100 hundred films have been made on Wong Fei-hong), had often used the umbrella to fight and/or to make a sequence funny. On that point, we notice with older martial arts films that many aspects of choreography are repeated in different contexts and, often, with different mise-en-scène.
Moreover, another crucial point that Donnie Yen makes is the improvisation of choreography on the set – this is an important difference between Hong Kong films and American films. On that, I would like to cite Yuen Wo-ping again:
In Hong Kong, if the stars have little experience, they all have some kung-fu knowledge; also, on set they rehearse the upcoming scene, so we can shoot the scene right away. Here, in United-States, the Western actors don’t know martial arts; so we need to train them, sometimes three months in advance, and after that can we shoot. Of course in Hong Kong, if the young actors don’t have any experience, they also need some training before the shooting. 
This element constitutes a major difference between Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema. Why would Yuen Wo-ping say that all the stars usually have some martial arts knowledge? Largely because a Hong Kong producer will not select someone who does not know kung-fu to play a martial arts character. Usually, the producers have many possibilities, which is not the case in Hollywood. Furthermore, “the three months” applies to The Matrix (Wachowski brothers, 1999). Keanu Reeves passed this period in learning just a smattering of martial arts, and also the use of cables.
Finally, the last point that Donnie Yen mentioned –and not the least important- is the interrelation between the choreographical conception and the camera. This is the point which usually turns martial arts cinema consumers to Hong Kong cinema, to the detriment of American cinema, where the representation is different. The framing and the editing are fundamental for the perception and the efficiency of the spectacle. We can also note that the framing will be tighter on the character to capture small details, but the editing should not destroy the initial movement. The secret is the continuity, especially when the main object of representation is movement, like dancing or fighting. The director, choreographer and editor determine the mise-en-scène when the fidelity of movement is absolutely necessary to a good representation. On that subject, Scheurer writes:
the film-maker serves his most important function in supporting the total sweep and message of the movement […] Walter Terry, in discussing Gene Kelly states : “Not content with simply photographing dances, he used the camera’s inherent mobility and almost magical perceptiveness to seek out dance details.” 
The choreographic movements are, for both genres, the production foundation: for a good representation they must be the basis for the mise-en-scène. Yuen Wo-ping describes choreography as a non-verbal text. Roger Garcia actually had analyzed the Yuen Wo-ping choreography without actually naming it as such. He wrote:
the consciousness reveals itself by describing a process, shuttling to and fro, from text to movement, to check their accuracy and effect; to produce a mobile writing, a text-in-activation. It is not the event which becomes primary, but the movement which composes the event. Yuen finds this movement, which cannot be classified as specific to either the “real” or the “cinematic”, at his purest in a dream-like state. 
This movement that the author is talking about is certainly the combination and the harmony between the choreography and the mise-en-scène. Also on what the medium can bring, Scheurer writes:
By choreographing the camera as such the film-maker and choreographer give it the stature of a participant in a dance. Through movement, or compression and expansion of the visual image, or editing, the film-maker is able to anticipate and embellish movement and, ultimately, control the message being communicated in the dance. 
It’s in that way that the work of the camera and the choreography must be linked together, must be in symbiosis, because the camera position must be decided in relation to the action in front of it. The choice of framing is in this case crucial to illuminate the representation. We can think of the camera as a participant in the action, as a "camera-stylo" , like an extension of the fighting in itself. In this way, the spectator can feel the emotional effects of the fighting. In martial arts cinema, we can think of the camera as a transmitter of what is occuring in front of the camera; the camera should be able to transmit the emotion, the sense of danger, the liberation of power; the camera transmits and at the same witnesses the action; “witness” because the image should show the danger the characters are in. For example, a character who uses a stick to fight another character will destroy windows, tables, and will leave marks on the floor so as to show the potential damage it can do to the adversary. That way, the camera demonstrates the sense of danger and also shows the character’s power, what I call “power demonstration”. The framing and angle can accentuate the intensity of the power demonstration and transmit to the spectator the sensation of danger. Elementary notions, some would think, but not so elementary…
Asian versus Western: comprehension of choreography and its representation on screen.
There is one thing that Hollywood will never be able to absorb, it’s the combat […] on that level, Hollywood is simply not up to par. The moment we enter into the logic of the martial arts cinema, the Asian domination is obvious. Hollywood has only absorbed the virtual and artificial side, the abstraction of choreography. 
We can feel the influence […] of Hong Kong cinema on action cinema in a few scenes like in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, particularly in the arena scene, when the hero confronts the animal. There are some blurred and short shots, and we can no longer identify the action in that determined space […] In Hollywood, this attempt to the abstract often turns into confusion. 
An understanding of choreography is a major asset in increasing the dramatic tension of a fight scene. Yet, the most elementary aspects of cinema are neglected in many Hollywood films in favor of a so-called artistic liberty causing, as Charles Tesson remarks, “confusion”. Fans of Hong Kong cinema enjoy this cinema because they can clearly see the action, the performance unfolding in front of them. David Bordwell, in an article comparing Hollywood and the Hong Kong film aesthetics, explains the phenomena like this:
In Hollywood, too often, when a fight scene is fast it’s not clear, and when it’s clear it looks laborious. […] the vivacity of Hong Kong cinema action depends more on its visual intelligibility. And, of course, it depends on the amplification of the expressivity of the action. 
The Hollywood industry has understood that imitating the Eastern fight aesthetic by inserting some kung-fu scenes would earn them fast money by appealing to a public which enjoys this aesthetic. However, the concept of choreography is too often misunderstood, and that has been the case since Bruce Lee. Tony Rayns wrote in 1980 about the film Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse, 1973), an American production filmed in Hong Kong with Bruce Lee: “Robert Clouse fails to comprehend the most basic rules for filming martial arts – that it is imperative to show the protagonist’s full length in their movements are to constitute the dynamics of the drama.”  The problem is that Robert Clouse did not know how to use martial choreography and how to film a combat scene. More than 20 years later, a film like The One (James Wong, 2001) with Jet Li still show the same faults as Enter the Dragon. The athletic performance from Jet Li is always fractured by the editing, showing only the parts with no relations in between. David Bordwell, in the same article, analyzes a sequence from Lethal Weapon (Richard Donner, 1987). He writes that the action is “physically unspecific” and gives an “idea” of the events without really showing them. This is the pattern found in The One which, like Gladiator, is mentioned by Bordwell in his discussion of Lethal Weapon:
Put generally, the actor’s performance is minimized and other cinematic techniques compensate for that. The rapid cutting, the constant camera movement, and dramatic music and sound effects must labor to generate an excitement that is not primed by the concrete event taking place before the lens. 
There are many explanations for the differences between Hong Kong and Hollywood cinema. First, there is the empirical knowledge about the art that is represented on the screen. In musical movies, like in martial arts cinema, the best films have been made by the people who know the object being represented, whether it is dance or martial arts. These people often become choreographers or directors and they understand perfectly how to use the frame to emphasize their art. Moreover, most of them have their say in the editing. To cite only one example, the undeniable and unavoidable Gene Kelly , who gave us some of the most beautiful musicals, and was involved in many aspects of filmmaking. In terms of martial arts cinema, it’s often martial arts practitioners who become stuntmen, actors, choreographers and directors.
Furthermore, the choreographer’s responsibility is different in Hong Kong compared to Hollywood. On that question, one book from the "Hong Kong International Film Festival" dealt with choreographers in Hong Kong:
Directors are naturally the prime force behind the progress in the martial arts genre. They are, however, indebted to martial arts instructors for the success of their endeavors. Since most professional directors are not themselves familiar with martial arts techniques[…] the assistance of the actual martial artist becomes very significant. Martial arts instructors often not only arrange fight scenes, but also plan the shots; they virtually take over the role of the director and in some instances, become considerably more important than the director himself. 
This quote gives us a glimpse of the major influence that the choreographer can have on framing and editing during combat scenes, comparative to the minor role they have in Hollywood cinema. Consequently, not only does the choreographer have a major role in constructing the combat action, but also in how it is ultimately rendered on film. His role in martial arts cinema cannot be ignored.
By contrast, the choreographer’s role in Hollywood cinema is generally minor in terms of framing and final edit. This dissociation of the choreographer from the production process could explain the fractured representation of fighting scenes. The director is often very far removed from the martial arts tradition. This is why instead of creating a symbiosis between the movement and the medium, by using appropriate inserts, cuts and editing, the movement is simply fractured for a false sense of rhythm, often destroying spatial coherency.
The Occidental approach relies too much in editing to join discordant shots together, causing the complete loss of the essence of the combat and of the choreography. Yet if we look at musical films, the dance movements are preserved by the editing. So perhaps it is not a question of Hollywood not being able to do it, but a matter of the perception of the action.
There are two exceptions to that pattern, and maybe these films had a snowball effect: The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000). However, as I wrote at the beginning of this article, the lack of knowledge of the role of the choreographer means that most people will think that the director is the grand-master behind the success of these two films. Do we really know who is mostly responsible for what we see on the screen, and why we can easily recognize the Hong Kong film aesthetic in these films?. For The Matrix, Yuen Wo-ping affirms in an interview that the directors had only a few ideas about the action scenes. He says: “ My job was to make everything go fine, to combine everything, to compose all the scenes. The directors had some basic ideas about the action. We worked together to bring the action and the innovation technique to a superior level.” 
We can also notice the importance of the choreographer’s role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. However, critics often consider Ang Lee as the one who has broken new ground, in other words as a “grand-master,” while his choreographer remains often forgotten:
If a star was born in Cannes, it was Zhang Ziyi, the 20 year old in Ang Lee’s sensation, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. This was the most buoyant film at Cannes, and not just Zhang, Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat spend so much time flying on invisible wires in Lee’s fantabulous martial arts ballet. The first action scene, with Yeoh chasing Zhang up walls and across roofs, earned spontaneous applause. 
Here is another example where everything is attributed to the director without considering what the choreographer brought to the proceedings:
A soulful action film by the master of comedy of manners! Brimming with physical grace and it was held together by an ethereal calm as its battlers soared through the air. […]Mr. Lee’s takes the action form, which often attacks the screen with energy and movement, and creates a placid surface that offers a new perspective and a spirituality not normally found in these pictures. 
This one makes a link with musical film genre but associates the work with the wrong person:
Rare is a film of such incontestable quality and effervescent potency that the viewer immediately wants to watch it again. Lee imbues the martial artists with spectacular athletic abilities that seem a blend of Superman and Gene Kelly. 
And this one contains a supreme misunderstanding of what an action film is with fighting and the use of choreography:
The uncontested hit of the Cannes Film Festival was Ang Lee’s foreign entry CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. With gravity-defying roof hops, sinewy swordplay and enough acrobatic kicks to make Jet Li proud, the high velocity fable, starring Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, was proof that the melodrama maestro of THE ICE STORM has reinvented himself as the international scene’s hottest action director. 
So even if on the website we can find a few references to Yuen Wo-ping as the action choreographer, these few excerpts still show how choreography is relatively unknown and misunderstood.
Most of time, the choreographer works without recognition. Yet, what really makes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stand out on the second viewing is not so much the story but the fighting scenes: the chase and the fighting on the wall and the roof, the two women fighting together, and the confrontation on a bamboo forest top. The choreographer is the main director of these scenes in terms of conceptions, direction and the adaptation of martial arts fighting to the screen. In an interview Chow Yun-fat had this to say in terms of who the real lead foreman was in realizing Crouching Tiger:
I think he wasn’t sure how to manage the kung-fu sequences, even though he had loads and loads of ideas. He would tell Wo-Ping how he wanted things done, his own way, and Wo-Ping would argue with him. Ang would say he didn’t want to shoot things the Wo-Ping way because it was an Ang Lee movie. But he kept having to compromise because his ideas couldn’t be turned to reality. Finally, he would say Wo-Ping, “Master, I’m wrong. Let’s do it your own way.” 
Like for the musical genre, it is time to recognize the importance of the choreographer, as much in analysis as in production. As we can see by these two previous examples, the choreography is as present as in the Hong Kong movies, mainly because Yuen Wo-ping had a great influence on these films. At the opposite end, a direction without a care for choreography always inserts confusion in films (or induces frustration for the spectator that is accustomed to the action scenes and fighting in Hong Kong films). If it is not during the shooting of the films, the confusion is caused by the editing. In many Western films, even if a Hong Kong choreographer works on the film, all the fighting continuity is lost because the editor and/or the director wants rhythm. And the strength of a combat is caused most of the time by what we are able to see, and the way that the choreographer is able to visualize and put the violent exchanges into images. Of course, the camera plays a major role by putting emphasis on the angle of view, the use of lenses and the framing. The editing finalizes the work but not without some continuity with the shooting.
Bottom line, the representation should be similar to the musical genre, in that the dance and the fighting must be shown in continuity – first to keep the beauty of the movement and its efficiency – second because the movement infuses the sense of harmony; the images are like a series of words that make sense when put together in an order. If you place words without construction, the sense is lost and confusion reigns.
To finish with and further our understanding of the choreographer’s role in cinema, I conducted an interview in April 2002 with a choreographer named Loon Sheng, alias Willie Ho. He further demystified the choreographer’s role in Hong Kong cinema. He also talked about a few ideas mentioned in the article and offers a contemporary point of view on choreographers in the Hong Kong film industry. Loon Sheng worked as a choreographer on the Big Boss Untouchable (Karl Leung, 2001) and he choreographed and co-directed the film Dragon Master (Ray Woo & Loon Sheng, 2001).
Interview with Loon Sheng, martial art choreographer
Traslated by David Chow,
Written by Mélanie Morrissette, April 18 2002
How did you become a choreographer?
First I was a stuntman then I became a choreographer.
So you practice martial arts, right, what kind of style?
I know most of them, I’m doing Shaolin style particularly.
In terms of your work, do you discuss the framing with the director?
Maybe ten or fifteen years ago, the director told the choreographer approximately what the framing was. So we had to work with very little information. After, with the help of video assistance, the director usually lets the choreographer decide on the the framing. When it’s time to do an action scene, the director just calls the choreographer, and sometimes he even leaves the set. Usually, he doesn’t have the time for the action scene, he cares much more about dramatic scenes or storytelling scenes. So, the choreographer needs to think about the framing and also the editing.
So do you plan the choreography in advance, for example with storyboards or do you just improvise during the shooting?
In Hong Kong, there is no rehearsal before the shooting, we improvise everything on the set.
What is the most important thing for a choreographer, the aesthetic of a shot, the dynamism, the creativity?
Actually, it depends a lot on the producer and the director, what kind of look they expect and the choreographer has to deal with what is workable or not. Sometimes, a choreographer is really restrained but even with that, I will try to experiment and bring my own personal input.
What kind of input do you try to bring?
For example, after Crouching Tiger was released, every producer wanted to copy this film. So I used the coliseum scene as a kind of inspiration, not so much for the visual aesthetic but for the feelings that carry the two characters. I’m trying to put strong feelings like desperation or savagery in my work.
I would like to talk about the history of martial arts films, from the Wong Fei-Hong films with Kwan Tak-Hing during the fifties until now. What are the major changes in choreography?
The Wong Fei-Hong films during the fifties were not so much concerned about the aesthetic of martial arts, nor was there an interest in the violence. They did not really care about martial arts. What was important at that time was the Wong Fei-Hong character, his personality, the way he behaved and the Confucian morality between the good and the evil person.
In the sixties, with the swordplay genre, the filmmakers started to put more emphasis on the aesthetic and on the style of the fighting. In the late sixties a director like King Hu introduced a new visual look.
Can you talk about King Hu?
He’s quite a pioneer in terms of how to build atmosphere and use dramatic elements.
And what do you think about Bruce Lee?
I’m not one of his big fans, I’m not a devoted fan. But before Bruce Lee came, in the Western countries and around the world, except of course Hong Kong, no one paid attention to Chinese kung-fu. I recognize the contribution of Bruce Lee as someone who started the recognition of martial arts. He was the one who spread martial arts in the movies.
Also, before him, the fighting didn’t look so powerful. Bruce Lee is the first to employ the free style combat. When he uses the realistic fight combat, it looks very powerful. After that, everybody imitated him.
I often wonder what he would be doing if he were still alive, maybe working as a producer or a director. In any case, he brought martial arts film to another level.
The problem is, in martial arts films, everybody tends to emphasize the physical side of martial arts but there are few films that are able to bring the spiritual side of martial arts. When people see martial arts on the screen they may not realize the philosophical aspect of martial arts.
Maybe because it’s very difficult to represent the philosophical aspect on screen? Usually what we can perceive in a film is only what we can see so spectators have to find the philosophical aspect behind the action scenes. I think it is difficult to do for someone who doesn’t know Asian philosophy and martial arts itself.
Can you talk to me about wirework and special effects with computers?
First, we have to use wirework depending on the context and the story. We use the computer as a tool to erase the wire. Also, with the computer you can design movement that does not look like wirework, and you can design more complex movement.
But the way we design choreography depends really on the budget. It’s difficult to be competitive with Hollywood films for this reason, because of the budget concerns.
On the other hand, wirework is really time consuming, with many people involved depending on the complexity of the choreography. Usually the producer wants interesting movement but they don’t understand how long it takes because they are business men.
What do you think about Yuen Wo-Ping’s achievement in Hollywood? Do you think what he’s doing in Hollywood is better in comparison with his Hong Kong work.
Before he had his own style, he did some interesting, fantastic films. But a film like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has already been done in Hong Kong cinema, except for the budget and the recent technology, which made the difference. Now his role in Hollywood is very different from Hong Kong cinema. In Hong Kong the martial arts effect and the choreography is a main concern, in Hollywood it is not. In Hollywood, Yuen Wo-Ping provided an Asian look for the special effects and martial arts but he is not putting his own ideas in the film. He probably has to compromise all the time.
For Jackie Chan it is very different, he is able to do his own style. Perhaps you can’t put a Chinese element like martial arts too strongly in an American film, because it’s an American film. It’s a cultural thing.
And what about Jet Li, it seems to me that he wasted his time and his talent in Hollywood films. He’s getting a bigger pay-check for what he’s doing. But his creativity is really limited, he’s not able to fully develop his skills. And also the understanding of an American director who never did martial arts and the fact that he’s very far away from the Chinese tradition makes a difference.
Yes, of course. A director may not think about martial arts aesthetics, maybe he can’t conceive that. But gradually, things, the perception of each other is changing. For example, before in Hollywood they wouldn’t accept that a character throws a punch and the actor, with the wirework, would jump 20 meters away. It was just impossible for Hollywood to do that. But now these kind of things are accepted. But usually, like I said earlier, the choreography is not a major issue in an American film.
Last year, there was a film called Extreme Challenge (Stephen Tung Wai, 2001) and it is a pure martial arts film in the sense that the fight scenes are more important than the story. The whole film is a tournament, it’s just a pretext to expose different fighting styles.
* The French source quotations were are translated by the author.
1. Larry Billman. Film Choreographers and Dance Directors, ed. McFarland & Compagny, North Carolina, 1997, p.6-7. 2. Ibid. p.7.
3. Timothy E. Scheurer, “The Aesthetic of Form and Convention in the Movie Musical,” Movies as Artefacts, Cultural Criticism of Popular film. edited by Michael T. Marsden, John G. Naghbar and Sam L.Grogg Jr, ed. Nelson-Hall, Chicago, USA, 1982, p.115.
4. Christophe Gans. Hong Kong, de la presqu’île à la planète, L’Asie à Hollywood, ed. Cahiers du Cinéma, Locardo, 2001, p.114.
5. Yuen Wo-Ping. La chorégraphie comme le combat, L’Asie à Hollywood, ed. Cahiers du Cinéma, Locardo, 2001, p.175.
6. Virginia Brooks, “Restoring the Meaning in Cinematic Movement,” Iris: Cinema and Cognitive Psychology, no. 9, Spring 1989, p. 79.
7. Donnie Yen cite by Lisa Odham et Michael Hoover, “Like Father, Like Son : Yuen Wo-ping’s Iron Monkey and the Evolution of Wong Fei-Hong,” Asian Cinema, Fall/Winter 2001, p.114.
8. Yuen Wo-Ping, 176.
9. Timothy E. Scheurer, 122.
10. Roger Garcia, “The doxology of Yuen Woo-Ping, A Study of the Hong-Kong Martial Arts Film,” publié par Urban Council of Hong-Kong, Hong-Kong, 1980, p.138.
11. Timothy E. Scheurer, p.122.
12. This expression comes from Alexandre Astruc, meaning a camera free from rules, with more liberty and expression. He wrote this expression in an article entitled: “La naissance d’une nouvelle avant-garde: la caméra-stylo,” in L’Écran Français, March 30th 1948.
13. Olivier Assayas. Hong Kong, de la presqu’île à la planète, L’Asie à Hollywood, ed. Cahiers du Cinéma, Locardo, 2001, 113.
14. Charles Tesson. Hong Kong, de la presqu’île à la planète, L’Asie à Hollywood, ed. Cahiers du Cinéma, Locardo, 2001, 112.
15. David Bordwell. "Aesthetic in Action : Kung Fu, Gunplay, and Cinematic Expressivity, Fifty Years of Electric Shadows," recueil du 21ième Festival International de Hong Kong, Urban Council, Hong Kong, 1997, 86.
16. Tony Rayns, Bruce Lee : Narcissism and Nationalism, A Study of the Hong-Kong Martial Arts Film, publié par Urban Council of Hong-Kong, Hong-Kong, 1980, 112
17. David Bordwell, "Aesthetic in Action : Kung Fu, Gunplay, and Cinematic Expressivity, Fifty Years of Electric Shadows, recueil du 21ième Fesival International de Hong Kong, Urban Council, Hong Kong, 1997, 82.
18. Gene Kelly had a perfect camera effects understanding, he wrote: “You learn to use the camera as part of the choreography,” in The Films of Gene Kelly : Song and Dance Man, Tony Thomas, ed. Citadel, Secaucus, New-Jersey, 1974, 24.
19.Sek Kei, “The Development of the ‘Martial Art’ in Hong Kong cinema,” A Study of the Hong-Kong Martial Arts Film, publié par Urban Council of Hong-Kong, Hong-Kong, 1980.
20. Yuen Wo-Ping, 176.
21. Richard Corliss, Time Magazine, sur le site officiel du film Crouching Tiger
22. Elvis Mitchell, THE NEW YORK TIMES
23. Scott Feschuk, THE NATIONAL POST
24. Stephen Garrett, TIME OUT NEW YORK
25. Chow Yun-Fat interviewé par le Time Magazine