Max Zhang in "Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy".
Like all Chinese and Hong Kong martial arts actors, the Chongqing-born Max Zhang (Zhang Jin) was a nobody during the early stages of his career.
1) Max Zhang vs. Zhang Ziyi in "The Grandmaster" (2013)
After getting his start as a stuntman in Ang Lee's award-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in 2000, he slowly worked his way up and gradually appeared in numerous supporting roles in movies like "The Grandmaster", "From Vegas To Macau" and "Rise Of The Legend".
He eventually found his fame as one of the most promising martial arts actors working today, particularly for his impressive and nimble martial arts prowess. And over the last few years, he has fought notable martial arts stars like Donnie Yen, Wu Jing and Tony Jaa. In his latest action movie "Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy", Max Zhang reprises his role as Cheung Tin-Chi from 2015's "Ip Man 3" and played the lead role in the franchise's first-ever spinoff.
The highly-anticipated Yuen Woo-Ping's martial arts drama has already garnered lots of buzz since its world premiere in the recent Busan International Film Festival which took place from 4th to 13th October this year.
Let's take a look at the five best Max Zhang fight scenes in movies based on the year of release below.
Max Zhang plays Ma San in the award-winning martial arts drama, "The Grandmaster".
This is the movie that finally put Max Zhang in the Hong Kong movie spotlight. He even made headlines by winning the Best Supporting Actor at the 33rd Hong Kong Film Awards, beating other notable nominees like Eddie Peng for "Unbeatable" and screen veteran Anthony Chan Yau for "Rigor Mortis". Wong Kar-Wai's Ip Man biopic is also notable for its balletic action sequences choreographed by none other than Yuen Woo-Ping. Among them is a one-on-one fight scene between Max Zhang's Ma San against Zhang Ziyi's Gong Er on a train platform against a nighttime backdrop filled with falling snow. Despite some obvious CGI involving a moving train, the fight scene itself is both graceful and elegant that showcased each of the respective fighter's martial arts technique and coordination with meticulous precision.
2) Max Zhang vs. Eddie Peng in "Rise Of The Legend" (2014)
Max Zhang faces off against Eddie Peng in "Rise Of The Legend".
When Roy Chow (2009's "Murderer", 2012's "Nightfall") was tasked to revive the once-popular story of legendary martial arts master Wong Fei-Hung in the big screen, "Rise Of the Legend" looks promising enough. Too bad the execution is entirely beside the point, as the so-called epic revival suffers from heavy-handed exposition and erratic pacing. The movie still has its few redeeming qualities, namely the supporting appearance played by Max Zhang who engages in a sword battle against Eddie Peng's young Wong Fei-Hung role. The action sequence is choreographed by Corey Yuen using a mix of elaborate wirework that was enhanced with CGI, giving it an overall gritty and heavily-stylised look.
3) Max Zhang vs. Wu Jing & Tony Jaa in "SPL II: A Time For Consequences" (2015)
Max Zhang (middle) single-handedly fights against Wu Jing and Tony Jaa
in "SPL II: A Time For Consequences".
The namesake but non-related sequel of "SPL II: A Time For Consequences" may have been no match to the superior 2005 predecessor headlined by Donnie Yen in terms of its action sequences and storytelling, but this star-studded sequel remains a worthy follow-up, thanks to the notable casting of Wu Jing, Tony Jaa and most of all, Max Zhang in a memorable antagonist role as the suave and ruthless prison warden. Apart from looking sharp with his well-dressed appearance, he even proves himself a worthy opponent against not one but two fighters played by Wu Jing and Tony Jaa. The three-way fight scene during the climactic finale is easily the highlight of the movie, even though it relies heavily on Li Chung-Chi's extensive wirework, it is also hard to ignore the scene altogether. Besides, how often you get to see three current best Asian fighters battling against each other in a single movie?
4) Max Zhang vs. Donnie Yen in "Ip Man 3" (2015)
Max Zhang who plays Cheung Tin-Chi takes on Donnie Yen's Ip Man in "Ip Man 3".
Donnie Yen has fought martial arts adversaries such as Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Sammo Hung, the late Darren Shahlavi and even Mike Tyson over the course of three "Ip Man" movies, but it was his encounter against Max Zhang, who plays his Wing Chun rival practitioner in "Ip Man 3" that tops the most. In fact, it was Max Zhang's amazing speed and agility in showcasing his nifty martial arts skill making his arrogant Cheung Tin-Chi role a worthy adversary against Donnie Yen. The final fight where they squared off each other behind closed doors is easily the best climactic third-act finale ever made in the "Ip Man" franchise so far.
5) Max Zhang vs. The Knife-Wielding Assassin in "The Brink" (2017)
Max Zhang faces a knife-wielding silent assassin in "The Brink".
"The Brink" marks the first time former stuntman-turned-actor Max Zhang finally graduating from playing second fiddles to leading-man status. Rocking a radical gangster cop-like appearance that comes complete with a bleached-blonde hairstyle and flashy wardrobe, Max Zhang excels the most in the action department. A particular action setpiece worth mentioning here is the extended fight scene in the open-air parking space, where he encounters a knife-wielding silent assassin. At one point, Max is forced to fight the assassin with one hand while his other hand is handcuffed to a suspect (Tai Bo), an impressively choreographed martial arts display by Li Chung-Chi that single-handedly became the most memorable action scene in this movie.
Cinema Online, 29 December 2018