Tiger Chen: From
Sichuan to Hollywood
Chengdu Evening News, 11 June 2004
Liu Du Juan
He is Yuen Wo Ping's protege. He is Keanu Reeves' teacher. He is Uma Thurman's
stunt double. He received World Stunt Awards nominations for Matrix 2 and, as
part of Yuen Clan member, Kill Bill 2 on 16 May 2004. He is Tiger Chen (Chen Hu).
Tiger Chen enrolled into Sichuan Wushu Team at the age of 8 and had since won numerous wushu competitions in Mainland.
He could not speak English when he moved to USA at the age of 19. But now, he is very fluent in it. In US, he was honoured all-around
Karate Champion as well as having won gold medals in Taichi, Sabre and Staff competitions. And
that was how he became recognised by Yuen Wo Ping and joined the Yuen Clan. When
The Matrix was auditioning martial arts directors, Warner Brothers' top executive
lacked confidence in Chinese martial arts. So, Yuen Wo Ping told Tiger Chen to
perform a set of fistplay, which greatly impressed that executive, insofar as
secretly studying under him. His first Hollywood project was The Matrix, and his
job was to train the international stars. However, he also lamented, "It's very
taxing working in this line. It's very common that we do not have much sleep
during filming. And martial arts directors and stunt professionals get injured
easily; I broke my shoulder thrice, and legs twice."
"Mentor Yuen Wo Ping may be wise, but looks otherwise. He's rather slow-witted
in his daily life. When moving home, Yuen Wo Ping needed me to set up the TV
and DVD player. Often, I would be with him for meals or when seeing a doctor. He
treats me like his own son. Nowadays, he only oversees the movie, while I am the
one who choreographs the martial arts sequences and teach them to the actors."
Tiger Chen commented about his mentor deferentially.
Having worked with various Hollywood celebrities, Tiger Chen said, " Keanu Reeves
isn't gifted, but was very hardworking. Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz are very
While Lucy Liu is an American-born Chinese, she has deep affections for Chinese.
She would teach me English in her free times, while I teach her Chinese. Uma
Thurman just gave birth when shooting Kill Bill and had put on weight
considerably. So she went on diet and slimmed down in no time. When filming Kungfu Hustle, Stephen Chow did all fight scenes himself. He often
looked me up to
experiment with fight sequences when off-camera."
Having served as the martial arts choreographer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon, The Matrix trilogy, Charlie's Angels and Kill Bill, Tiger Chen felt that
there was no one to succeed Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen, for
"the youngsters are rather impatient." Tiger Chen made his first, albeit short,
screen appearance, as one of the henchmen of Merovingian. He was praised by the Wachowski
brothers for his for performance on the screen. In January 2004, Tiger Chen
accompanied Yuen Wo Ping to Sichuan's Mt Ermei and Jiuzhaiogou to scout
locations for Golden Dragon, in which he will also be acting. He is publishing a
biography on venturing into Hollywood. The book features Keanu Reeves, Lucy Liu,
Cameron Diaz and Yuen Woo Ping. Tiger Chen's ambition is "do some suitable movies
and become the next Jackie Chan!"