Follow TV Tropes


Wire Fu

Go To

Dale: The guy got into a little, you know, stance. And I'd just seen that movie, Crouching Tiger or whatever, and I thought...
Judge Frasier: You thought he could fly?

A Live-Action Special Attack assisted by the fact that the actor is tethered to the ceiling.

A (comparatively) easy way to make a fight scene more impressive is to use fine wires to support the actor during acrobatics that would not be possible for a normal human: long lateral jumps, jumping "off the air", being thrown back by an explosion, or even hanging suspended. Wires can also be used to slow down an actor's movement without the undesirable side effects of Overcranking.

Wire Fu is an important device of the entire Toku genre and of cinematic genres such as Wuxia.

Also called "Wirework" (though that term is more general; "Wire Fu" usually refers only to the use of wirework for fight scenes).

Expensive and time-consuming, it is often now replaced by computer-generated effects.

Not to be confused with Master of Threads


    open/close all folders 


    Anime and Manga 

    Card Games 
  • The Munchkin card game set "Munchkin Fu" has a style card literally called Wire Fu. It gives a +6.
    • But prevents you from wearing armor.
    • There is also a monster -5 debuff "with visible wires"

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, the members of 4*Town use wires to give the impression that they can fly during their concert.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Wuxia films use Wire Fu to perform exaggerated feats of qinggong. For example, the films Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero (2002), and House of Flying Daggers demonstrate perhaps the ultimate achievement in Wire Fu that Western audiences have seen.
  • Wire Fu is noticeably absent in most Jackie Chan films; Chan insists on doing all his own stunts and eschews this technique. This has come to an end, however as Jackie Chan has gotten older.
  • The Matrix is this trope's Trope Codifier in the west.
  • Just about every single Jet Li film. His training just makes it look really good.
  • Spoofed in Wayne's World 2, during a fight between Wayne and Cassandra's father featuring leaps and flips with curiously flat trajectories.
  • Never one to leave a dead horse unbeaten, Mike Myers used this in Austin Powers in Goldmember with Fat Bastard, who — to make sure he was ready to fight Austin — shouted "I hope my wire-fightin' team's ready!" He is defeated when one wire snaps under his weight, leaving him dangling sideways in the air.
  • The teaser trailer for The Other Guys spoofs this by having the two main heroes striking a flying kick pose and firing guns before hitting each other in midair and swinging from their wires.
  • Averted in the "corridor fight" scene in Inception. When the one mook falls down a side corridor when gravity shifts to the side, the stuntman's fall was slowed by regular wirework, as were the parts when gravity completely stops. However, for the fight between Arthur and a mook when gravity is spinning out of control, the director went for an even more expensive and time consuming solution, building an entire set inside a huge metal cylinder that could actually be rotated. But it was completely worth the effort, as the result looks infinitely better than any Wire Fu. Because it IS real.
  • Heroic Trio seems to have been filmed with multiple wire-rigs working at once since practically every character knows wire-fu... and it is glorious.
  • There is a really out-of-place instance of this in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider The Cradle of Life, when Lara confronts the black market smuggler Chen Lo in a cavern. They engage in a martial arts battle, and at one point Lara jumps on the heads of Terracotta warrior statues as Chen Lo smashes them beneath her feet.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome played this straight by having the combatants in Thunderdome attached to elastic ropes. At one point Max gains a temporary advantage by cutting his opponent's ropes with his Blade on a Stick.
  • Hong Kil Dong is a North Korean martial arts movie done on a North Korean shoestring budget, but it features some surprisingly effective Wire Fu, most notably in the final scene where Kil Dong the martial arts hero is fighting the evil Japanese ninja.
  • The Ultra Series franchise uses this in its movies, especially the Ultraman Zero movies. The movies use it quite often because of their higher budget and because they're usually set in space, as opposed to the TV shows which almost never use the technique (and which are set on earth, with gravity).

  • The Stormlight Archive: This series's particular Not Quite Flight works by binding and redirecting the Surge of Gravitation, meaning that Surgebinders don't so much "fly" as "fall upwards" (or sideways, or whichever direction they want to go). It's repeatedly mentioned that this makes them look as though they're getting yanked around by invisible wires.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fight scenes in Angel made use of this in contrast to Buffy, where people only went flying into the air when kicked up there. One commenter on the show speculated that it was specifically moving to Los Angeles that granted vampires the ability to jump really high.
    • Buffy did make at least one use of wire fu that was gratuitously conspicuous.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Classic episode "The Web Planet", the Menoptera fight the Zarbi in this way. Justified because they are insects and can fly. The effect is actually good, and not just by the standards of the time.
    • The fish people in "The Underwater Menace" do this to simulate being underwater.
    • The weightless scenes on the outside of spaceships in "Frontier in Space" are done with quite visible wires.
  • GARO has a lot of wirework, surprisingly well done considering the heavy suits worn by the stuntmen and actors, and the fact that it's a TV show. Combined with chroma key and CG, some spectacular fights are produced. The Skyscraper fight in Makai Senki has to be seen to be believed.
  • Many Toku fans consider this trope to be one of Koichi Sakamoto's Director Trademarksnote . It's especially apparent in Kamen Rider Fourze (Sakamoto is the show's overall director), which is handwaved thanks to Fourze having a jetpack and Meteor being a Bruce Lee Clone. Likewise, Kamen Rider Double gained a fair bit of wirework in The Gaia Memories of Fate, which of course was directed by Sakamoto.
  • Power Rangers, in every episode. Surprisingly, Super Sentai (and big brother franchise Kamen Rider) use very little Wire Fu in comparison.
    • Used quite ludicrously on one episode: the Yellow Ranger is surrounded by Putties, leaps into the air, hovers for a few seconds (surely there was some Chroma Key involved here), falls back down to Earth, and then beats them up. The jump accomplished nothing, but the Red Ranger then compliments her on her "good move".
    • On another occasion (possibly from the very same episode), an out-of-costume Blue Ranger leaps into the air and lands with his legs around a Putty's head, killing it. That's right, he killed a guy with his crotch.
  • The female lead in the Korean drama Secret Garden is a stuntwoman whose specialties include Wire Fu. The workings of how it's done are demonstrated, and there are some spectacular finished scenes as well from the projects she's performing in.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Whenever Elnor does a flip in the air, Evan Evagora's stunt double is assisted by wirework. The character is super-agile, so the wires are necessary to portray his Fantastic Fighting Style. This is a slow-motion video of a stunt rehearsal from "Absolute Candor."
  • Xena: Warrior Princess makes copious use of Wire Fu in almost every episode.

    Music Videos 

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Pili series from Taiwan. Wire-fu puppets. Very awesome wire-fu puppets.

  • Batman Live is full of Wire Fu, all of which is used beautifully.
  • Cirque du Soleil examples:
    • Amaluna has "strap fu" fighting in its two aerial straps acts, especially the second one with the Valkyries.
    • K originally had a wire fu battle serving as its climax, but a performer fell to her death during a performance on June 29, 2013. Further performances were put on hold as a result, and when the show reopened it replaced the battle scene with a "Dressing Ritual". The scene was eventually reinstated in late 2014.
  • Responsible for the flying sequences in various stagings of Peter Pan, which includes aerial sword fighting.
  • The revised stage production of The Little Mermaid has Ariel and the other merfolk "swimming" on wires.


Video Example(s):


Sly vs. General Tsao

A duel between Tsao and Sly features them leaping between bamboo shoots in this manner. Hand waved by Bentley as a manifestation of the "fighting energy" from past battles in the area.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / WireFu

Media sources: