Chinese media recently gained access to the set of Wilson Yip’s IP MAN 2 in Songjiang Studio, Shanghai where production is wrapping up with stars Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung filming their first screen duel since SPL. Yip was on hand to discuss the film and touched on topics including Sammo’s heart trouble, emphasis on drama in this sequel, actor Huang Xiao-ming’s screen fighting skills, and Bruce Lee’s first appearance in the trilogy. Thanks to translation from Wu-Jing.org, we’re able to reveal the details on what is shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated martial arts movies of 2010.
Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung in Ip MAN 2. (Sina)
IP MAN 2 is the first sequel in a planned semi-biographical trilogy on the life of 20th century Wing Chun master Ip Man. (AKA Yip Man), best known in the West as Bruce Lee’s martial arts instructor. The first film was a Hong Kong Film Award-winning smash hit that focused on Ip Man’s early adult life in Foshan where he struggled through Japanese occupation. Donnie Yen was nominated for Best Actor for his starring role while Sammo Hung and Tony Leung Siu-hung were jointly awarded Best Action Choreography.
The sequel puts Yen back into the role of Ip Man, this time as he settles in Hong Kong where he opens a Wing Chun school and comes into conflict with a local Hung Fist master named Hung Jan-nam, who is played by Sammo Hung. Although Ip Man is ultimately challenged by the British who rule the territory and their hired fighters, tensions between the two kung fu masters mount to where they are forced to duel.
According to Wilson Yip, the two actors had been planning this fight for a very long time. “I believe it will become a classic, surpassing the first IP MAN film as well as SPL,” said Yip. “As the duel takes place on such a small area (a round table), there will be an emphasis on the adroitness, and [it] will be very thrilling.”
While Yip has high hopes that this rematch between Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen will surpass their previous duel in SPL he has had to deal with serious concerns over Sammo Hung’s health. It was reported earlier this year that during production of IP MAN 2, Sammo Hung had been admitted to hospital to undergo heart surgery after suffering chest pain while on set. Although the procedure was a success and Hung quickly returned to filming, Yip made efforts to accommodate concerns over Hung’s health.
“We tried to shoot drama scenes first. In addition, we’d shoot action scenes in which he worked behind the camera first, pushing any action scenes involving him as an actor to the back,” said Yip. “However, being both the martial arts choreographer and the actor, Sammo Hung’s workload was still very [demanding]. Over the two, three months of filming, you cannot help but admire Sammo Hung’s attitude and perseverance. He’s always so full of zest when filming.”
A big question on everyone’s mind has been when audiences will first get to see Ip Man’s famous student Bruce Lee. Jiang Daiyan, a 10-year-old actor was selected to portray the late martial arts screen legend following an extensive talent search that focused largely on finding someone who looked like a young Bruce Lee.
“When filming the first installment, I was already being asked about Bruce Lee, though eventually, we didn’t have him,” said Yip. “In this sequel, we looked for a suitable candidate, and have completed his scenes. However, in the current 2.5 hours cut, I still have little inkling of which part of the film to put his scenes, and for how long.”
Regarding IP MAN 3, Donnie Yen suggested that he may not be reprising his role. “Because IP MAN 2 will incontrovertibly become a classic, bettering the first, I believe it’s best to end something when it’s at perfection, and leave behind a good memory,” said Yen.
“A successful film is a successful commercial product, once it has reached a certain position, I’d rather let it be a classic forever, as opposed to taking the risk to attempt outdoing it yet again. It would be very difficult to do the third installment. Perhaps, after a few years, when the director finds a new angle, we could talk about it later.”
Despite his misgivings about continuing this particular role and previous suggestion of an early retirement, Yen made it clear that he isn’t ready to give up making action movies any time soon. He cited plans for upcoming films that include THE LEGEND OF CHEN ZHEN, which begins production later this month, as well as a sequel to Daniel Lee’s upcoming martial arts actioner 14 BLADES.
“Every film I do is an actioner so after doing it I feel extremely worn out. At that time, I would often think of having an early retirement. But, after a bit of rest, I’d be raring to receive the next challenge, so, I [will] still be around for a while,” said Yen.
IP MAN 2 is currently scheduled for release in the summer of 2010.
Sources: Sina, Beijing Star Daily via Wu-Jing.org
Donnie Yen • Hung Fist • Ip Man 2 (2010) • Sammo Hung • upcoming • Wilson Yip • Wing Chun