《叶问前传》 Ip Man the Prequel (tentative) has begun production in Hong Kong on November 7. Herman Yau is directing this film, produced by Sin Kwok Lam. Ip Chun serves as the film’s advisor and will cameo as Yip Man’s second mentor Leung Bik. Under invitation from Foshan government, 2/3 of the scenes from Ip Man the Prequel will be shot on location in Foshan, including the original village Ip Man lived in.
Ip Man the Prequel explores the growing years of Ip Man, from when he’s a kid studying abroad in Hong Kong, to his return to Foshan. It gives a detailed account of Yip Man’s mastering of Wing Chun – providing a blow by blow showcase of Wing Chun – and his acquaintance with his wife.
As one of the investors behind Ip Man and Ip Man the Prequel, Sin Kwok Lam failed to engage Wilson Yip, who’d rather stay focused on one project at a time. He says that as Wilson Yip has to take care of Ip Man 2’s post-production, he doesn’t want to be distracted, and thus they hired Herman Yau to direct the prequel. And to ride on the coattails of Ip Man’s success, and push out both movies while the iron is still hot, they couldn’t wait for Wilson Yip to finish Ip Man 2, “Ip Man the Prequel is set for release at end of April, while Ip Man to opens at around late June next year.”
Being Yip Chun’s disciple and a Wing Chun descendant, Sin Kwok Lam welcomes competition on the same theme from Wong Kar Wai, as the propagation of Yip Man’s spirit is more important, “When we were producing Ip Man, Wong Kar Wai had also approached Mr Yip Chun. I feel that it’s a benign competition. And Wong Kar Wai is an international director, we believe that his work wouldn’t be too shabby, just that our approaches are different.”
Yip Man will be portrayed by To Yu Hang, who is a Wing Chun practitioner and the youngest person in the history of Hong Kong to clinch World Wushu Championships gold medal. He was the martial arts advisor on Ip Man and made an appearance as Fan Siu Wong’s underling. He plays Sammo Hung’s disciple in Ip Man 2, gaining plenty of advices from him. Sin Kwok Lam says that there is paucity of younger martial arts stars in the industry, and we should give more chances to the newcomers, in order to groom them.
Betty Huang Yi is playing Yip Man’s girlfriend Zhang Yong Cheng, one who speaks her mind and dares openly to show her emotions, be they love or hate, in a more conservative era. Huang Yi indicates that girls should have character, if Zhang Yong Cheng was too weak, she couldn’t have been together with Yip Man.
Huang Yi has to train in Wing Chun too. She says that she has an accord with Sin Kwok Lam, “I promised to train hard in Wing Chun, Mr Sin guaranteed to cast me in another film, and let me play Wing Chun’s founder Yan Yong Chun.”
Sin Kwok Lam explains that he’s planning to produce a film revolving around Yan Yong Chun, and also hopes to bring a few other Wing Chun masters onto the silver screen.
Fan Siu Wong‘s affinity with Ip Man franchise can be traced to Ip Man whereby he played a northern kungfu master Jin Shan Zhao. In Ip Man 2, his character was retained and scenes increased. And in Ip Man the Prequel, Fan Siu Wong shed 8 pounds in a month for the role, “I’m no longer the villain, not the crude fighter from the north. I’m Yip Man’s first senior, a refined person. Look, I have even shaved my beard.”
Yuen Biao, one of the first kungfu stars to be doing Wing Chun onscreen, is playing 2nd senior Ng Chung Sok, one who’s behind mentoring Ip Man most of the time. Yuen Biao is currently planning Seven Little Fortunes film franchise and TV series, slated for production next year.
Xu Jiao and Rose Chan will respectively play the young and grown-up Mei Hui, the junior with whom Yip Man grew up in company. Lam Suet plays the village chief who has two daughters, one of whom is Huang Yi. Netease, Sina