Since the three movies on Yip Man recently, everyone has become very familiar with Wing Chun, why did you want to do another one?
Joe Cheung: While there are various films on Wing Chun, including one by Yuen Wo Ping, there is none on the origin of Wing Chun. I have always been wanting to do a story on this as I have many friends who are Wing Chun practitioners. But there were some hurdles, Wing Chun’s origin can be traced to a young girl, but to cast someone young, who would definitely be lesser known, for this role, the investors would be reluctant, so there were many problems. As Ip Man was doing very well, when I talked to Ng See Yuen who advocates nurturing new talent, he was very supportive.
Ip Man 1 and 2, with a big name like Donnie Yen, did very well at the box office, but in Kung Fu Wing Chun, you’re using two newcomers, do you worry about the box office?
Joe Cheung: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried, but I have confidence in my films, and Ng See Yuen is also very confident of this theme, I thought to myself, as long as I shot the film well, the audience would like it, and it would naturally sell well.
How was Bai Jing picked to play Yan Yong Chun?
Joe Cheung: Upon deciding to do this movie about the development of Wing Chun, we auditioned over 200 people, eventually, 6 remained. After half a year of training, some gave up halfway, and coupled with various considerations, we eventually chose Bai Jing.
Joe Cheung: Master Yip Chun is taking in new disciples everyday.
Master Ip, how many disciples do you have in all?
Yip Chun: I have no idea.
Joe Cheung: 1/3 of his disciples and great-disciples are Chinese, 2/3 are foreigners. Many foreigners, many from Europe. Between 1981 and 2001, he travelled to Europe, to foreign countries, taking in lots of disciples, so he can’t even remember how many disciples he has.First published on wu-jing.org on October Sixteen, Twenty-ten
Yip Chun: All over the world, except for Southern America that I’ve not been to before. I’ve even been to South Africa, but South America is too far, takes too long on plane.
What do you think of your newest female disciple Bai Jing
Yip Chun: I only got to know Bai Jing yesterday night, and just watched Kung Fu Wing Chun today. When I met her yesterday, I found her to be an invigorating girl. Today, after seeing her film, and seeing how she was able to execute Wing Chun to such a high standard within such a short frame of time, I believe that she must have put in a lot of effort and hard work. As a martial arts practitioner myself, to excel in kungfu, you have to train daily, it takes a very great deal of effort to reach such a stage.
What about Kara Hui Ying Hung, who also does some Wing Chun in the film?
Yip Chun: Kara Hui is slightly better, I taught her.
For this film?
Yip Chun: Kara Hui is a martial arts star herself, so she is familiar of all kind of moves in an action film, not that she knows everything, but she has the groundwork, but she especially sought master Yip Chun’s mentorship for the sake of this film.
She became your disciple?
Yip Chun: No, it was Yip Man who started propagating Wing Chun a wider scale by, we don’t mind so much about formality.
Master Yip Chun, what are your views on the following Wing Chun films: Ip Man, Ip Man 2, Ip Man – The Legend is Born, and Kung Fu Wing Chun?
Joe Cheung: This is a very sensitive topic.
Yip Chun: Donnie Yen was taught by me, he trained very diligently, and meticulously researched on Yip Man’s personality, he acted very well as Yip Man, this is the result of his effort. The part where I appeared in Ip Man – The Legend is Born is the most orthodox. I have seen many kungfu films, but I feel that Kungfu Wing Chun is different from other films, for director Joe Cheung manages to blend romance and kungfu very well in this film, kungfu is not simply kungfu, love is not simply love, this is living, paving the way for a broader direction in the future.
In Kungfu Wing Chun, when Bai Jing learns Wing Chun, she is taught stage by stage, it’s like an instructional video. Master Yip Chun, do you approve of this segment? Would one be able to train oneself in Wing Chun based on this?
Joe Cheung: Definitely, it’s the correct way.
Yip Chun: Actually, especially with Wing Chun, we are very particular about one to one teaching, for you need another person to train with you, to feed you the moves.
Joe Cheung: When I was working on this film, I often chatted with Master Yip Chun, as well as many Wing Chun masters, including the one teaching Tony Leung right now. Wing Chun wasn’t very famous before, when training, it is very particular about the senses between two persons. Why did I shoot such a film? For no one has done it before, they would be an adept from the outset, but what makes one an adept? So, I shoot Gongfu Yongchun to tell everyone how a martial arts exponent comes into being.
So, one would be able to practise Wing Chun after watching this film, and this will become a major selling point of the film?
Joe Cheung: Aye, that’s what I hope. Actually, I’m combining a few genres together, the kungfu films in the past were kungfu comedies, like those with Jackie Chan , while this film is very realistic.
What kind of martial arts does Yu Shao Qun uses in Kung Fu Wing Chun?
Joe Cheung: He’s using Southern Fist, for he’s a Southerner.
What about Ngai Sing, he is using Snake Sect kungfu?
Joe Cheung: Right, but Ngai Sing employs Eagle Claw later. Why did I make his character a Snake Sect member? For Abbess Wu Mei was from White Crane Clan, for legend has it that be it Wing Chun or White Crane Fist, they were all inspired by movements of white crane. But I won’t do something like this, for he could either be a genius or a buffoon. Suppose I say that Wing Chun was derived from Snake and White Crane moves, for there was always a kin to spar with her, she would combine the two skills together.
Does Abbess Wu Mei hate Ngai Sing so much that she invents Wing Chun to counter him?
Joe Cheung: [Spoilers!] Actually, Abbess Wu Mei still loves him dearly, for after the death of her daughter, she vents her frustrations on a tree, this is like imagining the wooden dummy to be one’s opponent, I used some metaphors to relate to every Wing Chun legend, the Wing Ching practitioners might notice it. Wing Chun is a close-quarter combat, every move is very lethal, so there must be some kind of hatred in there, that’s why I wrote of Yu Shao Qun’s fake death, thereby resulting in Bai Jing’s outbursts of emotions later on.
Any words of recommendations on Kung Fu Wing Chun?
Yip Chun Apart from being a kungfu film, Kungfu Wing Chun is also a romance, it successfully combines martial arts with romantic elements, it also offers very good interpretation on the origins of Wing Chun, highly worth watching.
Joe Cheung: I agree with master Yip Chun. QQ, Ifensi | Photos: Xinhuanet
Kungfu Wing Chun opens in China on November 2, 2010.