Heard that you hurt yourself when filming but still insisted on carrying on? Was it very serious?
Sammo Hung: Yes, I still kept on filming after being injured. You could say it was serious, you could also say it’s not serious, did not matter. Darren Shahlavi dared not hit me initially. But I compelled him to strike, but he was still holding back, so the outcome wasn’t very good and we kept doing retakes.
Eventually, he struck at full force, and I collapsed and fainted, there was blood in my nose and mouth, I couldn’t talk. Then we continued filming for another five hours, before I was rushed to the hospital, and my face was given 4 stitches. My kneecap was also injured, still hasn’t fully recovered.
You were used to it?
Sammo Hung: Not exactly, but you had to finish something, rather than bogging down everyone else.
What about your health, your heart condition?
Sammo Hung: I’m fine now, after having undergone surgery.
Ip Man 2 reflects the conditions of martial arts fraternity in Hong Kong, such as Hung Clan and protection fee collection, were they real?
Sammo Hung: Semi-real, semi-fictitious. We were under the control of the Britons, and had to collect protection fees on their behalf. They had been oppressing us, so there were many riots back then, but still, no one dared stand up. So, these things are shown in the film, they had been pressurising us for far too long.
What about Donnie Yen setting up a martial arts school in Hong Kong and having to face challenges from other clans?
Sammo Hung: Actually, they were such unwritten rules, many people would come to challenge you, but it won’t be such an elaborate affair like in Ip Man 2, there was indeed such a tradition.
The duel on the round table was especially exciting, haven’t seen such kungfu for years, how did you come up with such an idea?
Sammo Hung: With the brains, it’s very difficult to explain how I came up with it, every little details, where to position the table and such. It was the director Wilson Yip who broached it. So, I pondered over it, on how to fight on the table, and in what ways so that it would look fantastic, as well as laying out the overturned benches to form a certain formation.
What was the biggest difficulty when filming?
Sammo Hung: There wasn’t any problem at all, for I had all the action worked out, so, didn’t encounter any difficulties when filming.
Before you, there were two other challengers, what was Fung Hak On using, it looked weird?
Sammo Hung: Eight Trigram Palm, walking here and there, for that’s the traits of Eight Trigram Palm, actually, we added some kind of dramatic feel there.
Wasn’t it a mockery at such a form of martial arts for emphasizing postures more than practical combat?
Sammo Hung: No, I wasn’t mocking at it. Actually, every kungfu exponent has their own means of handling a fight, though it’s on but a tiny tabletop, he would still move around. Initially, he is able to move freely, but after a few moves, Ip Man would not let him have his way, this is more the sake of dramatic effect. So, when you shoot something, you have to make the audience feel as if they have never seen something like this before. As long as you dare to shoot in such a way, fight in this manner, they would be glad, and would be able to accept it.
The duel between Donnie Yen and I took us 8 days to shoot, and everything went on very smoothly. We were all suspended on wires and whenever the table was titled, our assistants would help support us. Donnie Yen has maintained his stamina and physical prowess in top form, it wasn’t any different than when we did SPL, except that SPL was more modern, but the style here is different, and he had to tackle it as a grand master.
I feel that Ip Man 2’s action is more aggressive than the first.
Sammo Hung: I have clean forgotten my own look and feel. What I choreograph depends what what the director is after, and what he tells me, and I would think along that line, based on the situation. Being immersed in the drama is the most important, otherwise, however you fight, the audience won’t feel anything.
The two fights against Western boxer is not as thrilling as Hung Gar vs Wing Chun, is Western boxing more difficult to portray?
Sammo Hung: Exactly, Western boxing is harder to choreograph as it’s limited to those few moves, it’s about the setting.
In other words, it lacks appreciation factor compared to Chinese kungfu routines?
Sammo Hung: That’s why you only see kungfu routines being performed on the stage. They don’t hold any shows for Western boxing.
Liu Chia Liang said that the Wing Chun used in Ip Man was not authentic, was it modified?
Sammo Hung: Everything has been altered, a film is something artistically produced.
Heard that you sought Liu Chia Liang’s counsel for this role, what suggestions did he give you?
Sammo Hung: He said, sorry, he was working on Wong Kar Wai’s The Great Master, and had to keep his own counsel, so, I had to do my own homework.
Compared to your previous works on Wing Chun, such as Warriors Two, the martial arts sequences are rather different. The chain punch in Ip Man was never seen before.
Sammo Hung: Times have changed, and Ip Man is closer to our present era, less than a hundred years, right? While Leung Tsan belonged to an earlier period, 200 years ago. Times are different, for example, our diction is different compared to 500 years ago. So, the way the martial arts scenes are handled is different too.
Donnie Yen is also an outstanding action director, but we only see your name as the choreographer in both Ip Man the original and Ip Man 2. Did you take care of everything or would also seek his counsel?
Sammo Hung: While he would offer some suggestions, he listened to me totally.
Seems that you are the only one in the industry who could take on Donnie Yen?
Sammo Hung: Not really, whoever the director invites would be able to face Donnie Yen. If the director didn’t invite me, I wouldn’t be fighting.
You have worked with director Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen for a couple of times, and the three of you working together are often labelled ‘iron triangle’ collaboration, how do you assess them?
Sammo Hung: Both of them are wonderful people, great working partners, hope to work with them again, very happy.
You said this would be your last fight onscreen?
Sammo Hung: No, if I come across a good script, that has a fulfilling role, I would still be fighting. Netease, Southern Metropolis Daily