At Ip Man 2 press conference on March 23, 2010, Donnie Yen boldly declares, “While there are a handful of Yip Man projects out there, this is the one and only film everyone has actually seen. So, from my standpoint, there is only one Ip Man film – the one I acted in. Yip Man is an otaku who fights very well, the movie’s success has nothing to do with Wing Chun (Spring).
Ip Man’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the third instalment?
Not wanting to repeat himself, Donnie Yen doesn’t wish to do Ip Man 3, “I’m very honoured to have been in both instalments of Ip Man, I’m very happy about Ip Man 2. If you were to ask, would there be Ip Man 3, I really have no idea of who to fight… let me fight aliens then. I just viewed the the promo reel of Ip Man 2, I really feel that it’s not possible to shoot the third instalment, unless we shoot Bruce Lee. I believe that there is a bigger risk when you shoot more than 2 films on the same subject matter, there is no quality assurance, so I won’t do Ip Man 3.
“As an actor, I wish to elevate myself, without the fighting spirit, I could only rely on reprising an older work like Ip Man. Many actors are not adventurous enough. I hope to challenge myself. There are two ways to approach a film, one is landing a role that suits you, another is you bring the character alive. I admit that Yip Man’s personalities were a mite close to mine, but I still hope my ‘acting’ would be acknowledged.
“The most difficult part when filming Ip Man was not the action, it was less taxing physically compared to running all over the streets in Bodyguards and Assassins, or roaming the desert in 14 Blades. I’m not saying that Wing Chun was not difficult, but it’s the portrayal of the character that was the most challenging. Do not think that the commercial value of this film lies only in the martial arts sequences; the characters are the most difficult, having to discover the subtle, finer points. To act when fighting, that’s truly tough.
“I will fight till no one watches me. But to an actor, how much earnings are enough? I make money for the sake of my kids, and to leave behind a legacy for Chinese kungfu films. An actor, is in a way an influential kind of social standards. If I were to act as a villain, a very powerful one, many youths would pick up after me. Yet, a villain’s pay is always lesser than the good guys, so why should I play a villainous character? All these years, it’s been like this, everyone thinks that I’m retiring soon, but I’ll shoot a few more films, and keep on pestering you.
“I have directed some films in the past, and lost lots of money. To direct a film, you have to invest more than a year’s time in it. After Ip Man, I have already done 5 films. But what of director Wilson Yip? He’s still doing Ip Man 2. Time is precious, I’d rather not be a director.
“Since Painted Skin, I started discovering my ability as an actor. I was in a happy and relaxed mood when filming Painted Skin, so the outcome was very good, very funny, and it was then that I realised I could act. When I watched my earlier works, I was startled at how bad I acted back then. How I wished I could do them all over again. So, now, I keep checking myself everyday, on how to act even better.”
When being asked, Donnie Yen doubts it’s possible for him to collaborate with Wong Kar Wai, “He won’t look me up, moreover, if I were to shoot his film, I might go bankrupt, it takes such a long time.”
Raymond Wong plans Yen-Jaa collaboration
Producer Raymond Wong says that Sammo Hung is very, very professional in work, “While doing a scene, he was hit in the head by a Westerner, passing out right away, worrying all of us. When he was treated and regained consciousness, there was blood on his mouth. We wanted to send him to the hospital without delay, but he refused adamantly, insisting on finishing the day’s schedule before going to the hospital. Such is the typical attitude of the filmmakers of the previous generation.”
Raymond Wong adds that Ip Man would stop at the second film for now, “When we shot the first film, it was based on factual events, we were more cautious in our approach, for it was meant his descendants, as well as the audience. After the success of the first, in the second, we’re more imaginative, exercising more creative latitude. But, now, with too many other Yip Man films on the market, we don’t have the intention to do it any more.”
And so, Raymond Wong is moving on to the pre-production of another project for Donnie Yen, a contemporary actioner that will potentially see team him up with Tony Jaa, fighting from The Great Wall, through Hong Kong, to South Africa.
Wilson Yip says, Yes to Ip Man 3
While both Donnie Yen and Rayomond are not keen on a third Ip Man film, director Wilson Yip doesn’t rule out the possibility, “”I can do three instalments at most on the subject matter of Yip Man. When I was filming the first, everyone asked about Bruce Lee. At that time, I had already thought of tracing the story until Bruce Lee’s death in 1972. So, it’s not a problem to shoot sequels, for I have already considered some of these stories. The second instalment is about Yip Man’s life in Hong Kong, and accepting his first disciple.
“If I were to shoot Ip Man 3, then it must be on Yip Man and Bruce Lee. But I have to emphasise that it’s really, really difficult to find a Bruce Lee actor, it would be very problematic if not handled well. I hope to find one with the looks, but at the same time, he must be trained in martial arts and be a self-possessed actor. But the audience would only want to see one who looks very much like Bruce Lee. If I couldn’t find a suitable person, it’d be very difficult to shoot the third instalment.
“To Donnie Yen, to play the same character and still improve upon it is indeed very hard, but he has done a great job in the sequel. Being set in 1950s Hong Kong, everything has changed since Ip Man left Foshan, so Donnie Yen watched lots of Cantonese films of the era, to observe how the actors acted back then, and he has become very natural. He is no more a kungfu star, but a good actor acknowledged by everyone.
“As a form of tribute to old school kungfu movies, a few older Hong Kong martial arts stars were invited play masters of different schools. There are three types of kungfu being pitted against Wing Chun in this scene, very thrilling. Ip Man 2 succeeds the hardcore fighting of the original, as we are not shooting a wuxia film. Rather than fighting on a rope, we put two people on the table, the one who falls, loses.
“In this film, the Caucasian fighter (Darren Shahlavi) has his own drama, he is also a personage, not just some random foreign guy that appears from nowhere for the sake of getting beaten up, like you see in other films. Only when there is a conflict of interests would there be a duel in the arena, eventually demonstrating the theme of mutual respect, this is a very satisfactory ending.” Bandao Morning News, Information Times, Sina