(L-R) Producer Raymond Wong, Donnie Yen and Lynn Xiong.
After an absence of five years, "Ip Man" makes a return with the third instalment featuring Donnie Yen and Lynn Xiong reprising their roles as well as the addition of new cast members like Max Zhang Jin, Patrick Tam, Danny Chan as well as Mike Tyson!
The third film follows Ip Man as he faces a new threat in the form of Frank, a crooked property developer, played by former professional boxer Mike Tyson, who tries to take over town's local school. Meanwhile, Ip Man also has to deal with a new problem in his family.
Donnie Yen, Lynn Xiong and producer Raymond Wong came to Malaysia on 18 December 2015 to promote the final trilogy of the franchise as well as to greet the fans in Malaysia.
During the group interview session with the cast and producer, Cinema Online was given insight on the production of the film, the possibility for another sequel, the last minute inclusion of Mike Tyson and more!
Why did you decide to make another "Ip Man" film after 5 years?
Raymond: There are so many reasons, but the main one was because Donnie Yen is such a busy person! [laughs]
Donnie: That is not true!
Raymond: Secondly, it's because director Wilson Yip is also very busy, and it's also because I wanted to gather all the cast together again before shooting the next film.
There is another reason. After shooting the first two films, the reaction was very good. Then suddenly appeared a lot of other "Ip Man" films like "The Legend Is Born: Ip Man", "Ip Man: The Final Fight" and "The Grandmaster". Since there were so much film interpretations on "Ip Man", we were scared that the audience will get confused, so we decided to take a break for a while until the hype went down, then only did we start shooting the third one.
The cast and the producer during the media conference at JW Mariott Hotel.
Of all the Hollywood actors, why did you decide to choose Mike Tyson to be in the movie?
Donnie: It was a coincidence actually, it's all fate. When you make a film, sometimes it doesn't go exactly as you plan. One of the partners from this movie met Mike Tyson in Los Angeles. So he told Mike Tyson about "Ip Man 3". Coincidentally, Mike had already watched "Ip Man" 1 and 2, and he loved them. So he said that if he ever could be in a martial arts film, he would love to be in "Ip Man 3".
So, this partner asked Raymond if he wanted to include Mike into his already written script – we were already in the middle of shooting! Then, Raymond called his son Edmond Wong, who is the scriptwriter of the film, and his son said that it was almost impossible because it was quite last minute. Then Raymond spoke to the director and his son and discussed it. Thank God, the three of them came to an agreement that they could fit in Mike into the film.
For me, it was a pleasure to work with Mike Tyson. Everybody wants to see Ip Man fight his toughest opponent. So I think that it is the perfect element to help this instalment.
You mentioned that "Ip Man 3" is going to be your final instalment of the franchise.
Donnie: Actually, after finishing "Ip Man 2" I didn't feel like doing another "Ip Man" film. Because it is difficult for an actor to find a role that represents yourself. After the success of the first and second "Ip Man" films, I was looking for opportunities to act in other roles. In these five years, I've acted in a lot of films, so I feel very satisfied.
But actually I wished to leave a deep impression on the audience via my character Ip Man, so after "Ip Man 2" I felt reluctant to accept "Ip Man 3", unless we could find a new angle. So, I am really grateful that the director insisted for me to star in the third film, and it was successfully shot. But if you want me to shoot again, I'm not very sure about it. [laughs] I asked Raymond and Wilson on how they would want to continue the story, because for now, I can't think of any new angles. But it all depends on the producer and director. If they can find a new angle or idea, I may consider the fourth film.
Raymond: After "Ip Man 2", there are too many "Ip Man" type films. So we're scared that the audience would get bored of the same kind of film, that's why we waited for quite some time before proceeding with the third one. This also gave us more time to improve on the third film. So if everyone loves "Ip Man 3", we would definitely challenge ourselves to do even better via "Ip Man 4".
Donnie: I wanted to share something. Even though I have tried so many different roles before, a lot of people overseas would still remember me as Ip Man. No matter where I am, people would always refer to me as Ip Man, instead of Donnie Yen. But I think it's kind of great. Because of this role, everyone recognises me! The impact is very deep. So I think that this is fate, I never thought that I could become so famous through this role.
Donnie explaining the impact of his role.
What is your expectation for the film in Malaysia?
Raymond: Of course we hope that it would perform well. We hope that it can at least exceed RM20 million.
Donnie: I didn't say that okay! [laughs] I think when it comes to numbers; I usually leave it to the investors and bosses. I think that actors and bosses have different views. I would rather act in a movie that can make people remember me, than in a movie that makes a lot of money.
Would you say that this film is the one where you put the most effort in, seeing that it centrals more on the romance between you and Donnie's characters?
Lynn: Yes. I think my role in this film was probably the hardest in the franchise. Donnie is improving more and more in each film, and he did a lot of homework. So after seeing him like this, I thought that I need to do something too. Plus, the director placed a lot of trust in me by giving me more screen time, so I didn't want to disappoint him. That's why I made sure to force myself to do the best that I can for this film, especially since my role this time is super important.
Lynn plays Donnie's wife in "Ip Man" series.
The Bruce Lee CGI for this film was not used as first planned?
Raymond: No, we couldn't. At first we thought of portraying a realistic Bruce Lee in this film, we even talked to Bruce's brother, Robert Lee about it. But in the end, we couldn't do it because some of the family members were against the idea. So we decided not to do it. That's why Bruce Lee's character didn't get a lot of screen time in the movie and we got Danny Chan to play the role instead.
What is different in this "Ip Man" movie compared to the others?
Donnie: In this instalment, when producer Raymond and Wilson approached me to do the third film, some reporters asked me if I had a lot of pressure on reprising this role. I told them that I have no pressure at all because the pressure is going to be on Raymond and Wilson. Because after the first and second films, I believed that the audience have already embraced the image of me as Ip Man, so I'm not going to change my performance, I don't think the audience would want to see another type of interpretation to the character. Therefore, all I need to do was continue the storyline, but the pressure would be on the storyline as well as the elements that we inject in this film, which one of the examples is that we have Mike Tyson. It also comes to what kind of message we would want to deliver to the audience.
Although the first, second and third films are different, the central message remains the same – it's about a family man. If you have watched the previous films, you would know that in the first film, the theme was survival, the second film's theme was making a living, while the third one was life itself. How does Ip Man deal with life? Even though he's a grandmaster, he's very capable in almost anything and very powerful, but everyone face problems in life every day. So it doesn't matter if you're a grandmaster or normal husband.
International audience often mispronounced Ip Man (Yip Man) as I.P Man instead.
In this film, you have fight scenes using different kind of martial arts, how do you approached the choreography, was it hard?
Donnie: No, not really. First of all, as you all may know, I have been in the martial arts business for a very long time, over 30 years now. And I have quite a number of different action films, a total of 70 movies. For me, it is always approaching the characters before the style of the fighting. It doesn't matter if I play an undercover spy or a historical figure, I will first identify his background and characteristic before I approached the style. Obviously Ip Man is a Wing Chun grandmaster, so I have to portray him properly as a Wing Chun practitioner.
In this film, there is a scene where you have to dance. Do you find any challenges with this particular scene?
Donnie: I'm sure some of you have watched some of the comedy movies that I have done with Raymond Wong previously where I dance and sing. In fact, my second film which was over 30 years ago was a movie about breakdancing. So actually, music has always been a part of my upbringing. He's (refer to Raymond) very lucky that he has this person who can fight and dance at the same time.
Donnie takes his time talking to the press.
The film would be in cinemas on the 24th? Do you all have any plans for Christmas?
Donnie: With my family of course. I just come back on the 14th from London, as I just finished shooting the latest "Star Wars". I spent five months there and I really missed my family. I had two breaks during the whole five months. I went back to Hong Kong during every break and every time I went back I noticed my kids growing taller every time. I feel really bad as a father; I want to witness my kids growing up. So, I'm just going to have a relaxing time with my family.
Lynn: I'm going on a vacation with my family. It's just that.
Raymond: I'm just going to stay in Hong Kong during Christmas. I want to see how the movie performs in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. I hope there will be good news.
The movie opens almost the same time as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Having to fight with the film here, do you any confidence in "Ip Man 3"?
Raymond: Yes, I do!
Donnie: I think that audience should have a choice to watch more than one film, because at the end of the day you are the consumer. This is not a monopolising film industry. So I think we should have more than one choice.
"Ip Man 3" comes to cinemas this 24 December 2015.
Cinema Online, 24 December 2015