Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sammo Hung vs. Donnie Yen in 'Ip Man' sequel

New details have emerged about the highly anticipated follow-up to Wilson Yip's hit Wing Chun movie IP MAN. Donnie Yen will be returning in the title role as expected and he will be fighting action director Sammo Hung but as negotiations with Bruce Lee's family are still underway, a young Bruce will not be depicted in this film, although he is expected to appear in a third and final film as Ip's student.

As a result of these negotiations the original plan to shoot both sequels side-by-side has been scrapped. Production on IP MAN 2 will commence in August and IP MAN 3 will be shot separately at a later date.

The big news is that Sammo will be stepping out from behind the camera this time to spar with Donnie on screen, the first time since their epic fight in KILL ZONE (aka SPL) in 2005. The set up is that Ip Man (Yen) is attempting to establish himself as a kung fu instructor in Hong Kong in 1949 but Wing Chun is viewed there as being only for girls or presumably girly men. Enter Sammo Hung as a master of Hung Gar, which is seen as a more manly fighting style. The two develop a rivalry that results in sparring. Obviously, Ip will be out to prove that Wing Chun is just as manly, something he already established for audiences in the first film.

Returning in the sequel will be Fan Siu-wong as a former gang leader and Ip Man's adversary who settles down and becomes Ip's friend. Gordon Lam is also returning. He will continue to play a police officer but this time having found work in Hong Kong.

IP MAN 2 is only one of several projects for Donnie Yen who is now finding himself in the enviable position of being viewed as one of China's hottest actors and not just action stars. With his films PAINTED SKIN and IP MAN both performing strong at the box office and the latter resulting in a Best Actor nomination at the Hong Kong Film awards, Yen's stock has risen considerably this year. His 10 million yuan salary for IP MAN went up 50 percent for the sequel and he's now being offered roles outside of the action genre.

"I was even approached to be in a romance this year," said Yen. "However, I had to decline due to schedule conflicts. This year, I wish to challenge different roles, to go beyond the limits of my histrionics, so the characters I accept have to give the audience a different feel."

Yen is shooting four movies this year; Teddy Chan's DARK OCTOBER, Daniel Lee's IMPERIAL GUARD, IP MAN 2, and one of two unnamed films that the actor hasn't decided on yet. Despite this busy schedule, Yen asserts that his focus remains on IP MAN 2.


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