Martial arts legend Bruce Lee is known for his lightning-fast fists and high-flying kicks. But behind his remarkable talent and skill lies a revered Kung Fu legend – Ip Man. Now, for the first time, the story of this esteemed master has been finally told in the new film IP MAN.
IP MAN is adapted from the life story of Ip Man, the grand master of the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu and sifu (master) of legendary martial arts superstar Bruce Lee. Wing Chun has a history of more than 200 years. It was founded by Yim Wing Chun, took root in the hands of Leung Chun, and prospered with Ip Man. This film is the first important record of the master’s life.
The story of Wing Chun began in the 1920s and 30s, in war-torn China. Ip Man was martial art’s unyielding follower, devoted wholeheartedly to the free learning of wushu. The fight to be top between the Wushu schools in the southern and northern regions of China did not stop him from having goodwill matches with other practitioners. However, Ip Man was ultimately forced to use his martial arts skills to defend his country’s honor against the invading Japanese.
“Our creativity team came up with many subjects and one of them caught my attention – instead of spectacular stunts and stylized violence, we decided to go back to the basics and make a film on Chinese wushu,” reveals producer Raymond Wong.
He adds, “Ip Man’s story has never been told on the big screen. Bruce Lee showed the world the incredible strength and uniqueness of Chinese wushu and the legend of Wing Chun master Ip Man, his mentor who nurtured his skills and beliefs in martial arts definitely deserves more recognition. Master Ip Chun (Ip Man’s son) and I came up with a general direction for the film, and the project officially began.”
Wong adds that he came up with an initial concept and then told Director Yip Wai-shun about the ideas. A huge fan of Bruce Lee and deeply interested in the legend of Ip Man, Yip Wai-shun was very excited about the project.
“What we wanted to present was his (Ip Man) response to the chaos of war, how he conducted himself in times of war and how he overcame the changing circumstances…it was not about constructing a hero. It was about his influence on martial arts and people,” shares the director.
In order to make the role of Ip Man as convincing as possible, actor Donnie Yen started learning wing chun as soon as he received the script and shed more than 10 pounds to match Ip’s slim figure. To prepare for the trying role, he also read piles of books on Ip Man and Wing Chun. “I practiced with wooden dummies every day in order to demonstrate Wing Chun properly. With a martial arts background, I had no problem picking up Wing Chun. The hardest thing was to put aside everything I’ve learned and clear my mind for pure wing chun practice. This was really challenging but I knew this was a must if I were to portray the essence of Wing Chun,” says Yen.
Bruce Lee may be considered the greatest and most influential martial artist of the twentieth century. But he would not have reached this status without the teachings of Ip Man. Now, see how his story comes alive as IP MAN opens on May 13 at your favorite cinemas. IP MAN is a Viva International Pictures release.