The commercial success of "Ip Man" - about the kung fu mentor of Bruce Lee - has prompted its producers to shoot a sequel, "Ip Man 2," but Lee won't appear until "Ip Man 3."
Shooting will begin in August in suburban Songjiang District.
The biopic-action film "Ip Man" about Yip Man, a master of Wing Chun kung fu, took 120 million yuan (US$17.7 million) in Chinese mainland box offices and 25 million yuan in Hong Kong.
Bruce Lee, who later went on to develop his own style of martial arts, became an apprentice of Yip in the 1960s. His character hasn't yet appeared in his master's story.
"Bruce Lee might not be appearing in the immediate sequel, or at least not until the third movie," director Wong says. "The script hasn't yet reached Lee's part as Lee became Yip's apprentice in the 1960s."
The film by Wilson Yip has received 12 nominations for the upcoming 28th annual Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Director and Best Actor. The awards ceremony will be held on April 19.
"It's quite a good showing for a kung fu category film," says producer Raymond Wong. "There are many stories about the martial arts master so we don't want the film to end."
The sequel budgeted at 100 million yuan will start shooting in suburban Songjiang District, where much of "Ip Man" was filmed.
Preparations for "Ip Man 2" are going well. Director Yip and Wong's son, Edmond Wong, the scriptwriter, have been to Foshan, Guangdong Province, to gather more information about Yip.
"Ip Man" centers on Yip's efforts to unite Chinese people when Foshan fell to the Japanese invaders during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).
The sequel focuses on Yip's life in Hong Kong after 1949; how he opened his first Wing Chun martial arts school, becoming a respected kung fu master.
"Ip Man" may be a turning point in actor Donnie Yen's career. Yen's vivid portrayal of the character demonstrated that he is more than an action star.
"I really didn't expect to get my first Hong Kong Film Awards nomination," says Yen. "Now I can proudly say the movie is my representative work. The role lets me explore my acting potential."
In "Ip Man 2," Yen will be pitted in battle against veteran actor Sammo Hung, the film's deputy director and action choreographer.
However, "Ip Man" isn't the only film about the martial arts master.
Award-winning Hong Kong film maker Wong Kar-wai ("In the Mood for Love," "2046") is making his version of Yip, "The Great Master," starring Tony Leung, Gong Li and Chang Chen. And a 40-episode TV series about Yip will begin shooting in September.
Both directors Wong and Yip are pleased their film has raised public awareness of the master.
"'Ip Man' has now become a film brand," director Yip says. "It's wonderful for Wong and other film makers with different styles to shoot it. We are eager to see more pictures about the great man."
(Shanghai Daily April 9, 2009)