Kung fu more than fighting: Tony Leung

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Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-Wai has told of his epiphany while preparing for his role in high-kicking new film "The Grandmaster" that kung fu is "more spiritual practice and way of life" than pure fighting.

In the latest interview with Xinhua, Cannes award-winning Leung said he learned a lot about the spirit of kung fu and how to become a master of the martial art during years of preparation for this cinematic tale of Bruce Lee's master, Yip Man.

"The greatest master is the one who understands life and who, after everything, stands here, still wearing a nice smile," said Leung, who plays Yip, master of the martial art of Wing Chun.

The movie, which debuted on the Chinese screen in early January, was directed by Hong Kong art-house director Wong Kar Wai, also Leung's long-time collaborator.

"As a child, I used to think that only the police and evildoers learned martial arts. But when we really get to know it, it is an attitude and spirit that can guide us in dealing with people and affairs," Leung said.

To ensure he got the best performance possible from his star, Wong Kar Wai invited Yip Man's disciple Duncan Leung Siu Hung to not only train Tony Leung in Wing Chun but also tell him Yip Man's stories.

It requires more than reading the script to feel a master's changing notions about martial arts, according to Leung -- "It is important to practice kung fu myself to really become the character I am playing."

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