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Yip Man : Bruce Lee’s Master Biopic

Bruce Lee is the master to many martial arts fans, but less is known about his master, Ip Man, a pioneer in the kung fu style that influenced Lee. Hong Kong filmmakers hope to change that by bringing Ip’s story to the big screen.

On Tuesday, action stars Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung from the U.S. TV series “Martial Law” prepared to start shooting one of two planned movies about Ip. They joined Ip’s sons in paying tribute to their father at his hometown in the southern city of Foshan, a four hours northwest of Hong Kong.

Performers staged a traditional Chinese lion dance featuring four bright orange lions on outdoor platform near a memorial hall that honors Ip.

Yen posed next to a bust of Ip and performed a series of maneuvers against a wooden mannequin — a common practice in kung fu’s wing chun style, which is known for its practical, no-frills style.

Yen, a veteran action star whose credits include “Blade II,” “Hero” and “Shanghai Knights,” said his role as Ip would be his most challenging ever.

“We all know that teacher Ip Man promoted Chinese kung fu around the world. He’s also the teacher of my idol Bruce Lee. So when I took this role I put a lot of pressure on myself,” he said.

Yen’s reverence for Ip’s legacy is testimony to his storied reputation.

Born in Foshan in 1893, Ip started training around 1903 in wing chun. He arrived in Hong Kong in the 1940s to escape the Communist takeover of the mainland. In Hong Kong, he started out teaching kung fu to restaurant workers but broadened his reach to hundreds of students, including Lee, before passing away in 1972.

Lee, who died in 1973 at age 32 from swelling of the brain, studied under Ip for five years, according to his official biography on the Bruce Lee Foundation Web site.

The movie starring Yen isn’t the only production about Ip Man in the works.

Famed Hong Kong art-house director Wong Kar-wai is also planning a biopic starring Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai, although the timetable for the project is unclear.

Wong’s Jettone Films has not released any information about the movie, but Leung said this week he planned to devote the second half of this year to studying wing chun and hoped to start shooting at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.

Yen’s movie, a $5 million production directed by Wilson Yip, aims to start shooting in March in Shanghai and to be released early next year, Yip said Tuesday.

Video : http://video.sina.com.cn/ent/m/c/2008-02-27/185011034.shtml

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