|Directed by||Wilson Yip|
|Produced by||Raymond Wong|
|Written by||Edmond Wong|
|Starring||Donnie Yen |
|Music by||Kenji Kawai|
|Editing by||Cheung Ka-Fai|
|Distributed by|| Mandarin Films Distribution Co. Ltd. |
|Release date(s)||China: |
12 December 2008
Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand:
18 December 2008
|Gross revenue||HK$20.4 million|
|Official website • IMDb|
Ip Man (traditional Chinese: 葉問; simplified Chinese: 叶问; pinyin: Yè Wèn; Cantonese Yale: Yip Man) is a 2008 Hong Kong martial arts biopic that is based on the life of Ip Man, the celebrated martial arts master of Bruce Lee, and the first to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun openly. The film focuses on events surrounding Yip that took place in Foshan between the 1930s to 1940s during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Directed by Wilson Yip, the film stars Donnie Yen in the lead role, and features fight choreography by Sammo Hung. Ip's two sons, Ip Chun and Ip Ching, along with several Wing Chun practitioners also appear in the film.
Ip Man is the first film to be based on the life of the martial artist. After a first attempt to portray Ip's life on screen resulted in the project being abandoned, producer Raymond Wong developed his own film with full consent from Ip's sons, and had filmmakers head to Foshan, to research Master Ip's life. Ip Chun, Ip Man's eldest son served as a consultant for the film. Donnie Yen, who was set to star in the abandoned film project, received a star fee and was invited to join Wong's production after a successful collaboration with director Wilson Yip on the 2007 film Flash Point.
From March to August 2008, principal photography took place in Shanghai, which was used to architecturally recreate Foshan. During filming, conflict arose between producers and film director Wong Kar-wai over the film's working title, Grandmaster Yip Man (一代宗师葉問). Wong had intended on making his own film based on the life of Ip Man tentatively titled The Great Master (一代宗师). To settle the dispute, filmmakers of Ip Man changed their title, and it was later revealed that Wong's five-year rights to make the Ip Man biopic had expired.
Ip Man was released in Hong Kong on 18 December 2008,  receiving widespread acclaim from both critics and audiences. The film was also released in New Zealand, and was the first country to release the Cantonese version due to time zone differences.
Ip Man is adapted from the life story of Yip Man, the grandmaster of the Wing Chun style of kung fu and sifu of legendary kung fu superstar Bruce Lee. This film will be the first important record of the master's life.
|Donnie Yen||Ip Man|
|Simon Yam||Chow Ching-Chuen|
|Fan Siu-Wong||Jin Shan Zhao|
|Lynn Hung||Zhang Yong Cheng|
|Lam Ka-Tung||Li Zhao|
|Li Ze||Ip Chun|
|Xing Yu||Master Zealot Lin|
|Wong You-Nam||Shao Dan Yuan|
|Li Qi-Long||Green Dragon|
|Chen Zhi-Hui||Master Liao|
|Zhou Zhong||Master He|
|To Yu-Hang||Hu Wei|
|"We wanted to do this movie because Ip Man was a man who inspired the world and society as a whole. He was a man who believed in certain morals and principles, and we want to use this movie as a platform to convey those values to the audience. For me, that was the most important part of making this movie,” |
——Director Wilson Yip on making Ip Man.
Ip Man is the first film to be based on the life on the famous martial artist Ip Man. It also marks the fourth film collaboration between director Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen after 2007's Flash Point. The two also reunite with Simon Yam after 2005's SPL: Sha Po Lang. The screenplay was written by Edmond Wong, the writer of 2006's Dragon Tiger Gate, which was Yip and Yen's second collaboration as director and star respectively. Ip Man was produced and distributed by Mandarin Films, with Shanghai Film Group serving as a co-producer and Raymond Wong Pak-Ming serving as a producer. Ip Man's eldest son, Ip Chun, served as a consultant for the film. The film's budget is an estimated HK$40 million. 
The film was originally conceived in 1998, when Jeffrey Lau teamed up with Corey Yuen to bring the story of Ip Man to the big screen. Donnie Yen signed on to the project in hopes of playing Ip Man, with Stephen Chow as Bruce Lee. Yen had signed the contract and received part of the acting fee. However, the studio producing the original project folded resulting in the project being abandoned.
In December 2007, plans to make a new Ip Man film was announced with the filmmakers researching Ip's life in Foshan. Collin Chou was also said to be a part of the cast. Producer Raymond Wong stated that the film would take on a similar look and feel as SPL.
Production began in March 2008, and wrapped up by the end of August. 90% of the film focuses on events surrounding Ip Man that took place in Foshan between the 1930s to 1940s during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Since the buildings in today's Foshan are architecturally different from the ones in the past, the filmmakers decided to shoot the film in Shanghai instead.   
Principal photography first took place in a storeroom in the industrial district of Shanghai. Having difficulties scouting a cotton factory suitable for shooting, set designers decided to recreate one in the style of the 1930s. They spent weeks transforming an abandoned storeroom into the Zhen Hua Cotton Mill Factory, a 1930s cotton mill factory founded by Ip Man’s friend Chow Ching-Chuen (played in the film by Simon Yam) during the Japanese Occupation of China. It was also the place where Ip first taught Wing Chun. Art director Kenneth Mak, who has frequently collaborated with director Wilson Yip, included Western elements in his design, since Foshan, in early republican years, was a unique place where Chinese and Western cultures would converge. Pillars were made to resemble English lampposts and Western lighting, chairs and tableware were used. The building was made to look obsolete and worn-out as suits the difficult circumstances under Japanese Occupation to convey the culture and feel of the time. Apart from historical references, Mak also created a glass house in the factory.
|"...his biggest achievement lies in playing a true historical figure, unlike fictitious characters he had been doing in the past...he'd have to try his best to understand the thoughts of Yip Man, to be him, and to fit in within the past." |
——Director Wilson Yip on Donnie Yen being cast as Ip Man.
The martial arts scenes were choreographed by Sammo Hung, who had previously collaborated with Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen as an actor for the 2005 film SPL: Sha Po Lang.  Hung was hired as a choreographer mainly because of his experience on the 1978 film Warriors Two and 1982's The Prodigal Son, both of which involved the style of Wing Chun.  When asked how he would work with Yen to direct the action scenes, Hung replied matter-of-factly, "With my mouth." 
Yen has described the role being the most difficult in his career, both emotionally and mentally.  He spent months preparing for the role, by going on a strict diet which consisted of mainly vegetables and eating one meal a day, training in Wing Chun, and learning more about Ip Man through his two sons, all in hopes of portraying an erudite and cultured Ip Man, as well as bringing out the special traits of Wing Chun.  He even went as far as to stay in character after filming, wearing his costume and changing his voice and movement patterns. 
While rehearsing a fight scene, Yen was reportedly injured when an axe wielder accidentally slashed the side of his left eye.  Yen also admitted to having a masseur on set as he could not physically raise his shoulder for the fight scenes.
Japanese actor Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, who holds a black belt in Judo, described it to be "difficult" working under Hung's command. In one scene, he suffered a mild concussion after receiving four blows continuously.  Hung later praised Yen and Ikeuchi's performances in the film, even though the Japanese actor was not trained in Chinese martial arts and was not given a lot of complex moves.
Film title controversy
The film gained controversy over its film title, which was disputed by film director Wong Kar-wai, who announced plans to make his own film on Ip Man with Tony Leung Chiu-Wai while filming 2046. Wong Kar-wai had planned his own Yip Man biopic titled The Great Master (一代宗师), with Leung in the lead role. Wong Kar-Wai's film, however, had been in development hell, having been announced several years earlier.  Producer Raymond Wong wanted to name his film Grandmaster Yip Man, which bore a resemblance to the title Wong Kar-Wai wanted to use for his film.
After Raymond Wong announced his title, Wong Kar-wai's production company, Jet Tone Films, issued a statement saying that they had exclusive rights to the Chinese title of the film and that it is "shameful" that Raymond Wong was using it. They also denied Donnie Yen's claim that ten years ago, Wong Kar-wai and Jeffrey Lau asked him to play Ip Man.
To settle the dispute, Raymond Wong publicly expressed the film title:
|“||Actually, all along, we have called our film Ip Man, but our mainland investors said that Yip Man was a great master of his times, so we changed our title to Grandmaster Yip Man out of respect for him. Yet, this brought about a series of debates over the title. To settle this matter amicably, after discussions with our various investors, movie consultant Yip Chun, and director Wilson Yip, we changed back to our original title.||”|
It was later announced that Wong Kar-wai's five-year rights to make the Ip Man biopic had expired and that Mandarin Films had stepped in with their film.
- The Legend of Yip Man (traditional Chinese: 葉問傳)
- Grandmaster Yip Man (traditional Chinese: 一代宗師葉問)
Ip Man was given a test screening in Beijing on December 4, 2008. The film was highly praised, based on survey sheets returned by the audience. Donnie Yen's portrayal of Ip Man was repeatedly hailed as the year's best performance. As a traditional martial arts film, Ip Man's fight scenes were awarded 8 to 9 out of 10 by 85% of the audience, while full marks were given by the remaining 15%. High praise was also given to the film's co-stars, Fan Siu-Wong, Lam Ka-Tung, and Lynn Hung. 
On the week of 18 December to December 21, Ip Man came in first place at the box office, grossing nearly HK$4.5 million (US$579,715) in Hong Kong, having been released in 37 screens. The film had topped its American competitors Twilight and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa which came in second and third place respectively. Ip Man topped the Singapore and Malaysian box office the same week as well. To date, the film has grossed over HK$ 20.4 million at the Hong Kong box office.
Mandarin Films Ltd. has greenlighted a sequel to Ip Man. Prior to its theatrical release, a sequel for Ip Man was announced by producer Raymond Wong. While promoting the motion picture soundtrack for Ip Man, Wong had revealed that the sequel, tentatively titled Ip Man 2 would continue Ip Man's story, focusing on his migration to Hong Kong and his four disciples which includes Bruce Lee to propogate his discipline of Wing Chun. Bruce Lee would also be a major character in the film. The sequel's budget is an estimated HK$40 million, and Mandarin Films is aiming for a release towards the end of 2010. 
Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip are set to return for the second installment, and are reportedly planning a worldwide talent scout for a suitable candidate to play Lee, who is Ip's most celebrated disciple. They are also debating over whether to look for an actor with solid martial arts foundation or looks. At the Beijing gala premiere of Ip Man, Wilson Yip announced he intends to make an Ip Man franchise.