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MMA Fighter Cung Le Joins Wong Kar-Wai's Yip Man Biopic, 'The Grand Master'

by Simon Dang
October 31, 2010 4:04 AM
1 Comment
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Project Won't Finish Shooting At Least Until Early 2011, 'Matrix' Fight Choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping Now Involved



Vietnamese-American Mixed Martial Arts fighter Cung Le has evidently joined the cast of Wong Kar Wai's still in production biopic on Bruce Lee mentor Yip Man, "The Grand Master."

The fighter has been slowly insinuating himself into the acting world with supporting roles in "Pandorum," "Fighting" and "Tekken," a role lined up in RZA's "The Man With The Iron Fist" and a lead slot in an upcoming Joel Silver production "Dragon Eyes," described as an MMA-tinged "Yojimbo" style pic -- as horrible as that sounds. Le, though, has now revealed that he's set to join Wong's latest teaming with regular collaborator Tony Leung Chiu-wai in the Yip Man biopic.

"I just got an offer to go to China before this shoot," Le told Strikeforce earlier this month. "And they’re willing to work around my schedule, to work with the famous director Wong Kar Wai. He’s a pioneer, and a very interesting artist. Right now, we’re negotiating, but I’m focused on 'Dragon Eyes.'"

A mere two weeks later, Le spoke to TheGarv revealing that negotiations had obviously gone smoothly as he was "in China right now filming a movie with Director Wong Kar Wai and Action Director [Yuen] Woo-ping for a few weeks and will be back in the States on Nov. 7th to start 'Dragon Eyes,' a Joel Silver and After Dark production for seven weeks in New Orleans. I go back to China after Christmas to finish 'Grandmaster' with Wong Kar Wai and Master Woo-ping for a week or two Then I start 'A Man With The Iron Fist' with RZA. Be back in Feb.!"

Wait, shooting on "The Grand Master" will still be happening a week or two "after Christmas"!? Wow.

Originally set to begin shooting in September last year, the film immediately faced problems when star Leung broke his arm during training which delayed the production start to December. Even then, we expected Wong's slow, methodical technique to merely take the best part of 2010 to wrap for a 2011 release -- early suggestions were for a Chinese New Year release -- but even that was apparently too optimistic. Of course, there's a chance the December plans are just additional reshoots with post-production work already underway but the notion of adding cast members and developing story on-the-go sounds very much like Wong's methodology.

Another possible delay catalyst? Star Song Hyo-kye is shooting another film this month with Lee Jeong-hyang back home in Korea.

The Chinese tabloids recently spotted Wong in a meeting showcasing promo shots already taken from the project. While the photos aren't clear enough for us to peruse, it's being reported that actress Song Hyo-kye will play Leung's wife. The role was first linked to retired actress Brigette Lin who was then thought to be replaced by Zhang Ziyi ("Memoirs of A Geisha," "House of Flying Daggers," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). Ziyi, though, was apparently also spotted in promo shots thrown around at that meeting, seen wearing male clothing possibly hinting at a return to action for the actress.

News of Yuen Woo-Ping's involvement is also interesting to note with the director of films like "Drunken Master," "Iron Monkey" and "Wing Chun" and choreographer for the likes of "The Matrix," "Kill Bill," "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Fearless" likely to add stylistic fight scenes that will no doubt contrast with the moody, atmospheric work of Wong. The film, of course, also stars Zhao Benshan, Julian Cheun Chi-lam and Chang Chen as well as iconic martial arts star Bruce Leung who'll play one the of Wing Chun masters.

The project's lengthy production, however, continues to frustrate ardent, impatient fans and these new updates likely put a potential Cannes premiere next year in doubt. [via Wong Kar-Wai News]

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1 Comment

  • Sebastián | November 1, 2010 1:38 AMReply

    Hi Simon, check out two AFM’s promo images for “THE GRAND MASTER” with first official look at Zhang Ziyi in the film.

    http://www.chongweikk.com/2010/11/two-official-promo-images-for-wong-kar.html

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