Ip Man 3 could be Donnie Yen's last gongfu movie
HONG Kong action star Donnie Yen, famous for playing legendary wing chun grandmaster Ip Man in the blockbuster franchise, says that Ip Man 3 may well be his last gongfu movie.
The actor admits that he is uncertain if he can deliver another character as iconic as Ip Man, a role which catapulted him to A-list status seven years ago.
He tells The Straits Times: "I don't know if I can find another character in a gongfu movie which can satisfy the artistic desire as well as the audience's expectations."
According to online reports, the actor had previously announced his intent to step down from the franchise in March at a press conference in Shanghai. He was in town last week for the opening of Swiss watchmaker Hublot's largest pop-up store in the world, at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza.
He says: "Ip Man is so rooted in the fans' hearts and I believe I've played that role quite successfully. I'm not sure if it will be a wise decision for me to search for another (gongfu) role."
But he is not the first martial arts star to say he is giving up the genre. Hollywood action maestros Jet Li and Jackie Chan have made similar sentiments in interviews over the years, only to return to what they do best.
Dressed casually in a T-shirt and jeans, and speaking in English with an American accent, he exudes the same imperturbable calm as the placid and good-tempered Ip Man he plays on the big screen.
Even at the age of 52, Yen is not running out of steam. He is slated to appear in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II, the anticipated sequel to Lee Ang's 2000 Oscar-winning film.
Fans can also look forward to catching glimpses of his fighting skills when he heads off to the galactic landscape in Rogue One, a Star Wars spin-off movie from Lucasfilm.
He is said to be playing a Chinese Jedi, alongside actors such as Felicity Jones.
The actor is understandably excited about his newest role.
He says: "It's a good learning experience for me to be in such a big franchise. The very first sci-fi movie I saw when I was a teenager was Star Wars and I never thought that I would be co-starring in one many years later."
As many of his previous films contain relatively violent fight scenes, he says: "It's about time I can take my kids to watch my movie. Star Wars is a family movie and I think kids will love it."
He is married to former beauty queen Cecilia Wang, and they have an 11-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son. He also has a 20-year-old son from his first marriage.
With Rogue One set for release only at the end of next year, audiences can catch him for now as the wing chun master he is best known for.
Ip Man 3 opens here on Christmas Eve.