Hong Kong Filmart: Mike Tyson Signs Up for 'Ip Man 3'

Mike Tyson H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Producer Raymond Wong promises "an explosive fight" when the former heavyweight boxing champ goes head to head with Donnie Yen in the latest installment of the popular kung fu franchise.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson will join the cast of Ip Man 3, Pegasus Motion Pictures has announced, setting up the prospect of some intense fighting scenes between Tyson and martial arts legend Donnie Yen, who reprises the eponymous role from the previous two Ip Man installments.

Principal photography on the $36 million Ip Man 3 commences today (March 25) in Shanghai, China, reuniting the team that made the first two Ip Man films: producer Raymond Wong, director Wilson Yip and writer Edmond Wong.

"Two years ago Mike Tyson opened up a Weibo [the Chinese microblogging site] account and the first question he asked was, 'Who is the best fighter in China?'" Pegasus chairman and Ip Man 3 producer Raymond Wong told THR. "Someone answered him 'Donnie Yen,' and that gave me an idea. For the third installment in the Ip Man series, we want to have an explosive fight, and Mike Tyson versus Donnie Yen fits the bill."

Tyson said in a statement: "Who is the best boxer and kung fu master in China? Wait for me, I am coming. Thank you for introducing me to Chinese kung fu."

Ip Man (1893-1972) was a Chinese martial artist who popularized the practice of Wing Chun, a discipline that specializes in close-range combat. One of his most famous pupils was Bruce Lee, who later developed his own discipline, Jeet Kune Do. Ip was born in Foshan, Guangdong, China. He moved to Hong Kong and opened his schools of Wing Chun in 1949.

Tyson is set to have a significant role in the threequel, playing a property developer who is also a street fighter. Apart from the introduction of Tyson in the film, kung fu icon Bruce Lee will also appear as a young pupil of Ip Man. The film's producers were unable to find an actor to portray Lee's intensity onscreen so have decided to use computer graphics to re-create the most authentic Lee in the film.

The two previous Ip Man films produced by Raymond Wong grossed $37 million worldwide. The threequel is tentatively scheduled for release in 3D in the first quarter of 2016.

Donnie Yen's portrayal of Ip Man is perhaps the most widely known, but there was also Wong Kar Wai's well-received The Grandmaster, starring Tony Leung as Ip, and Herman Yau's Ip Man: The Final Fight, starring Anthony Wong. Both films were released in 2013.

Said producer Wong: "The audience suffered Ip Man fatigue for a while, but the waves of Ip Man films has calmed down now, so now is the time to present our third installment."