Filming “The Grand Master” in Liaoyang War Museum Old Building and it’s hard to see any of the stars as the crew has not allowed others to stay in the hotels. The arrival of Wong Kar-wai, Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, and martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping caused quite a stir with many people arriving to see the stars. The crew have worked hard to secure areas of the museum, with “under constructuction” and “closed” signs hung outside the doors. “The Grand Master” crew have signed confidentiality agreements to prevent leaks, with the museum also signing an agreement.They filmed indoors until the early hours, with Wong Kar-wai wearing sunglasses at the midnight shooting. Security is extremely tight and impossible to see the cast. Zhang Ziyi was spotted and described as being very thin and pale and Tony Leung also lost weight.
In January 2009, it was reported that Wong Kar-wai had invited Brigitte Lin to appear in “The Grand Master.” It was originally thought that she would be playing the role of Yip Man’s wife but this was later denied by the film’s producer Ng See-Yuen.
He admitted that they had dined with the actress and that she had agreed to star in the film. However, they did not know what role she would play. He hoped that the reports would not change her mind. Did Brigitte Lin have any conditions for her comeback? Ng See-Yuen expressed that he did not know, but that the actress and Wong Kar Wai are great friends.
According to Taiwan’s United Daily News, Brigitte Lin’s character was shrouded in secrecy but that there are scenes where she will have to be disguised as a man, harking back to her previous androgynous roles.
In September 2009, it was reported that Brigitte Lin turned down a role in the film because it was not tailor-made for her.
In February 2009, Yip Chun (son of Yip Man and an adviser on “The Grand Master”) stated during an interview that Wong Kar-wai was thinking about inviting Gong Li to join the project. Speculation in the media about what role she might play followed, with many fans apparently believing the subsequent reports that she was co-starring in the film. It was at first reported that she would be playing Yip Man’s wife but was later stated that the role would be “a female martial arts master from Foshan.” However, the casting idea was unconfirmed by others associated with the project.
In January 2009, it was reported that singer/actor Jay Chou would be playing the part of Bruce Lee in “The Grand Master.”
At the 2008 Taiwanese Golden Horse Awards ceremony, the film’s producer Ng See-Yuen revealed that Wong had extended an invite to Chou to take part in the film.
In February 2009, Chou confirmed that his busy schedule meant he couldn’t take part in the film.
Tony Leung is busy practising Wing Chun everyday. Tony’s kung fu master and his assistants visit Tony every day and practised with Tony at his home. According to Yip Man’s son, Wong Kar-wai invited Master Leung, who was introduced to Ip Man to learn Wing Chun by Bruce Lee, to teach Tony Wing Chun. And Master Leung’s assistants would practise Wing Chun with Tony. Tony started his class since October 2008, practising for 4 hours a day, and he has improved a lot since then. The reporter can even hear the sound of practising across the wall. Yip Man’s son was surprised by Tony’s improvement. He said he was worried that Tony would not be practising hard, but to his surprise, Tony is very serious, and improved very fast.
Leung also specially employed a wushu master to create a wooden dummy and practices Wing Chun five days a week. “My current task is to be practicing Wing Chun diligently,” he said. With respect to the comparison between Donnie Yen and himself, Leung was humble and said that his skills cannot be compared to Yen. “I believe that Wilson Yip and Wong Kar-wai’s versions will be very different as they have different strengths and skills in moviemaking,” Leung said. He also said: “We’re at a very exciting stage now, in the middle of pre-production work. I’m working hard everyday, finding the character, doing physical kungfu training, and reading a lot about Ip Man himself.”
Source: Next Magazine issue 992
The 6th Hong Kong Entertainment Expo will take place on March 22 to April 18th. Tony Leung attended the press conference as the Entertainment Ambassador. When asked how his filming was going for “The Grand Master”? Tony replied saying he had filmed scenes in Kaiping earlier. The team is now in Shenyang filming. Originally he was not part of the filming in Shenyang, only Zhang Ziyi and Zhao Benshan were filming there. However, as director Wong Kar Wai felt the snow scenery was too beautiful, he decided to add Tony in as well. He will rejoin the crew after Chinese New Year’s. Because of that, he will not go skiing during New Years, as he doesn’t want to risk getting injured.
Zhang Ziyi was rumoured to have gotten ill filming in Northern China and apparently need to go to the hospital for treatment. Tony said, “It’s pretty common receiving IV fluids. The feeling is like eating chicken. When Ang Lee was filming “Red Cliff”, he had to go to the hospital after suffering from exhaustion. I hope everything will go smoothly for me.” As for the rumours that Zhang Ziyi’s screen time will be reduced? Tony says he hasn’t heard anything about it. However, it seems highly unlikely as Wong Kar Wai already has the script in place. He does not foresee any changes. Has Zhang Ziyi’s mood been affected by her negative press lately? He says he doesn’t know, as they haven’t filmed any scenes together yet. He only knows that Song Hye-kyo will be appearing in the movie. As for whether Gong Li will appear or who will play his wife? He expresses he doesn’t know either. However, Tony expresses he’s looking forward to working with Song Hye Kyo. He met her when he was in Korea promoting 2046 and felt that she was very special.
When asked if he was a good fighter? Tony joked and said, “You wouldn’t expect any less from the Grand Master right?” He expressed that while he hasn’t been seriously injured in training, he does have lots of body contact with his instructors so he often gets bruised up. He jokes and says, “I’m looking forward to counting all my injuries when the movie is complete.” Donnie Yen has said, ‘if you don’t fight, you won’t be injured’. Tony says, “This is an action movie. It’s the same as soccer, there will be physical contact. Injuries are to be expected.” He praises Yuen Woo-ping, saying his style is very good.
He admitted that when filming of “The Grand Master” started, the action was so fast-paced that he “almost couldn’t hang in there.” “This is a genuine kung fu movie,” Leung said, adding “there really will be many action scenes.”
Location filming for “The Grand Master” began in January 2010 in Shenyang, China in below freezing temperatures.Wong Kar-wai is now shooting some parts of the film in Northern China with Zhang Ziyi and the Zhao Benshan. It will take 2 weeks for shooting this part, so they should be finished around 23-24 January. Wong Kar-wai then plans to return to Southern China to continue shooting with the other actors, like Tony Leung, Chang Chen and Song Hye-kyo.
According to this report, the script has changed once again. Zhang Ziyi is now playing a student of Zhao Benshan, with Zhao Benshan’s disciplines also participating in this film. The movie will become less solemn and more like a comedy. Zhao Benshan will play another martial arts master, most likely a Chinese boxer. The shooting site will move from the Guangdong province (southern part of China, near to Hong Kong) to another city in the north-eastern China. Wong Kar-wai wants to add winter and snowing scenes to the movie.
Wong Kar-Wai, Zhao Benshan, Zhang Ziyi, and Yuen Woo-Ping met in North-east Shenyang (Zhao’s base) to ring in the new year and prepare for the upcoming filming of “The Grand Master”.
Wong Kar-wai went to Shenyang to pick some students of Zhao Benshen to star in “The Grand Master”. Zhao Benshan will star in the film and is rumoured to play a Chinese boxer from North China.
Frankie Chan (Ashes Of Time) is rumoured to be the composer.
Already eight years in the making, Wong Kar Wai’s ‘The Grand Master’ will officially start filming in November 2009. As Tony Leung had broke his arm training for the movie, filming was delayed for two months while he recovered. Earlier on, Tony began training anew and has fully immersed himself into martial arts again. Even the Wing Chun masters who have been training Tony have praised his understanding and skill in Wing Chun. Tony is preparing to film ‘The Grand Master’ in his best form.
Does Light Exercises While Recovering
Tony’s been training at the martial arts school under the guidance of Master Yip Siu Hung and his disciples. While he had to stop training during his recovery period, Tony was still able to do light exercises. He says that kung fu training is something you can never get enough of anyway. Tony expressed that the past two months have been like an extended holiday. His doctor had strongly advised him to wait at least three months before doing any vigorous activity. After resting for a few weeks, he began exercising again to keep his body in shape. Everyday he’ll run for one or two hours. He also arranged for one-handed fitness sessions at the gym to keep his arms and legs in shape. In order to keep his arm immobile while running, he had to bandage it tightly to prevent any movement. Whenever he saw people on the streets, they would kindly ask him how his recovery was going and reminded him to be more careful.
Best Actor to Play Yip Man
Master Leung has been very satisfied with Tony’s performance. He especially admired Tony’s ‘never give up’ attitude. He has high hopes for Tony in the role of Yip Man. He believes Tony’s spirit, appearance and comprehension is very similar to Master Yip Man and is the ideal candidate to play him.
Tony Leung, who is back to Wing Chun training, still feels some pain when exerting his arm as it takes 3 months before his fractured arm would fully recover (he’s rested for two months). Producer Ng See Yuen says “The Grand Master” by Wong Kar Wai, which is about Yip Man’s life after his migration to Hong Kong and his relations with other sects, has to begin filming in November – come what may. But who knows it’d be pushed back yet again. Ng See Yuen is forbidding Wong Kar-wai, who’s facing tremendous pressure, from altering the script on the set, “The script must be finalised first, can’t let him keep changing the script as he shoots the film.”
Directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Tony Leung, “The Grand Master” has met with countless obstacles from the start. Seven years ago, Tony Leung started learning Wing Chun from Master Yip Man’s son, Yip Chun, to prepare for the movie. However, Wong Kar-wai kept delaying the film.
Last year Raymond Wong took over with his version of Ip Man, starring Donnie Yen. Not only did producer Wong’s version do well at the box office, it also garnered many awards.
Undeterred by it, Wong Kar-wai stated that he will shoot his version in August/September. To prepare for the role, Tony has been training relentlessly. During a practice fighting session, he was kicked in the left arm, which broke on impact.
Bulking up with martial arts and training at the gym
To prepare for the movie, Tony has begun training since October 2008. Besides practicing Wing Chun, he has also been working out at the gym to build up his body. As filming was scheduled to start in August/September, he has steadily increased his training sessions. Starting early morning he will train with different Wing Chun masters to practice his fighting. With such an intense schedule, something finally went wrong.
Practiced fighting with five Wing Chun masters
Tony began training as usual with five Wing Chun masters. Tony appeared very strong in his attack, going towards one master at full force. The master was surprised by him and naturally reacted in self defense, using his own force to counter attack and kicked Tony’s left arm. Tony’s legs then buckled and he painfully held onto his left arm with his right arm. Since his arm had no strength, he went to the hospital for a check up. After x-rays were taken, it showed that one of the bones in his left arm was broken. The doctor suggested that Tony’s arm be put in a cast, but Tony refused saying that muscle atrophy will set in and all the work he spent building the muscles in his arm will be wasted.
Hasn’t notified wife Carina
As broken bones take about 5 to 6 weeks to heal, the doctor has told him not to move his arm at all costs. Not only can he not practice Wing Chun, he’s not even allowed to go jogging. But Tony is very anxious to get back to training as he’s afraid that if he doesn’t practice, his martial arts skills will decline. The only thing he can practice now is his leg work. Tony said that he was prepared for injuries when he signed on for a martial arts film. He knows that the actual filming process will be even tougher. Getting injured now at least gives him preparation for what’s to come.
Has he notified wife Carina, who’s currently filming in Hengdian? He replies, “It was too sudden. I went to the hospital right away and didn’t have a chance to notify her.”
Chang Chen said in an interview that he will not be playing Bruce Lee in “The Grand Master”. In fact he personally recommended to WKW that Jay Chou should be cast in the role.
“I do not feel like Bruce Lee, I think that Jay is more suitable, I once recommended him to Wong Kar-wai.”
About rumors that Zhang Ziyi will play Ip Man’s wife: “I do not know! But if it’s true, I’m looking forward to cooperating with her.”
He also said that he’s looking forward to working with Tony Leung again.
Opening ceremony photos of “The Grand Master”.
Attended by Wong Kar-wai, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen and martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (wearing the baseball cap).
Wong Kar-wai secretly had the opening ceremony of the “The Grand Master” in Guangdong.
On 21 November 2009, Wong Kar-wai took Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen to a hotel in Kai Ping town to have a small blessing ceremony (with roasted little piglets) for the start of shooting the film.
The reporter heard from the producer that the shooting will be taking place at the studio (Film Park) near the town from 12 December 2009 to 18 April 2010. The Film Park will be closed for the public during that time, and reopen on 19 April 2010.
The producer also said that the shooting should start at the end of November however we will have to wait to hear from WKW himself about the details of the actors and their roles.