Kevin Cheng to Star in “Ip Man” TV Drama

Above: Kevin Cheng displays his martial arts skills in TVB drama, “A Fistful of Stances.”

Kevin Cheng (郑嘉颖) will star in mainland Chinese TV drama, Ip Man <叶问>, as the famous Wing Chun martial artist! Director  Fan Xiaotian’s (范小天) announcement that Kevin Cheng was chosen as the male lead came as a surprise, especially since it was expressed earlier that Vincent Zhao (赵文卓) has been invited to star. Perhaps landing his biggest role to-date, Kevin’s depiction will likely spur comparisons to Donnie Yen’s (甄子丹) Ip Man movie franchise and Tony Leung’s (梁朝伟) upcoming film, The Grandmasters <一代宗师>.

Mainland actress, Cecilia Han (韩雪) will portray Ip Man’s wife, Cheung Wing Sing. Kevin and Cecilia will portray a deep love relationship, which will withstand the turbulent era in which they lived in.

Director Fan Xiaotian announced the intention to produce an Ip Man television drama in April. The search for the male actor to play Ip Man was not an easy task. The production staff originally intended to cast a male actor with martial arts background. Vincent Zhao was naturally one of Director Fan’s first choice. Although Vincent read and praised the script in May, he apparently turned down the role.

“Ip Man” Catered Towards Young Audiences?

In June, the Weibo online community was asked to supply casting choices for the Ip Man television drama.  Fans had suggested that Han Geng (韩庚), Wu Chun (吴尊), Wallace Chung (钟汉良) and Wallace Huo (霍建华) be considered for roles in the drama.

Although Kevin Cheng’s name was initially not associated with the Ip Man drama, apparently the production staff may have cast him due to his immense popularity among young audiences after his performance in Bu Bu Jing Xin <步步惊心>.

Skilled Martial Artists Cast in “Ip Man”

The Ip Man TV drama will tout “real kung fu” in its action sequences, featuring exciting hand-to-hand combat instead of following the current trend of wire scenes in action productions. Veteran actors with decades of martial arts experience have signed on board.

Yuen Wah (元华) will portray Ip Man’s martial arts master, Chan Wah Shun. Leung Siu Lung (梁小龙) will portray skilled Wing Chun martial artist, Leung Jan. Yu Rongguan (于荣光) will portray Yu Feng Gau, who enlightens Ip Man’s martial arts skills. Liao Xiaofeng (刘小峰) will portray the arch villian, Lam Ching San.

It was reported earlier that Ip Man’s sons, Ip Chun (叶准) and Ip Ching (叶正) will serve as the martial arts consultants for the Ip Man TV drama.

A Higher Aspiration

Executive Producer and Scriptwriter, Zhang Tan (张炭)–of New Dragon Inn <新龙门客栈> and Once Upon a Time in China <黄飞鸿> fame–indicated that the TV drama will not only speak about the life of Ip Man, but will also feature the story about Chinese martial arts and the makings of a true hero. Unlike the films, the TV version will present more well-developed characterization for Ip Man as a person.

Director Fan explained, “We intend to create a new era of martial arts. Through the perspective of one person facing a turbulent era, he continuously seeks answers to questions in life. Finally, he  (Ip Man) was able to become a great martial arts master.”

The martial arts scenes will be first filmed in Ip Man. Key cast members will start filming for the production after August 10th. Ip Man is mainland China’s foremost martial arts drama to be produced this year.


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Jayne: I do not think that Kevin Cheng is a suitable actor to portray Ip Man. With the TV drama marketed as featuring real kung fu, surely an actor with a more physical background would make the martial arts scenes more convincing. Did the crew expect its elder supporting veteran actors such as Leung Siu Lung to helm the demanding physical scenes instead!

In’s original article, Kevin’s upcoming role is already compared to Donnie Yen and Tony Leung. Very high standards to meet!

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  1. No doubt Kevin Cheng will be the most handsome Ip Man to-date! He will look great in his cheongsam, but I want to see Ip Man portrayed by someone with real physical training.

    I would have preferred Vincent Zhao, Kenny Ho, or Nicky Wu in the role.

    Given Vincent Zhao’s earlier spat with Donnie Yen, I can understand why Vincent would not want to portray the TV version of Donnie’s iconic character.

    1. he is handsome but with no martial background i don’t really have faith for the series.
      I would preferred someone like dennis To (yu hang to). His look resemblance donnie but away more good looking and manly plus he was a martial art artist.

    2. Kevin and no martial arts background is wrong for this. Vincent Zhao or Nicky Wu is better. I assume this series will have a lot of romance instead of fighting.

      1. Wait but Nicky Wu is expensive. Kevin is the highest earner from HK but in mainland his salary is said to be the same as 2nd or 3rd line artiste

      2. Really? So do the mainland actresses (1st or 2nd line) make more than Kevin too?

      3. @josie: Yes, for sure. Don’t talk of Fan Bing Bing or Zhang Ziyi, just Yang Mi can beat KC’s salary. She is paid 300k per eps last time.

    3. Vincent is always the obvious choice, but given his dispute with Donnie, also an unlikely choice. Nicky could definitely have been a good choice since he actually has a background in martial arts. Kevin was very unconvincing in A Fistful of Stances and there was also a lot of criticism for his boxing style in GCO.

    4. “No doubt Kevin Cheng will be the most handsome Ip Man to-date! He will look great in his cheongsam”

      He is handsome but he is also small sized and in Fistful of Stances he didn’t look good in those Cheongsam. He didn’t even look like a master. It was Kenneth Ma who blew me away with his look in that white cheongsam.

      1. Funn:

        After seeing Kenneth’s upper body in R3K, I think he looks better w/ his clothes on!

      2. I agree but body he can tone it. Height… no way. You know why I like Kenneth so much? Fistful of Stances when he appeared in that white cheongsam. He looks gloriously handsome even if his acting sucks. But Kevin, he is a good looking guy but he looks tiny next to Kenneth.

      3. Yes, you’re absolutely right Funn, Kevin looked tiny when he stood next to Kenneth. The cheongsam looked so much better on Kenneth because of his height advantage and gave him a more convincing martial artist look over Kevin.

      4. Donnie yen is tiny too, but he portray a convincing Ip Man. Tony Leung isn’t exactly tall.

      5. Donnie can be convincing because he has the foundation

    5. yeah, agree why chose Kevin for this great film, he has no kung fu back ground and he doesn’t have that drive, he is not the right person to choose.

  2. So the guy who suffered much scorn for his poor work ethic and terrible style in “Gloves Come Off” is now going to be the Kung Fu master in Ip Man?

    lol… why do I not see this working out well… -.-

  3. What on earth do people see in this Kevin Cheng guy? There are a lot of handsome actors, but only few who can act and has real martial arts skills. Stop being so lazy with casting, go for the real deal. Hell, even Raymond Wong would be a better fit.

    1. He has looks although it’s weird that he hasn’t hook up with anyone with this looks. After breaking up with Niki because of Charmaine, we only heard rumours of many mainland actresses but never a long term like Niki.

      1. Um, I’m pretty sure Kevin has attracted lots of girls w/ his looks. It’s just that he’s more careful at playing the field.

  4. Casting Kevin to be IP Man is like casting Leon Lai to be Bruce Lee.

    1. Kevin is the vase version of Ip Man. Only there for his looks.

    2. lol Kevin is gonna make a joke out of himself.

      1. Like how he made a joke out of himself in BF3 and GCO

  5. I like Kevin, but this is a weird casting choice.

    I’m also surprised because this means he hasn’t filmed any TVB series this year.

    1. I know, we won’t get to see him in tvb series for a while. I really have to savor GJ2.

      And what happened to making a new album w/ EEG? Is he gonna sacrifice his singing dream for the RMB?

      1. I’m sure he’ll find a way to squeeze in time to record songs. He’s just trying to rake in the money as fast as he can from all directions.

  6. HELLO ?! his “boxing” acting in Boxing King was horrible, what makes him capable of ip man, unless its being turned into a comedy.

    1. Not comedy but romance or spiritual talking drama. Maybe romance with a love triangle

  7. Kevin has come a long way and accrued considerable acting experience by now. He has proved himself well enough to garner all those awards and has been well received by the public in general. In this very important choice of Ip Man, as it was announnced, “great consideration” had been given to it and finally it was decided to give the role to Kevin. Surely those experinced in martial arts, the producer and director, besides the sons of Ip Man himself, would have given enough thought for the selection. So, please give him the chnace to prove himself again and give him your support.

    1. There is also connection. I heard Kevin got his BBJX role was also because of past connection with the director.

      1. Connection or not, who knows?? Also, even if he got that role in BBJX through connections, it will also depend his efforts and performances since connections and looks can only get you so far.

      2. stating the obvious much, tony? of course looks is the most important asset

      3. What I heard was the Kevin and the director worked together many years ago in Jue da Shuang Jiao. I did not hear anything about Kevin getting the role in BBJX just because of his connections with the director.He just worked with him before, but that was it…

  8. oh my…. seriously, i can’t picture Kevin in that role. he doesn’t look the part. 😛 i hope they reconsider otherwise it really won’t do justice to the legendary guy. Vincent Zhao will be convincing. not that i know Ip Man or knows how he should look like but at least Vincent has that martial art exponent looks/physique. 😛

    1. yes my reaction exactly!! OMG u got to be kidding me…really he didnt even potray his boxer role that well Yip Man c’mon..

  9. i like Kevin but i don’t think he fit the role as Ip Man. People gonna criticize his martial art skill like the series ‘Glove come off’

  10. What a joke. He is not cut out to be Ip Man. This is going to be an idol drama instead.
    Actually looking forward to see Vincent Zhao as Ip Man, he done great in Tai Chi few years ago

  11. To be honest, there’s simply a distinct lack of actors with solid martial arts these days. Like you said, all the work is left to the veterans. Ah, the good old days with genuine hand-to-hand combat.

    I didn’t know Leung Siu Lung was still active these days though; the last I saw of him was in the Stephen Chow film…

    1. Skinnymocha,
      “I didn’t know Leung Siu Lung was still active these days though; the last I saw of him was in the Stephen Chow film…”

      Leung Siu Lung will appear in Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmasters,” which will be released in 2012.

      The martial artists, Leung Siu Lung and Yuen Wah, are a bit past their prime years to really take on any intensive fights in “Ip Man” TV drama.

      If the director is serious about the “real kung fu” pitch, they should find some aspiring talent in the youths training under Shaolin martial arts in China. Even if they were to play extras, they can add bold dimension to real fights.

      I enjoy hand-to-hand combat scenes too.

      1. Thanks Jayne~

        I’m looking forward to seeing the film, although the mix of Wong Kar Wai + Tony + martial arts still seems a little iffy to me. Action films rely far too much on CG and camera angles these days, only focusing on the aesthetics of it all. No real grit, fluidity or beautiful choroegraphy. “Let’s just put them in fancy clothing and make them prance around in slowmo” instead.

        “If the director is serious about the “real kung fu” pitch, they should find some aspiring talent in the youths training under Shaolin martial arts in China. Even if they were to play extras, they can add bold dimension to real fights.”

        Very true. Heck, China certainly aren’t lacking in gymnasts either. It only makes me appreciate the veterans even more, because not only do they take on the action, a portion of them can truly act – and with versatility too. How many times have we seen Yuen Wah in a non-action drama/role?

    2. I also thought that Leung Siu Lung already retired too. Great to see that he is still active in the circle.

  12. He was so bad in a fistful of stance. MM outshone him by a MILE.
    I love Kevin but seriously….

    1. LOL forgot AFOS too. He’s a block of wood there and zero charisma. KM outshine him.

  13. I like Kevin as well but sure about him in this role.Glad to see Han Xue and Yu RongGuang in here as well since I have not seen them in a long time.

  14. It is a suprsing decision and a great challenge for KC. The decision by the producer was taken after great deliberations that took months. This is high budget production and not just a typical drama.

    KC fighting scenes are not bad in GCO actually, and that was why he got the job. The producers must have taken hour to view the scenes in GCO and Iron Fist before deciding on him.

    I think it will be different from Donnie Yen’s version, with less emphasis on fightings but more on other aspects of Ip Man’s live during the turbulance period.
    Whether it will be succesful or not, only time will tell. I remember when KC was selected for the 8 Prince role in BBJX, there were much criticsms too in the Spcnet forum.

  15. I agree absolutely with you, Kenny, and to add to what you have said, I think it very unfair to judge and criticize Kevin for having been selected for the role. Do give him a chance to prove himself and I am quite sure he won’t be a disappointment to us all, much less those who have employed him to do the job.

    1. His acting is just so so. The same face in every series. Everyone find him handsome but if compare him and Kenneth Ma I like Kenneth more because KM has the charisma make draw to him. As for Kevin, none of his movie is extraordinary. He is a little bit overrated in my opinion. I’m not saying he doesn’t working hard to get where he is today.

      1. KD: Everyone find him handsome

        I don’t find him really that handsome, but he can’t be categorized as ugly either. I think he is average maybe. To me, his face and body don’t look masculine enough, but that’s just my own opinion. Maybe because I was born and raised in a western country that’s why I don’t find him appealing, attractive and sexy?

  16. Very wrong casting choice. Find someone who has martial art background.

    1. But the producer want good-looking too. Maybe they felt Vincent not attractive enough.

      1. Vincent is attractive and knows martial arts. I think Vincent doesn’t want to take Donnie’s role because of their dispute

  17. I’ll like to see Rose Chan in this “Ip Man” TV version. She carved a niche market herself by not going the leng mo route (although her looks and figure can certainly challenge them).

    There’s a special quality about Rose Chan, in which last year’s scandal with Benny Chan will probably not make a dent in her career down the road.

    1. Fake victim Rose Chan? I dont feel any charisma or anything special from her. Just another attention sicker

      1. Vivien:

        So what should she have done? Run away and hide f/ the media? U make it like she shouldn’t speak up even though those creeps groped her. How would u feel if u were a victim of sexual harassment and people shamed u for it?

      2. @vivien: Joe Ma and Benny Chan were feasting on her and groping her all over. Her sifu might exaggerate on her pure innocence, but she’s still a victim

      3. At least she knows real kungfu and how to fight on screen.

      4. hehe what , china is popular for kung fu, they can’t find anyone else that knows real kung fu. Humm If I was Rose Chan I would of kick them in the face, and said back off get your own sandwich!

  18. What is Kenny Ho Ka King doing these days? Certainly, he would be a welcome sight in a “real kung fu” show like “Ip Man” TV drama. Although looks wise, Kenny may look a little wild to play the stern martial artists.

    1. From what I have heard, Kenny Ho has been currently repraising his role as Zhan Zhao in some other stories or remakes of Bao Qing Tian recently.He is also in some movies I think. I wish that they also casted him in this series as well.It would be great to see him..

    2. Kenny too old I suppose? But hey he was the definitive … oh dear.. oh yes… Chung Wah Ying Hung!

      and he was the only reason to watch the god awful Storm Warriors

  19. Seems like a risky move. I mean,he’s popular, but he doesn’t even have a martial arts background…

    Meh, no expectations for this drama + probably may not even tune in lol

    Btw, he’s the most handsome Ip Man? I think Tony Leung is pretty handsome!

  20. I was really hoping for either Kenny Ho, Vincent or someone fresh from Shaolin. Sigh! I can’t see Kevin as Ip man….He probably got chosen bc of his current popularity in both China and Hk! This is such a huge let down to pick someone w/o a martial art background to play ipman. He should atleast learn some wing chun!

  21. all i have to say is…WTF??? uh this is such a wrong choice. Kevin is more suited for gentlemen roles aka the 8th prince, which is why he was so popular but DEF NOT a martial arts person…

    1. KC can only be idol ip man. Niki will laugh at this

      1. Niki don’t care about him anymore since Charmaine steal him from her

    2. i actually hated him in BBJX. didn’t find him attractive as everyone said. Nicky Wu totally swooned me though! I thought he was way better in acting than Kevin

    3. i preferred Nicky’s character in BBJX. i honestly didn’t think much of Kevin’s role in BBJX. 😛

  22. Nooo. I like Kevin, but he is no Ip Man! Woa too bad I was really hopping Vincent would of took the roll, it would of been perfect for him! As for suggesting Nicky and Kenny, I just don’t think they look the part.

  23. Worst casting decision, ever. But there is similarity between him and Donnie Yen in so far as botoxed looks is concerned. But at least Donnie Knows real kungfu. Sorry but I predict a dud.

  24. Maybe they remembered him from A Fistful of Stances

    I’d sooner cast Kenneth Ma in this role than Kevin.

    1. But Kenneth is not popular in mainland yet. And his puppy dog eyes hardly befit a grand-master.

      1. And you think Kevin has the grand-master look? I don’t think so – He was also a wrong cast when he was picked in the Gloves Come Off series.

    2. Both don’t suit. None of them have the look of a grand master.

  25. Why not hire Kenneth Ma,Raymond Wong ,Him Law or William Chak to start as Yip Man ,they have better body muscle and they can use stunt man even these 4 guy kung fu is not good and no kung fu background ,agree?
    is this ip man made by TVB a idol drama ?

    1. Their names can’t gain audiences for the series, honesty that. They can be quite famous in HK, but to China market, they are nobody.

      1. It seems more and more than in asia the “package” is more important than the “contents.” -.-“

  26. His acting isn’t really that bad and I actually enjoyed his role in Ghetto Justice and Gloves Come Off. He just has to build up his body, he’s got the looks. 😉

  27. This is a massive offer to Kevin! He will look good in the role but he will have to prove himself with the kung fu skills.

  28. He made me laugh with his skills in AFOS, GCO and BF3. He look weak.

  29. What’s most important is Kevin handsome. Acting and kungfu can put aside first

    1. Amen to that – but if you have to watch a long movie I rather pick acting and kungfu over handsomeness.

  30. I can’t recognize Han Xue in the above pic. She looks so strange.

    But KC is a miscast, sure that. Last time he was a miscast for Fu Chai, now for Ip Man.

    1. I would not say she looks strange but different. I also did not recognize her too, but looking more closely you can see that it is her. At least she doesn’t look plastic…

  31. I can’t believe they cast ‘tofu’ for ‘Ip Man’.

    1. We should buy some tofu and eat while watching this TOFU man performing that so-called kung fu.

  32. They should cast a better person instead of this guy. I like watching kung fu series but the cast already destroyed my day. Vincent Zhou should be cast as I found his kung fu performance is much more natural and believable than him.

    1. they cast kevin because the audiences want to watch some ‘porn’ scenes. Look at kevin’s drama like gj2. lots of those scenes. that is why they cast him since he’s much better at this in acting. he’s comparable to real porn stars.

      1. 0_0″ You compare him with porn stars.

        Anyway, I actually prefer VZ over KC as I quite like to see VZ, especially the tai-chi series.

  33. this sounds like an ****** of a drama and it stinks up already with the casting.

    Sure glad Vincent turned it down and they had to find some HK dud, who can’t carry a serie in China for beans.

  34. Kevin has an easy going charm that translate well on screen. However, he lacks intensity, which is what portraying a grandmaster like Ip Man requires.

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