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