Donnie Yen's done with kung fu films but not action flicks; he also denies trying to buy a Singapore property

PHOTO: Shaw Organisation
PHOTO: Shaw Organisation

SINGAPORE — Ip Man 4: The Finale is Donnie Yen’s last martial arts movie — but it will not be his last action movie.

The Hong Kong star clarified the confusion for fans as he spoke to reporters while in Singapore yesterday (10 Dec) to attend the gala premiere of the last chapter of the Ip Man film series, which chronicles the exploits of the eponymous legendary Wing Chun master.

56-year-old Yen had said two weeks ago that Ip Man 4 would be his last kung fu film, leading to fans thinking that he was no longer starring in action roles.

“This instalment will be a good point to conclude the series,” said Yen of the film, which opens to the public on 20 Dec. It’s also the action star’s way to “say goodbye” to martial arts movies.

Yen explained at a press conference that action movies are not necessarily martial arts movies, although martial arts movies are definitely action movies. And as the film industry has evolved, he said, many blockbuster hits today are action movies, such as the Marvel movies.

After Ip Man 4, Yen has several movies slated for 2020, such as Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan, a Chinese New Year action comedy Enter the Fat Dragon, and action thriller Raging Fire.

So audiences can rest assured that Yen will still be involved in the broader genre of action films, just not martial arts movies.

Hong Kong action film actor Donnie Yen (in striped jacket) interacting with fans before a gala premiere of Ip Man 4: The Finale at Shaw Theatres Lido in Singapore on 10 December 2019. (PHOTO: Shaw Organisation)
Donnie Yen interacting with fans before the gala premiere of Ip Man 4 at Shaw Theatres Lido on 10 Dec. He is grateful for local fans' dedication. (PHOTO: Shaw Organisation)

But even though he may be leaving the martial arts movie scene, he is grateful to have played Ip Man. “Not every actor can find an iconic role,” said Yen, whose name and visage are now synonymous with film portrayals of Ip Man.

Yen also observed that it is usually difficult for film franchises to progress after a second instalment, especially when quality might become inconsistent. But not so with the Ip Man films. “The Ip Man film series continued to garner audience support after the third film,” said Yen.

After Ip Man 3, the production team had decided not to go forward with the franchise. But popular demand and fan support caused them to reconsider.

Finally, years later, Yip Wai Shun called Yen. The director of the Ip Man films had a new story to tell to audiences.

Yen also joked that audiences have “grown young” alongside the character of Ip Man, ever since the first film hit movie screens in 2008. The character has become as familiar to them as an old friend, and he hopes that the movie will pay off the emotional attachment they have developed toward him.

Donnie Yen stars as Ip Man in Ip Man 4. (Shaw Organisation)
Donnie Yen as Ip Man in Ip Man 4: The Finale. The character has become an iconic role for Yen. (PHOTO: Shaw Organisation)

The actor was also touched by the dedication of fans here in Singapore. He interacted with fans at Our Tampines Hub on Monday (9 Dec), where he unveiled the Ip Man Pavilion, as well as at Shaw Theatres Lido before the gala screening of his film. “I heard that some fans had started queueing from 12pm for the (Tampines) event, and some of them even sacrificed their dinner to attend the event,” said Yen. He appreciated the fact that so many fans turned up for the unveiling, despite it being a Monday and despite having work and school commitments the next day.

So after being moved by local fans, is the actor looking for a home in Singapore? Property site EdgeProp had reported that Yen and his wife, Cissy Wang, were in Singapore viewing luxury condominiums just this October.

He put those rumours to rest by stating he was not looking for a property in Singapore at the moment. “Singapore houses are not cheap,” he said with a bemused grin, echoing the sentiments of any homeowner here.

What really transpired was that Yen’s friends had wanted to look at properties in Singapore, so he accompanied them to Singapore. He likened the property viewings to window shopping.

“I like looking at nice things,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean you’re going to buy it.”

Watch out for Yahoo Lifestyle’s review of Ip Man 4: The Finale coming soon!

Ip Man 4: The Finale opens in cinemas:
- 20 December, 2019 (Singapore)
- 20 December, 2019 (Malaysia)

Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter who writes for “Crimewatch”, as well as popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Code of Law”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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