The third installment of the “Ip Man” series premiered Wednesday in Los Angeles at the Pacific Theaters at the Grove. While the movie bowed in Hong Kong over the holidays, both Donnie Yen (Ip Man) and Mike Tyson (Frank) attended the Los Angeles debut of “Ip Man 3,” with much appreciation from fans.
Before the screening, Well Go SVP Jason Pfardrescher led the audience in a classic “Ip Man” chant, complete with a brief Kung Fu move. Both Yen and Tyson introduced the film, eliciting applause from the audience.
“Ip Man 3” follows the iconic character Ip Man — the real-life Wing Chun Kung Fu master who mentored Bruce Lee — as he defends his son’s school when a band of gangsters led by crook Frank attempt to take over the city.
Although “Ip Man 3” has an abundance of Wing Chun Kung Fu, Yen explains he is an actor first, and a martial arts professional second. “I mean at the end of the day, acting is acting, right? The most important [aspect] is just playing the character,” Yen said. “I think there’s an advantage of being a martial arts actor, because not only do you have to craft your acting skills, but you’ve also got to know enough of martial arts.”
Yen’s mother was his first martial arts instructor, and he’s thankful for what his mother instilled in him. “I think from a martial arts background, my mom gave me a very strong foundation,” Yen said. “Of course, I thank my mom for giving me that kind of family background.”
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Tyson retired from fighting in 2005, but has returned to the spotlight through acting. After appearing in pieces such as “The Hangover,” “Entourage” and his one-man show on Broadway, “Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth,” Tyson explained his fighting background has helped his new ventures. “I’m used to being under pressure,” Tyson said. “I’m pretty composed. I believe that gave me an edge.”
Tyson and Yen duke it out in the film, each using his own skill. “If those two have to go head-to-head, that’s going to be a fight,” co-host of “American Ninja Warrior,” Akbar Gbaja-Biamila said. “That’s going to get me out of my seat. That’s too much action for one movie.”
Some of Tyson’s friends attended the premiere to support the new actor. Boxer Danny Musico was 14 years old when he first met Tyson at a training facility in Upstate New York, and he explained his utter excitement for Tyson’s success and appreciation for the martial arts in “Ip Man 3.” “That’s what I actually really love about this movie,” Musico said. “It’s them doing their own fight scenes. A lot of it is they just keep the cameras going when they’re doing it. You wouldn’t know if it’s supposed to be or not supposed to be. It’s just them naturally being fighters.”