Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ip Man 2 Packs Box Office Punch

Ip Man 2 (叶问2:宗师传奇, pinyin: Yè Wèn 2: Zōng Shī Chuán Qí), the sequel to the 2008 biopic of one of China's most famous martial arts grandmasters, has proved a winner at the box office. Released at the end of April, the film grossed over 100 million yuan (or just under US$15 million) on the mainland in its first week. Box office figures were boosted by the timing of its release, during the profitable May Day holiday break. In its second week of release it went head-to-head against the Hollywood blockbuster Iron Man 2, with the Chinese press reporting that the local film more than held its own.

So far, mainland box office takings are over 200 million yuan (according to its producer Raymond Wong), which makes it the most profitable Chinese-language film so far in 2010. It has also more than doubled the earnings of the original Ip Man. Whether Ip Man 2 reaches the ambitious target of 300 million yuan set by director Wilson Yip remains to be seen. If it does, that could push it close to being the second biggest grossing Chinese film of all time, behind The Founding of a Republic (which earned more than 400 million yuan) but alongside Bodyguards and Assassins.

Ip Man 2 has also been a hit in both Hong Kong and Singapore. In Hong Kong, it was released at the same time as Iron Man 2 but surprisingly out-grossed it at the box office. In its first week, it took in HK$13 million (US$1.7 million), and so far has taken a total of HK$40 million. In Singapore, Ip Man 2 has become the highest-grossing Hong Kong film of all time. It has now taken in S$4.5 million (US$3.15 million), beating the previous record-holder, the Stephen Chow classic, Kung Fu Hustle.

In Ip Man 2, Donnie Yen (甄子丹, pinyin: Zhēn Zǐdān) returns in the title role, with Simon Yam (任达华, pinyin: Rén Dáhuá) and Lynn Hung (熊黛林, pinyin: Xióng Dàilín) also appearing again as his close friend and wife respectively. It also features Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明), recent winner of Most Popular Actor at the Beijing Student Film Festival, and Hong Kong kung fu film legend Sammo Hung (洪金宝, pinyin: Hóng Jīnbǎo). Set in post-war Hong Kong, Ip Man 2 continues where Ip Man left off, focusing on his struggles to establish a Wing Chun martial arts school in the then British colony.

The original Ip Man movie, besides doing well at the box office, was also a critical success. It won Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2009, while Donnie Yen's awards included Best Actor at last year's Beijing Student Film Festival.

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