ike Tyson, who was the youngest heavyweight boxing champion of the world, joined the cast of “Ip Man 3,” the third installment of the $36 million Kung Fu biopic about the famed Chinese martial artist.
Ip Man 3 will tell the story of the master-student relationship between Ip Man and Bruce Lee.
The film reunites the team that made the first two movies, and is executive-produced by Shi, founder and CEO of Shanghai Kuailu Investment Group.
Tyson is set to have a significant role as a property developer who also happens to be a street fighter in Ip Man 3.
Tyson will have fighting scenes with Donnie Yen.
Shi hopes that the introduction of Tyson can further facilitate the cultural exchange between China and U.S., especially in the film industry.
“I always have a dream about Chinese movies,” said Shi.
“Chinese culture can provide such great raw ingredients, but we lack techniques and professionalism of production.
By learning from the Hollywood, we can play a greater role on the world stage and make our voices heard.” Shi said Tyson decided to come aboard right after a conversation with him on a Chinese Kong Fu movie earlier this year, when Shi was invited to Los Angeles for the Oscars and investment opportunities with Paramount Pictures.
Tyson said he’s a big fan of Ip Man and has watched the first two movies more than three times each.
Martial artist Donnie Yen will reprise his role as Ip Man.
Ip Man (1893-1972) was a Chinese martial artist who popularized the practice of Wing Chun, a discipline specialized in close-range combat.
“I liked reading martial arts novels when I was a little child, and have been fascinated with Kong Fu since then,” said Shi. “I think of myself as macho, generous and bold, just like those novel characters.
After talking with Tyson, I also found him warm and loyal to friends.
That’s why we swore to be brothers.” Donnie Yen exchanged gifts with Tyson on Wednesday’s press conference.
Tyson gave a boxing glove to Yen, who in return gave a set of mook jongs, or wooden dummies used in martial arts training.
Executive producer Shi also sent a sword to Tyson, wishing him a thriving film career in China.
One of Ip Man’s most famous pupils was Bruce Lee, who later developed his own discipline, Jeet Kune Do.
Tyson, who was born in 1966 and grew in the tough Brownsville section of Brooklyn, recently talked about how bullying forced him to forge his own style of street fighting.
“I was abused any way a human being could be abused as a kid,” Mike Tyson told GQ earlier this month.
“I’ve been bullied all the time; It had a profound effect on me as a child.
I wish it didn’t but it’s had a real profound affect.
I’m a really sensitive guy and – how can I explain this – from being bullied I can be really malevolent.
I don’t even like to talk like that, but yea.
Being bullied, it’s like you can track a really disgusting terminal cancer within you.
Something you never forget.
You never forget it.” “The movie also conveys the spirit of emotion and justice,” said Shi.
“This year marks the 70th anniversary of World War II, and the 110th of the founding of the Chinese film industry.
I feel like I’m not only publishing a movie, but carrying forward the Chinese spirit as well.” Shi said as China’s movies industry continuing to soar, it has drawn continued investment and more attention from overseas stars.
In 2012, the Asian superpower overtook Japan to become the second largest film market worldwide, closing fast on the international movie giant the U.S.
China’s box office grew 37% over the past year to $4.8 billion.
Every day in China, 15 new cinema screens are added to the country’s huge collection of 25,000.
The previous Ip Man series produced by Pegasus Films chief Raymond Wong grossed $37 million worldwide, and created a sensation for a while among the audience.
Shi is optimistic about the box office prospects of Ip Man 3, which is tentatively scheduled for release in 3D in the first quarter of 2016.