cg-bruce-lee

The first two Ip Man films are quite good, but the third, which is just starting to go into production, is already starting to sound like it features some odd decisions. Not only will Mike Tyson show up in a significant role in Ip Man 3, but the producers of the film are resorting to visual effects to revive one of the title character’s most famous students.

This third chapter in the story of the martial artist who ended up teaching the late Bruce Lee will finally feature Lee himself. (OK, Lee appeared as a child at the very end of Ip Man 2.) But while the people behind Ip Man 3 tried to find someone who could play a young version of Lee in the movie, they failed to do so. So they’re just going to use a CG Bruce Lee instead. 

THR reports that Mike Tyson’s role will be “a property developer who is also a street fighting boxer.” He’ll reportedly fight famed martial arts film star Donnie Yen, who plays the film’s title character.

But the real attention-getting detail, buried in the article, is this:

Kung fu icon Bruce Lee will also appear as a young pupil of Ip Man. The film producers were unable to find an actor to portray Lee’s intensity onscreen so have decided to use computer graphics to recreate the most authentic Lee in the film.

The original plan for Ip Man 2 was to focus on the trainer’s work with Lee, but producers couldn’t secure Lee’s life rights in time for the 2009 shoot. Presumably that has all been worked out, which means the Lee estate might be on board with the idea of recreating him in CG.

We see digital characters created all the time now in films, with digital face replacement used more often than you’d expect in many major films. But there’s still something unsettling about using the tech to recreate actors who have died. (Exceptions can be made for a film like Furious 7, where Paul Walker died during production, and CG recreations were used as one of many techniques to allow the film to be finished.)

Ip Man 3 (in 3D) is loosely scheduled for release in the first few months of 2016, at least in China.

[Bruce Lee image via the fan-made CG short A Warrior’s Dream.]

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