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Former heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson steps out of the ring and takes on Kung Fu Master, Ip Man (played by Donnie Yen) in his newest film, Ip Man 3.
I sat down with Mike and Donnie, to discuss the film, the differences and history behind Boxing and Martial arts, and their similar experiences growing up troubled teens.
Donnie also gives a few hints of what fans will see in the new Crouching Tiger and Star Wars!
Q: Donnie, this is your sixth film with Director, Wilson Yip what would you say was the easiest part of filming with someone you’ve filmed with before, and what was the hardest when you’ve worked together so often?
Donnie: Uh, we don’t have a hard part. I always enjoy working with him. And he’s a very timid, shy person. He’s not very expressive. So as an actor, if you don’t know him, sometime you really can’t get a clear understanding of his directions. But I do know him so he doesn’t have to explain to me. I can see. “Is that what you want,” and he says “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” “Kinda that direction?” “Oh yeah.” You know, there’s no downside so I am going to continue working with him.
Q: Mike, we know you from your legendary history in boxing and the impact you made on the sport. When choreographing the fight scenes for the movie, was it difficult for you to maneuver as an actor so you didn’t hurt somebody as you would have in the boxing ring?
Mike: Not too hard. I am a professional.
Donnie: He’s very controlled
Mike: I am not going to make any mistakes. If anything, I am going to be getting hurt. The person in front of me is not going to get hurt.
Q: What was a typical scene like when you were filming the fight scenes?
Mike: Long scenes, real long fight scenes. And not many cuts so the scenes were prolonged. It was the best I ever did in a movie. If I were to say which is the best movie with the most simplistic but I have gotten the most out of it from an educational perspective, I would say this movie right here. I left this movie saying “Hey, I am more than what I was when I came here.”
Q: Donnie, there are a lot of fighters out there. Obviously, Mike is an icon, but how and why did you decide on Mike Tyson, and what did you think that he would bring to the role that no other boxer could.
Donnie: I’ve always been a big fan of Mike, you know, he’s legend. For me it was a total honor and thrill to be able to not only work with Mike, but also fought in my third installment. So hopefully Mike is going to return for the fourth installment.
Q: Donnie, this one has a lot of action, but for Crouching Tiger, and also Rogue One: A Star Wards Story, do you have also a chance to do a different style of fighting?
Donnie: Totally different. Very different. Crouching Tiger is more of a sports movie: long hair and you see them flying up the roof. Doing all kinds of ballistic, graceful movements against gravity like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. So this is very different. For an actor, I am very fortunate and blessed that I was given the opportunity of these three such different roles and movies
Q: Donnie, can you explain what martial arts means to you and Mike, what boxing means to you?
Mike: I don’t know, there’s so many different degrees of it. From a spiritual perspective, from a human perspective, from a physical perspective I have found. I call myself a fighter, my whole life I am just a fighter. And I learned the art of fighting is not fighting. And that’s the real art of fighting. Sometimes we don’t always master arts, do we?
Donnie: Well I grew up as a martial artist, my mother teaches martial arts. And fortunately I can use my upbringing and turn it into a career. Not intentionally, but everything happens for a reason. You know my back story. I was brought into the industry, discovered by Yuen Woo-Ping (choreographer) some 33 years ago. And then I never stopped working. Very blessed. For me, it’s all part of destiny. Part of my life. This is my life, and it’s part of destiny.
Q: You guys both were trouble teenager when you were young. What did that life experience teach you? What would you say to your younger self today?
Mike: Younger me? Okay. Well I have to say, from the relationship I have with my son, that younger me might have told me today to go f**k yourself. That’s what I am dealing with now. So, and I am saying to myself, his friends, any other kids will listen to me because of the dread, but he doesn’t. And that just means that he is so stupid. He’s just so stupid, I just worry about my son.
Donnie: I am pretty much the same with Mike, but more the reserved way.
Q: Donnie, what advice do you have for teenagers who are having a hard time?
Donnie: As a parent, as a father, I am still learning everyday. It is tough to grow up in society today. It was tough back then, it’s even tougher now. I don’t know all the answers. And I am trying to explore them. So I am just learning as they grow, and I am growing with them.
Ip Man 3 is in theaters now.