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July 24, 2009

IP Man, last year’s top Hong Kong action film cum biopic about the real-life Wing Chun master, was so successful at the box office that director Wilson Yip is back with a second offering.

And while the first focused primarily on the trials and tribulations of Master Ip – best known to the world as iconic legend Bruce Lee’s martial arts teacher – sequel Ip Man II will introduce audiences to a young Bruce Lee.

With last generation’s gongfu heroes Jet Li and Jackie Chan heading towards retirement, it is perhaps, a fitting time to search for the next action star, the young Bruce Lee of the 21st century.

TAN KEE YUN susses out five young guns, each with different qualities, and pits them against each other over a five-star rating for the coveted spot.


Former Cantopop ‘bad boy’ and now a bonafide actor with intense roles in movies like Dragon Tiger Gate, The Beast Stalker and Invisible Target

Resemblance: A little too suave to be Bruce Lee. Nevertheless, when it comes to height, Nic beats the others hands down. At just slightly above 1.7m, he is the closest to Bruce’s height.

Fight Might: No martial arts background, but in his recent films, he does his own stunts. As he wrote on his blog, he picked up Muay Thai and practised the art of Wing Chun when he was filming a TV series with Sammo Hung.

Charisma: Undoubtedly handsome, it helps too, that Nic is a major fan of Bruce Lee.



One-quarter of the delectable boyband F4, who has come into his own as a leading man in action-packed films such as Star Runner, Dragon Squad and Kungfu Chef.

Resemblance: His eyes are too beady, his skin too fair. The only resemblance to Bruce would be his muscular, hunky frame.

Fight Might: He can’t fight in real life. But in reel life, Van Ness plays action parts convincingly. His background as a dancer probably helps.

Charisma: Van Ness is the sort of artiste who will have fans split in two extreme camps. You either adore his ABC (American-born Chinese) mannerisms, or hate his ‘pretentiousness’.



B-list actor who shot to fame in Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer and Kungfu Hustle, dance choreographer, as well as lead singer of his own underground rock band.

Resemblance: Too similar to be true! Danny cuts a spitting image of Bruce and made audiences gawk when he first appeared in Shaolin Soccer, imitating Bruce’s most memorable moves. He was so convincing that he was subsequently cast to play Bruce in a mainland China TV series: The Legend Of Bruce Lee.

Fight Might: Who cares? So long as he can strike a Bruce Lee-like pose convincingly.

Charisma: Not a conventional good-looker, but surely, with a face that looks so much like the world’s greatest martial arts hero, we say Danny is destined for bigger things ahead.



Brunei-born heart-throb now based in Taiwan, who has conquered the teenage market along with the other members of bubblegum boy group Farenheit.

Resemblance: Erm, actually, zero resemblance. He is in here simply because he is so unbelievably cute.

Fight Might: Relatively untested. Last seen in the period film The Butterfly Lovers, he played a scholar who hardly needs to lift a sword. He is a gym rat and sports fan who recently opened his own fitness centre in Brunei.

Charisma: For the zillions of wide-eyed girls from Singapore to Japan, Wu Chun is their man. You can take our word that they will catch him in any role he plays.



Trained in wushu since the age of 11, American-born Daniel has proven himself to be a serious actor. He has taken on a wide range of roles that has challenged his acting abilities, most recently as a drug addict in The Shinjuku Incident.

Resemblance: Though he doesn’t look like Bruce Lee, Daniel immerses himself in his characters such that he literally transforms himself into them. Best example: he was utterly evil as the baddie in New Police Story. Take on Bruce Lee? Like method actor Christian Bale, Daniel will have his ways to make sure he looks the part.

Fight Might: Come on, this guy founded the University of Oregon Wushu Club and headed his team as coach. Nuff’ said.

Charisma: Dark, brooding and stoic, Daniel carries the same emotional intensity as Bruce once did.



Though Bruce Lee lookalike Danny Chan has the upper hand with resemblance, we think it’s more important that one embodies the real spirit of martial arts to play Bruce Lee. Thus, our choice, if we could have our way, would be Daniel Wu.


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