Given Dave Bautista’s background as a wrestler, you might think that making the martial arts extravaganza Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (out April 12) would be within the Guardian of the Galaxy star’s comfort zone. But Bautista found himself all at sea while shooting the film, which is directed by legendary action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping and costars Max Zhang, Liu Yan, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Jaa.
“This is the first Chinese production that I had ever done, and they do things a bit differently,” Bautista tells EW. “I was struggling at first, and they wanted to kind of adjust things and I said, ‘Don’t! I will adjust to you, because I want to learn this. I’m here to work with Woo-Ping, and watch him, and study him, and see how he works.’
“It was hard, hard days,” he continues. “It was a hard film to make, but he’s just incredible, man. I just love him. It’s weird the way he works, because it’s almost like guerrilla filmmaking. It has rhyme and reason, but it’s hard to figure out. But I was lost, completely lost, with what they were doing, and his English is very broken. But he would come out, he’s like 80 years old, and he’s still very physical, and he’d demonstrate what he wanted. He kept saying, ‘You trust me, you trust me, you trust me.’ Then, every once in a while, he would show me clips that he had put together, and it was amazing. It was beautiful, and stylish, and very well done. So it seems chaotic while we were filming, but he had chaos with rhyme and reason. I really have a lot of respect for him. It’s really an honor just to say I worked with him.”
In this spin-off of the Ip Man film series, Zhang plays Cheung Tin Chi, who tries to make a life with his young son in Hong Kong, waiting tables at a bar. But it’s not long before the mix of foreigners, money, and Triad leaders draws him once again to the fight.
Watch the trailer for Master Z: Ip Man Legacy above.