Movie Feature

Go back to the future… with a prequel

By Tay Yek KeakMovies - 26 November 2010 3:00 PM | Updated 14 February 2011

Go back to the future… with a prequel

First, there’s Donnie Yen as Wing Chun master, Ip Man. Next, Dennis To goes back in time to play Ip Man as a still-green novice in Ip Man: The Legend Is Born.  Then the comedy, Kung Fu Wing Chun, back-pedals even further into bygone days when the gongfu style hasn’t even been named yet.

Turns out it’s named after a kickass chick, Yim Wing Chun, circa the Qing Dynasty. And here I thought Wing Chun was named after a chicken wing.

Meanwhile, Bruce Lee, Ip Man’s famous pupil, gets a minus 2.0 treatment with the new prequel – Bruce Lee, My Brother – where the dragon is portrayed as a rebellious punk in Hong Kong who dances the cha cha.

HK-China action flicks are cashing in on the Ip Man craze right now because it’s the new Wong Fei Hung-Fong Sai Yuk  franchise.

So, the time machine is cranking non-stop as Asian filmmakers travel backwards to dig out whatever scraps they can find to turn myths into movies. Stay tuned for Ip Man’s Great-Great Granddad: The Ashes Are Born.

And even Hollywood is reversing too. Actually, it never stopped bending backwards like Paris Hilton in in her infamous ‘home movie’ tape for its endless prequels – Star Wars Episodes I to III, Hannibal Rising, Exorcist: The Beginning, etc. I left out Psycho IV: The Beginning in case you want to kill yourself in the shower.   

Next year’s X-Men movie will copy last year’s Star Trek redux. Young Kirk met young Spock in Star Trek: Kindergarten. X-Men: First Class is going to do a Botox job too. The baldie, Professor Xavier, and the baddie, Magneto, portrayed as nursing-home oldies in previous X-Men films, will square off as young dudes this time. Wolverine apparently isn’t in the show. But since there’s already been a Wolverine prequel, X-Men Origins, we’re spared First Class becoming a prequel to a prequel.

I know this is getting confusing. How do you go back younger and younger and not look like Cher with a plastic face? I mean, not everybody ages backwards fabulously like Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button.

Here’s how it is – sequels get made because they’re easy for people who’re too lazy to consider something new. Think about it.

It’s like flipping the same fish over when you’ve finished eating one side. The flavour is already there, the soup is the same, but there’s this irresistible appetite to know the back story of how the fish ended up dead on the table in the first place. 

When it’s as good as The Godfather Part II, with Robert De Niro impersonating Marlon Brando as a young gangster, it’s delicious. When it sucks like the Star Wars prequel with that annoying little brat as Darth Vader the Younger, you’d want to puke in the toilet.

Not every walk backwards sounds good, okay? If you ask Peter Jackson if he had a choice between making Lord Of The Rings prequel, The Hobbit, or rebooting Aragorn as a punk kid played by Justin Bieber, I guarantee he’ll go for the latter if Tolkien had written that.   

It all depends on how much junk was spilled the first time. The coolest prequel this year is Paranormal Activity 2, because Paranormal Activity 1 left so many questions unanswered. But if too much had been shown the first time and history rewinds back into a really boring Stone Age, it could get ridiculous.

Billy Crystal, in the comedy City Slickers, issued this timely warning to a guy who kept reversing in time by dating younger and younger women.

“Soon you’ll be dating sperm.”


Did these prequels work?

Star Wars Episodes I to III

Prequel to:Star Wars Episode IV to VI (original series)

Darth Vader is portrayed in his salad days by a peanut, Jake Lloyd, and a tomato, Hayden Christensen

Better than the original?  Hell, no. Are you kidding? So bad they almost killed the original force. 


The Godfather Part II

Prequel to:The Godfather

The Don, initially a moody Marlon Brando, goes back in flashbacks to be an even moodier Robert De Niro

Better than the original?  Equal. Just about the only prequel that matches its predecessor. 


Hannibal Rising

Prequel to:The Silence Of The Lambs

Some unknown punk (Gaspard Ulliel) tries to convince us that he’s Anthony Hopkins, Hannibal Lecter himself, in the making 

Better than the original?  No. Sucks worse than Hannibal the Cannibal’s bite.


Star Trek

Prequel to:Star Trek (original series)

Zachary Quinto’s Spock Jr and Chris Pine’s Kirk Jr make it look like 90210 in space

Better than the original?  Almost. But we love the old fogeys too much. 


Infernal Affairs II

Prequel to:  Infernal Affairs

Edison Chen and Shawn Yue play younger versions of bad boy Andy Lau and undercover cop Tony Leung Chiu Wai

Better than the original?  No. Put it this way – even the actual younger versions of Lau and Leung cannot top the older versions.


Ip Man: The Legend Is Born

Prequel to:  Ip Man and Ip Man 2

Dennis To looks, fights and probably farts like Donnie Yen as he transforms from Who Man into Ip Man

Better than the original?  No. Only one dude can Wing Chun-kick down the overpowering image of Yen as Ip Man – Bruce Lee.