Action (Martial Arts)
Running Time: 106 minutes
Starring: Donnie Yen
Directed By: Wilson Yip
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
A man must fight for the survival of his family in occupied China during the Sino-Japanese war.
Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Sammo Hung are all masters of their art. There is only one legend though and that is Bruce Lee. Of course Bruce Lee must have learned his craft somewhere and that is where the movie Ip Man finds us. This is the story of Bruce Lee’s mentor Ip Man and his mastery of the fighting style called Wing Chun. The film follows Ip Man’s life as he tries to live a peaceful existence with his family. That is hard to do with so many people pestering him for training. It is even harder to do with Japan’s occupation of China during World War 2 and the poverty that ensues from it.
If you are a fan of martial arts movies and haven’t seen this then you are missing out on a great film. Ip Man marches at its own pace and doesn’t seem to force any of the action. The movie starts and we are introduced to Ip Man and to his wife and son. They live a quiet existence in their nice house but that is all about to be shattered. They live in a town called Fo Shan where many martial arts masters have schools with varying techniques. All look up to Ip Man though as his fighting skills are unmatched. The film does things the right way as it gives you a taste of Ip Mans skills early on. There is not a long wait to get to see his fighting style and it is truly a great thing to behold. His brand of martial arts translates into great fight sequences that the director lets you enjoy by not doing quick editing. Like most martial arts movies the story is nothing special. They want you to get emotionally invested in Ip Man's hardships but it doesn’t seem to work. Sure there are a couple of touching scenes but the story merely serves the purpose of getting Ip Man to his next physical encounter.
Ip Man is played by another master in Donnie Yen. I did not include his name at the start of this review as he is not as well known in the North American market. He is been around forever it seems and you might recognize him from films such as Iron Monkey or Shanghai Knights. He is fantastic in this film. He portrays Ip Man almost as a Jedi Knight from Star Wars. He seems to be able to control his emotions and his super polite and humble attitude only enhances the performance. There is something so cool in watching a man with humility that can basically kill every person on the planet with his bare hands. He is just amazing to watch as he punches and kicks his way through different fight scenarios. You will be shocked at how many punches this guy can throw in such a short amount of time. He also inflicts one of the worst broken legs I have ever seen in a film (take that Seagal). He was awesome. The rest of the cast do solid jobs supporting Ip Man. There are many great fighters to be seen in this film so you won’t be disappointed in that department.
As the film progresses you will find yourself waiting for Ip Mans next fight and really nothing else. Do you care about the townspeople? Not really. Do you care about the war? Not really. Do you care about Ip Man's family? Not really. This is kind of sad as the story is really poignant it just doesn’t come off that well. Seeing a people subjugated and under occupation should be an emotional watch and yet I never really felt the populaces or his family's struggle. Really though it didn’t matter as all you wanted to see was Ip Man beat on people and this movie delivers this time and time again. Even the fight scenes that don't include Ip Man are intense and worthy of this critics praise. Some people might not appreciate the wire work as the physics of it would make Isaac Newton’s head hurt but I found it only enhanced the fighting. As the film comes to its end the viewer will be more than satisfied with a film that literally punches its way into your heart. Ip Man fights with honor, integrity, humility, and lastly he kicks some serious ass making this film a treat.
Director Wilson Yip took and interesting character and just ran with it. He uses great camera work coupled with Sammo Hung’s choreography to maximum effect. It leads to visuals you will not want to miss. The story (script by Edmond Wong) has a lot to be desired but the film is never slow. It has a perfect amount of action to story. Although the fighting is a little over the top it is also why this film is so awesome. Director Yip gives you a taste of Ip Man’s life and will leave you wanting for more.
I give this movie a big recommendation but especially to those who like martial art films. Ip Man is a character not to be missed.
T Factor + If you like Martial Art films this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like subtitles this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Magnificent Butcher, Fearless.