It is not often that a film benefits from having not just one legend, but two associated with it. Ip Man has two. Starring the legendary Donnie Yen in what is quite possibly his best role ever and featuring choreography by the legendary Sammo Hung. (Who when asked how he was going to work with Yen to direct the action scenes, Hung replied matter-of-factly, “With my mouth.”) *Wikipedia*
Both men are well-known for their fight choreography with Sammo nudging Donnie out by sheer number of years that he’s been practising his craft.
Directed with past Yen collaborator Wilson Yip, Ip Man is the “true story” of Yip Man grandmaster of Wing Chun and master of film legend Bruce Lee. Touted as being semi-biographcal, the film is pretty liberal with the “truth” as things of this nature tend to be. While the rudimentary facts may be correct a lot of things were added to make the film more entertaining.
Despite this frugality with the real facts, the film is a powerful one. The recreation of Foshan in Shanghai looks so authentic you feel as if the film company had really gone back in time to shoot the scenes.
Some complaints were raised about Ip Man’s house being incorrect and that he never shovelled coal during the occupation and the facts of his move to Hong Kong are misleading. But as the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance says, “print the legend.” Or in this case, make it up.
Yen is stunning as the placid, peace-loving martial artist who won’t give lessons and spars with the local masters privately in order to save them the public embarrassment of being beaten.
At one point, he has to take on a usurper from outside the town. This ruffian fights his way through all the Foshan martial art instructors until only Ip Man is left. Going to his home, the outsider brings what looks like the members of every school in the town to watch him beat Ip Man.
Everyone in Foshan knows that Ip Man will be victorious and he is.
Everything changes in 1937 when the Japanese invade China and this is where majority of the drama and tension come into the film.
The fight scenes are exciting, original, and furious. The Wing Chun style is breathtaking to watch and the other martial arts battles are impressive as well.
The entire cadre of actors in the film sold their characters and I spotted quite a few familiar faces in it.
My only complaint was that in some instances parts of the story were a bit “over the top” so that it almost felt like a “kitchen sink” drama instead of a biopic. But theatricality aside the film looks, overall, fantastic and I got caught up with the characters and the “true” story completely.
A real 5 out of 5 stars for a film that had me munching my popcorn furiously throughout. I’m now going to “watch’ my way through the rest of the films in this four film series.
Even if you don’t love martial arts films the story of Yip Man could turn you into a fan.
- Ip Man: The Final Fight 叶问：终极一战 (shilianglim.wordpress.com)
- Ip Man (2008) (myfilmviews.com)
- Ip Man: The Final Fight by Herman Yau (hkauteur.wordpress.com)
- Michelle Yeoh honored at Asian Film Awards (miamiherald.com)
- Ip Man best fighting scenes (actorsmix.com)
- Looks Like We Are Getting An ‘Ip Man 3′..And Is Bruce Lee Part Of The Story? (xavierpop.com)
- Watch Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013) Online (movies20k.wordpress.com)