Ip Man

"Very Good"

Ip Man Review


A terrific true story, clearly elevated to mythical proportions, this film benefits hugely from the lucid fight direction by the master Sammo Hung, which gives the film a remarkable resonance by letting us see the characters' personalities in their every move.

In 1930s provincial China, Ip (Yen) is a very private wing chun master who doesn't want to run a school or prove his skill. With virtually no aggression, he easily beats anyone who challenges him, so the town knows he's the true local master. And an interloping thug (Fan) finds this out the hard way. Ip remains quietly devoted to his wife and son (Hung and Li), but after Japan invades China, things get very difficult. Especially when Ip stands up to both the returning thug and the Japanese general (Ikeuchi).

Clearly, Ip is a national treasure in China and, for sheer inspirational value, he deserves to be. Yes, the filmmakers show perhaps too much reverence for him, implying that he singlehandedly defeated the invading Japanese army as they build to a Rocky-style finale and a coda that mentions how Ip taught Bruce Lee everything he knew. But it also has to be said that they state their case effectively, portraying Ip as a steely, calm genius who always deflected attention away from himself and only reluctantly became a hero.

Yen is excellent in the role, lending the fight scenes a surprising edge. The battle choreography is fiendishly clever, and Yen stays utterly cool and focussed, building in wry humour and emotional undercurrents along the way.

Ip's unbending pride is perhaps his only flaw, and yet it's great fun to watch him humiliate his opponents and motivate those around him to stand up for themselves, most engagingly the workers in a factory owned by his lifelong friend Quan (Yam).

And the filmmakers aren't afraid to get dark and tough, showing the raw brutality of war and conflict with only a bit of movie manipulation in characters who are courageous, weak or villainous. By the time we reach the climactic face-off (or three), things have become truly brutal and nasty. It might be a little exaggerated, and also fairly straightforward in its storytelling, but it's a seriously powerful tale.



Ip Man

Facts and Figures

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th December 2008

Box Office Worldwide: $21.9M

Budget: $11.7M

Distributed by: Well Go USA

Production compaines: Mandarin Films Distribution Co.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Wilson Yip

Producer: Raymond Wong

Starring: as Ip Man, as Chow Ching-Chuen, as Master Zealot Lin, Wong Yau-Nam as Shao Dan Yuan, Chen Zhi Hui as Master Liao, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung as Captain Lei Chiu, Lynn Hung as Cheung Wing-Sing, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi as Miura, Fan Siu-Wong as Jin Shan Zhao / Kam Shan-Chau, Tenma Shibuya as Colonel Sato

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