Ip Man (Day 19)
MY OPINION: 6.3 || Great martial arts in the service of a solid, morally serious story. Donnie Yen is wonderful as Master Ip — not only in the terrific kung-fu action but also in his great composure and dignity. He’s a compelling character in addition to being a world class ass kicker.
TITLE: Ip Man (Yip Man)
DIRECTOR: Wilson Yip
LANGUAGE: Cantonese | COUNTRY: Hong Kong
PROFILE: Action, Martial Arts, War | 106 minutes | IMDb (8.1)
SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of Netflix): An occupying Japanese general (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) challenges Chinese men to duels so he can prove the superiority of the Japanese. Ip Man (Donnie Yen) — a Chinese martial arts master forced to work in the mines — refuses to fight, but can resist for only so long. Revisit the early days of Ip Man, who gained later fame as an early trainer of Bruce Lee.
Strengths: It’s impossible to watch the movie without admiring (in a crush-like way) the art of Wing Chun, which Master Ip explains is based on balance and benevolence. The filmmakers and Donnie Yen imbue the film with a sense of decency that help it become more than a simple action-fest. It’s a well filmed movie, with beautiful cinematography to go with the fight choreography.
Weaknesses: The occupying Japanese are portrayed as standard movie bad guys, while Master Ip is treated to unreserved hero worship. Along the same lines, the northern Chinese thug who serves as the secondary nemesis for Ip is nothing but a foil, with no depth. Not huge problems for a film like this, but it would have been nice to see a little nuance and genuine moral struggle.
Best Scene: Several good ones, but I’ll highlight the early fight scene where Master Ip defeats the uncouth thug who’s bust into his home. It stands out for balancing the great kung-fu with several moments of humor and provides the movie’s best photography.
File Under: martial arts, World War II, dignity, great action