Yip Man


Action / Biography / Drama / Sport


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January 27, 2012 at 01:00 PM



Donnie Yen as Yip Man
Lynn Hung as Cheung Wing-Sing
Simon Yam as Chow Ching-Chuen
Siu-Wong Fan as Jin Shan Zhao / Kam Shan-Chau
649.37 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 46 min
P/S 21 / 214

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Akira-36 9 / 10

Energetic & brilliant HK action drama

This is Donnie Yen's best acting piece for awhile now, and he still delivers the action sequences brilliantly. At 44 years of age, he looks so energetic, confident and charismatic. I believe the combination of Yen, Sammo Hung and Wilson Yip is the right choice for this particular film and fighting style. Wing Chun is best depicted without the flamboyant ballet of acrobatics often seen in other wushu films.

The movie doesn't dwell on historical accuracy, but rather use that settings to set the mood, deliver the message and simply tells you the life journey of a Grandmaster in an fun and entertaining way.

I remember that Richard Attenborough said (regarding Gandhi) that there was no way a director/movie maker could encompass and depict a person's life journey in only a 2 or 3-hour movie. But rather one should aim to emulate the spirit of that person, and the message/lesson of his story. I think this movie does that, with a quality production that raised the bar for period drama.

My rating is missing 1 point because I feel that there were plot devices that had been done-to-death before in other movies like: Fists of Fury, Fearless, Kill Bill, etc. However, Yip Man simply turns the notch to a higher sound-beating level.

Don't miss this on the big screen!

Reviewed by dont_b_so_BBC 9 / 10

"Wing Chun, Ip Man."-- Donnie Yen.

No wonder Ip Chun (Ip Man's son, consultant to this movie) was so pleased-- from the twinkle in his eyes to the lifting of his feet, Donnie Yen inhabits this movie like he is possessed by Ip Man. And as Ip Man himself explains early in the movie: "the key is the person."

Revolving around the central (true) event of Ip Man rejecting the Japanese's "request" to train their soldiers when they occupied China and eventually sparring with them, this is essentially a genre movie built around the martial arts set-piece (Wing Chun vs Karate, see the trailer) "exploding" mid-way through.

And what a movie they have built up around their central show-piece! Taking on the common martial arts/Kung Fu Movie theme of "what can one martial artist do against a turbulent world/time?" (one of the movie's promotional tag-lines), the story "hook" is not whether Ip Man will win-- but rather when he will be forced to fight and what would happen when he does. And the notable level of acting, scripting, production, etc. --highlighting not only Ip Man but also the plight of his family, friends and townsmen-- really ramps up the drama and "heart" for audiences who might not care for the genre. One evidence for this is how "Ip Man" garnered 12 nominations for the 2009 HK Film Awards in both the acting/directing and technical categories-- though it really stands out as a killer Kung-Fu Film, and consequently won for Best Action Director and Best Film.

In short, "Ip Man" is quite a good ("mainstream") movie-- but a great martial arts/Kung Fu (not "action", as Donnie Yen points out during interviews) movie. And some telling numbers explain why:

There are around 12 fights or so (depending on how you count them) evenly spaced throughout the film, with Donnie Yen in almost half of them-- with 3 or so weapon fights (not counting guns) and 5 or so group fights (anything with more than 2 people)-- which is why this is a martial arts movie, and not an "action" movie (no explosions, chases, shoot-outs, etc.). The shortest fight takes about 10 seconds and his longest runs around 2 minutes-- which gels with Donnie Yen's belief that real people fight to win and don't "pose, talk, fight, run, and... pose, talk, fight, run and...". Together with the miscellaneous violence (guns, etc.), the audience is virtually given an "adrenaline shot" every 5 minutes or so to give audiences something to laugh, cry or even cheer about.

Of course, it also inspired in me a new-found respect for Wing Chun (Ip Man's school of martial arts)-- as well as action director Sammo Hung's "tight" choreography and camera-work (in China/HK, action directors control the camera as well as direct the actors). The close-to-mid range shots make it easier to "catch" the stunt doubles... but just like everything else in the movie-- blink and you'll miss it!

For much like Wing Chun, everything in this movie get to the point quickly-- so that at over 100 minutes, the movie feels much too short.... But thank you, Wilson Yip (the director), for respecting the audience and not belaboring the "message"-- for a movie that is basically a war/ nationalist melodrama, it manages to unfold as elegantly as Ip Man's character (& Donnie Yen's acting).

But for those who care about the "downside": this movie is only loosely "based on" Ip Man's life-- in that the earlier parts is a dramatization of various accounts, the middle section is highly exaggerated (1-to-1 vs many-to-1 sparring), and the end is completely fictional (read: lead to an end-fight). And as a "World War II side-story" about a simple people in a small place (Foshan, China), there are only a few lines of text and transitional scenes depicting the Japanese invasion/occupation of Foshan (the director didn't have the budget to show how Foshan lost 3/4 of its population)-- though it manages to be quite effective, especially for those already familiar with the history. But those craving more creativity, complexity or completeness in this movie will be disappointed-- especially by the rather haphazard way the movie "wraps up" Ip Man's life at the end (when it wasn't certain whether/how a sequel would be made).

Whatever the quibble, "Ip Man" heralds a break-though in realism for "grounded" martial arts/ Wushu movies; the way "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" heralded a break-through in surrealism for "floating" martial arts/Wuxia movies. It is clearly made for fans of Wing Chun and Kung Fu Movies-- and it makes no apologies for that (thank goodness for no "foreign" investors-- though it means that this movie is unlikely to get foreign distribution).

Reviewed by DICK STEEL 10 / 10

A Nutshell Review: Ip Man

I shall now proclaim unabashedly that I absolutely love this movie! It's been some time since we last saw a biopic on one of the Chinese's martial arts folk heroes, with Jet Li's Fearless being the last memorable one to hit the big screen. While Li lays claim to three of such roles in the iconic Wong Fei Hung (in the Tsui Hark movies), Fong Sai Yuk and Huo Yuan Jia in Fearless, after which he felt he had to hang up his martial arts roles because he thought that he had communicated all that he wanted about martial arts through these films. And thank goodness for Donnie Yen still being around to pick up from where the genre left off, and presenting a memorable role which he truly owned, with Ip Man being the first cinematic rendition of the Wing Chun martial arts grandmaster.

In this bio-pic, Ip Man, one of the earliest Wing Chun martial arts exponents credited to have propagated its popularity, gets portrayed as the best of the best in 1930s Fo Shan, China, where the bustling city has its own Martial Arts Street where countless of martial arts schools have set up shop to fuel the craze of kung fu training. With each new school, the master will pay their respects to Ip Man and to challenge him to a duel. Ip Man, an aristocrat who spends most of his quality time developing and perfecting his brand of martial arts, will take them on behind closed doors, so as not to damage his opponents' reputation nor embarrass them in public. His humility is his virtue, and his style is never violent or aggressive, which often gets assumed and mistaken for being effeminate, since Wing Chun after all was founded by a woman.

The bulk of the story gets set in the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war, and it's not all fight and no story. Witth this historical setting, at times it does seem that there is an air of familiarity with the type of stories told, with how the Japanese Imperial Army had made life really miserable for the Chinese, and how the Chinese being fragmented in spirit, fail to unite during dire straits. More often than note, martial arts become a unifying force, and this aspect of the narrative might seem to be a walk in the usual territory.

But with its array of charismatic supporting cast with the likes of Simon Yam as Ip Man's best friend and industrialist Quan, and Lam Ka Tung as a cop turned translator, there are little nicely put sub plots which seek to expand the air of respect that Ip Man commands amongst his community. The story by Edmond Wong did not demonize all the villains, often adding a dash of empathy and sympathy to the likes of the Japanese General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), a highly skilled exponent from the North called Zhao (Fan Siu Wong) as well as Lam's translator character who is deemed as a traitor for being in the service of the Japanese. Ip Man the family man also gets put under the spotlight, where his passion could sometimes leave him neglecting his wife and kid, and through the course of the story this focus often leaves one quite exasperated for his family's safety as he puts his countrymen above self and family when going up against the oppressive Japanese forces.

So what's the verdict on the action? Action junkies won't have to wait too long before watching Ip Man in action, and to Sammo Hung and Tony Leung Siu Hung's credit, they have intricately designed some of the most varied martial arts sequences in the movie, such as private fights in his home, a factory melee, a Japanese dojo battle as seen in the trailer, (which I know has actually sent some positive vibes amongst moviegoers, mouth agape at that incredible scene of Yen continuously beating down a karateka) being somewhat of a throwback and reminiscent of Bruce Lee in Fists of Fury, and a ringside duel amongst others. And it's not just Ip Man who gets in on the action, but specialized martial arts moves designed for the various practitioners as well. It's so difficult to name any particular one as a personal favorite, though I must add that you definitely won't feel short changed by the time the inevitable final battle comes rolling along and gets delivered with aplomb.

I'm no Wing Chun practitioner, but Donnie Yen has this marvelous calm and zen like approach with his Ip Man taking out his opponents quite effectively with the minimal of moves. Like Huo Yuan Jia, he doesn't deliver the killing blows to friendly opponents, but rather simulates the various hit points, which actually calls for some astonishing control of strength and precision. This approach will change of course as the opponents become anything but friendly. And unlike the usual martial arts stance of crouching low, here we see him standing tall and striking with such precision and efficiency, it's like poetry in motion with some astounding closed quarter combat utilizing plenty of upper limb strength.

With Wong Kar-wai at one point also declaring interest in making a Ip Man movie, I thought that this effort will be hard to beat, just like how Tsui Hark has crafted some of the more definitive movies in modern times about Wong Fei Hung and Jet Li benefiting from a major career boost, I'd say Ip Man just about cements Yen's reputation as a martial arts leading man, which I guess the cinematic world these days severely lacks. This has to go down in my books as one of my favorite movies of the year, and I'm already setting some money aside to get the best available edition of the DVD when it gets released. Highly recommended, so make a beeline for the box office now!

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