Director: Wilson Yip
Running time: 106 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
Genre: Action/Biography/Drama/Martial Arts
UK Release date: 2nd October 2009
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 9th July 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This martial arts film tells the story of the life of Ip Man, the Chinese martial arts master who was an inspiration to, amongst others, Bruce Lee. A beautifully made film with some really excellent martial arts on show. The film concentrates on the years up to and including the Japanese occupation of China in the late 1930’s.
Ip Man is a master of the art of Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu that was not generally accepted at the time. He practiced constantly and occasionally had duels with other masters. His wife disapproved of this and thinks he should spend more time with his son. He was quite well off and did not find it necessary to work for a living, but he is well respected for his talent amongst the townsfolk. When the Japanese invade they are thrown out of their comfortable home and forced to live in poverty. Having sold most of their possessions, Ip Man decides he must find a job. He works at a yard tipping coal and many of his friends find themselves there too. A Japanese General, Miura, is a fan of martial arts and wants to see if any of the Chinese masters can beat his Japanese trained fighters. Some volunteer to fight, including a friend of Ip Man. When his friend doesn’t come back, Ip Man volunteers the next time. He defeats ten opponents and the General is impressed and he challenges Ip Man to a duel. Will he accept? Well, I’ll leave you hanging there so as not to give away too much.
I love the way this film is shot, beautifully colourful at the beginning and then very muted and grey once the Japanese arrive in the scene. Great performances all round, particularly from Donnie Yen as Ip Man and Simon Yam as Zhou Qing Quan. Although it’s quite hard to judge a performance in a foreign language.
The fighting scenes are all spectacular. Beautifully choreographed and expertly performed. I did find the plot a little contrived, but quite easy to follow and I even found a few glimmers of humour here and there. Over all, a pretty good watch that’s great to look at with some excellent fight scenes, oh, and the music isn’t too bad either… Recommended.
My Score: 7.5/10