When it’s over, there’s nothing like a well-made kung fu film to help me re-appreciate the beauty and the beast of Chinese martial arts – the karma of the art form and the use of the form as a weapon. This semi-biographical film stars Donnie Yen as Ip Man (also spelled as Yip Man), a martial arts master who taught the art of Wing Chung. The film focuses on Ip’s life during the 1930s to 1940s during the Second Sino-Japanese War, when the Japanese occupied Ip’s hometown of Foshang, Guangdong. I didn’t expect much going into the film, except to see Donnie Yen in action. Surprisingly, the story was engaging, the action was believable, the martial arts were well choreographed, and there were no cheesy one-liners to make my eyes roll. This film reminded me a lot of Jet Li’s Fist of Legend, which remains to be one of my favourites in style, story, and choreography. Plus, what I really found refreshing was not having to sit through a whole bunch of CGI effects or characters flying through the air. Don’t get me wrong, I love CGI and flying acrobatics and some great martial arts films have been made using these techniques such as House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ip Man offered a welcomed change of pace, and it had a good story to tell, even if the story’s been embellished for dramatic effect on the big screen. Just a bit of trivia: Ip Man was Bruce Lee's mentor and teacher.
My rating: 4 out of 5