During the Japanese invasion of 1937, when a wealthy martial artist is forced to leave his home and work to support his family, he reluctantly agrees to train others in the art of Wing Chun for self-defense.
In postwar Hong Kong, legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man is reluctantly called into action once more, when what begin as simple challenges from rival kung fu styles soon draw him into ... See full summary »
Anthony Chau-Sang Wong,
In 1935 in Foshan, south China, there are martial arts schools on every street corner. Ip Man is the undisputed martial arts champion, yet he has not devoted himself to teaching. Despite this, it seems that all the kung fu masters of the city are eager to fight him to improve their reputation.Written by
Although this was the first film centering around Yip Man, the idea of doing a Yip Man biopic had been conceived for as long as thirty years. Donnie Yen was actually slated to play Yip Man in the supposed first biopic that was about to go into production in 1997. The film would have also featured Stephen Chow playing an adult Bruce Lee. However, only one day of shooting took place before the project was canceled. See more »
When Ip Man gives Yuan the box that his dead brother cherished and walks away (towards the camera), near the end of the shot, Yuan is seen to open the box. On the next cut-scene, the box is closed and he is seen to open it again. See more »
[after witnessing Ip Man single-handedly defeat ten Japanese fighters at once]
What's your name?
I'm just a Chinese man.
See more »
Excellent direction, photography and set design enliven this account of Wing Chun instructor Yip Man's life before he moved to Hong Kong. Every Wing Chun instructor today tries to make a lineage connection to Yip Man to legitimize their teaching so he is a very important figure in Kung Fu. Donnie Yen portrays the master with intense reserve and is possibly the best acting in his career. It surprised me for sure.
The story line of this film is invented as historical accounts show Yip Man to have been a police officer in the time frame this film covers, not staying at home and only practicing kung fu as depicted here. Also the film claims that he refused to teach anybody but that is also not true. He left for Hong Kong a few years after WW2 not in the middle of it as this film presents. The plot with the Japanese army seems invented although they did ask him to teach the troops which he refused.
However the film muddies up the historical record, that is not to say it isn't a great film. Sammo Hung's choreography is exceptional and a throwback to his great kung fu films of the early 1980's. The martial arts are done with great respect to traditional styles although some wire work is used to assist the actors with the difficult acrobatic moves. No flying across the room in this film.
Although the ending is a little abrupt, this is one kung fu film that can be recommended to people who don't like these films. Highly recommended.
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