Ip Man (2008)

Reviewed by: evirei
Date: 11/14/2011

A movie based on the biography of Bruce Lee's mentor, Yip Man. This is one of Donnie's neatest and best performances, in terms of acting and martial art performances.

I am amazed at how Donnie manage to replicate the moves so well, and am really please with the great story-telling, neat and beautiful martial art sequences and of course the beautiful cinematography. The colours and good editing also manages to keep the movie pase just so interesting.

Ip Man is really a new break through in modern martial art movies in comparison to the other famous martial art movies such as Wong Fei Hung or Fong Sai Yuk.

A definately make your heart pumping faster and have adrenaline rush

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 10/19/2011
Summary: Perfect alignment of talent, skill, and intelligence.

At certain times throughout the history of world cinema, there are films that spring from a perfect alignment of talent, skill, and intelligence. The production of Ip Man [2008] is one of these movies. Donnie Yen is at the top of his game alongside director Wilson Yip. Together they have turned out some remarkable martial arts films. Mix in some Sammo Hung action direction, and with this film you've got yourself just a smashing good time at the movies!

[en español]En ciertos momentos en la historia del mundo del cine, hay películas que nacen de una alineación perfecta de talento, habilidad e inteligencia. La producción de Ip Man [2008] es una de estas películas. Donnie Yen se encuentra en la parte superior de su juego junto al director Wilson Yip. Juntos han salido algunas películas notables de artes marciales. Agregue un poco de Sammo Hung dirección de la acción, y con esta película usted se tiene poco tiempo estupendo repartiendo golpes en el cine!

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 01/12/2011
Summary: Well done historical epic

“Ip Man” suits Donnie Yen’s not inconsiderable dramatic talents quite well with him portraying Ip Man as a serene martial arts master who would rather reason with a foe than fight with him but when pushed to the limit he can dispose quickly of those who won’t listen to reason. Yen is well cast as a strong silent type, reminding one (at least this one) of Gregory Peck, a mid-twentieth century archetype for that role. He is a hero who does the best he can under the most horrible circumstances with China occupied by the Japanese army, collaborators everywhere and most of his fellow citizens too cowed to do anything.

His family (concrete) and his honor (more abstract) are his most important concerns, the existential issues that he must face every day. He must decide each new morn once again to fight against the forces of evil that surround him but to do so in an effective and virtuous manner which allows him to both confront the sorrow and suffering around him but also to survive to continue the battle.

The action scenes are excellent with wire work well done and properly integrated into the flow of the fights. The scenes in which the towering General Miura takes on and defeats all comers are particularly brutal and, even though over the top, still come across as realistic because they fit so will with the overall narrative of the invincible Japanese and the brave but doomed Chinese. Gordon Lam almost steals the movie as the anguished collaborator who finally redeems himself and Simon Yam is excellent as the mill owner who only wants to stay in business and help his fellow Chinese.

The production designers did a great job in realizing a pre-war cotton mill and a believable town scene. The brutal battles in which the Chinese risk their lives against more fit and rested Japanese fighters—all for a bag of rice—show creative lighting design on a minimalist set.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: AV1979
Date: 10/28/2010
Summary: Yen's Career Defining Performance

Donnie Yen marks his name amongst the legends of Hong Kong cinema with his career defining performance of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man. Under the supervision of action choreographer Sammo Hung, Yen displays such speed and agility in his Wing Chun style during the nicely shot sparring scenes and the great battle against 10 Japanese black belts. Action aside, Yen also delivers a very well dramatic performance about a man who has gone from prosperity to poverty during World War II and his struggle to make ends meet.

It is clear from this film when Donnie Yen is truly the new legend of HK Action cinema.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 10/26/2010
Summary: Excellent kung fu film

Donnie Yen & Wilson Yip decide to have a go at a FEARLESS style kung fu film, and choose Wing Chun master Ip Man as the character to represent. Since Ip Man's life wasn't really that interesting they make up a story, or basically steal the plot(s) of Fist Of Fury/Fist Of Legend and Fearless and rearrange them a bit. We forgive them for this because the result is a great film.

Production values are excellent, script and dramatic performances commendable, and - arguably most importantly - action scenes are superlative. A highly satisfying end product.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 02/25/2010

Grand Master Ip Man might have went down in history as the most notable practitioner of Wing Chun wu shu -- trumping Yim Wing Chun herself for whom the style was named after -- had his most famous disciple not have been Bruce Lee.

Though "Ip Man" has nothing to do with Lee (save a reference in the film's epilogue) it really doesn't have anything to do with the real Ip Man, per se, either.

Screenwriters Edmond Wong and Chan Tai-li have re-imagined Ip as a stoic national in the vein of Wong Fei-hung who remains in his home town of Fushun during World War II and restores pride to the Chinese people in the face of totalitarian Japanese occupation.

In reality, Ip's chosen profession was law enforcement and while his chivalry is noteworthy as was his Wing Chun prowess, he [understandably] fled Fushun when the Japanese invaded and didn't return until after the war.

The end game of Wong and Chan's "Ip Man" script is a title match between Ip, portrayed by Donnie Yen (borrowing all the right stuff from his "Once Upon a Time in China II" co-star Jet Li) and a bullish Japanese general (Ikeuchi Hiroyuki).

Guess who wins and then must flee to Hong Kong?

Ironically, in real life Ip fled to Hong Kong from his own people in 1949 when communist forces entered Fushun.

Suffice to say, the reel story isn't the real story but when is it ever? And honestly, was the audience truly hoodwinked by these biographical adjustments?

As a film "Ip Man" is an easy, breezy biopic with impressive art direction and a fine performance by the ever maturing Yen who comes into perfect alignment with Sammo Hung and Tony Leung Siu-hung's nearly organic choreography.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 03/19/2009

With movies like SPL and Flashpoint, Donnie Yen has been on one hell of a roll lately, and that momentum continues with Ip Man, a biopic that retells the story of the man that would become Bruce Lee's sifu. Mixing dramatic scenes that actually bring some real emotion and some extremely solid fight sequences, Ip Man shows that the kung fu genre isn't quite dead yet.

Taking place in the city of Foshan, an area renowned for its' martial arts, Ip Man is a man who enjoys the respect of everyone in town after beating down Jin Shan (Fan Siu-Wong), an outsider who comes to Foshan to try and take over all of the schools. After the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, Man is captured and asked to throw a fight against the local commander (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) to quell the townspeoples' rising animosity.

Ip Man was a major hit in many areas in Asia, and garnered twelve Hong Kong Film Award nominations. But all that is not without a bit of controversy. Most biopics are a bit loose in the area of truth, but Ip Man takes things to another level. Most historical accounts point to the fact that Ip Man actually left Foshan during the war, so, of course, there was no training of an entire city by Ip Man, nor did he deal a major blow to the occupying Japanese by fighting them.

There's also some very obvious jingoistic undertones present here. You're not going to see anything like the "no dogs or Chinese" scene from Fist of Fury, but for the most part, the Japanese characters are treated fairly poorly. The commander is painted in a somewhat decent light, but he's surrounded by cronies that subscribe to every ugly stereotype, most notably a colonel whose mousy looks and sadistic attitude seem to be ripped straight from a 1970's film. Overall, it's nothing too terrible, but one would think that maybe Chinese film-makers could move on from having to depend on such broad caricatures in this day and age to get reactions from their audience.

Some note must be also made of the acting, which really goes all over the map. Many of the young actors present, especially Li Ze, who plays Ip Man's wife, subscribe to the over-the-top melodramatic school, and threaten to derail the movie at points. But thankfully, the veterans supply an anchor that makes the exposition scenes all that much more plausible, and actually moving in parts. Donnie Yen himself deserves a special nod, making what could have really been a cardboard cutout into a interesting character.

What really sets Ip Man ahead of the pack are its' fight sequences. Sammo Hung's work has been really up and down over the past several years, but this definitely fall towards the upper end of the spectrum. There's a great mix of wire-assisted acrobatics and grungy, fist-pounding, brutatilty that will satisfy both old and new fans of kung fu action. Sure, there's nothing here that's totally mind-blowing, but there's a good amount of moments that will make you jump a little bit out of your seat.

Yes, Ip Man does have its' flaws. If you're a nitpicky viewer or someone looking for a sweeping epic, then you might be disappointed here. But for those looking for a kung fu movie that delivers a bit of pathos along with the ass-kicking, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Ip Man. This isn't the greatest film ever made by any stretch of the imagination, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do, and manages to actually please the audience in the process.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/15/2009
Summary: The best movie ive seen in 2008

Donnie Yen for once acts seriously without the usually LOOK at me, im SSSOOOOOO COOL,i kick ass!! Im quite impressed from what i saw. I feel he is the only one in hong kong making decent action movies nowadays and this is no exception, in fact its better than the expectation.

A great story is helped with good fight scenes. i usually fast forward the boring bits of movies, but i never did it with this movie. It held my attention from beginning til end.

This movies Ip man character can easily be mirrored by Wong fei Hung. Ip man is a master of kung fu but never boosts about it, he's a man of pride and kindness.

A must watch, you wont be disappointed.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 01/01/2009
Summary: Donnie Yen's best performance to date

I totally loved the whole movie; from the first moment to the last you get the best of Wilson Yip's storytelling and usual production values (thanks to the contribution of his team) and of course combined with some of the best MA action (courtesy of Sammo Hung, who has now officially made his comeback as action director) you'll ever find today in Hong Kong.

But most importantly, one particular thing I found so interesting in the movie was the Ip Man portrayal. It made me realize what other martial arts biopics (such as ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series, FONG SAI YUK movies, and even FEARLESS) totally lacked, faked out, exaggerated on, standardized in, and carried out unjustifiably. Aside the huge irrelevance in the movie to the real events Yip man went through (I now agree that things are so exaggerated throughout the movie), the characterization was outstanding and set out to create real character in a role people know too much about nowadays. Yip Man is rather someone who is the total opposite of usually depicted kung fu masters who has all the typicalities that defines what they are; unstoppable, unbeatable, stern, almost cold in character, helpful and so on. Yip Man's different; he's calm, modest, gently, secretive, unwilling etc and is only driven to act certain ways if forced. It's time to give this kind of portrayal some recognition because no one has done anything like this before.

On top of what was said just now, Donnie's acting ability was too perfect for the portrayal and something of a fresh take on what he can do in front of the camera in general (finally he's done something about it) opposed to what he has done before (posing, acts like himself). I shall now declare that the movie is owned completely by Donnie Yen and that nobody else came close. The remaining cast were a good enough addition though but still not that good enough. Apart from Gordon Lam (who was the only other actor who gave a strong performance and enough dimension to actually care about his character), Hiroyuki Ikeuchi and Lynn Hung whom gave it their all which shows, I thought the rest came off either phony-looking (Louis Fan, Xing Yu, Wong You-Nam) or potentially appreciating but very underused (Simon Yam, Chen Zhi-Hui).

Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen delivers 100% awesomeness and has by far topped all their previous works (I still give FLASH POINT the higher credit when it comes to the action as no movie has topped it yet, not even this movie).

Reviewer Score: 9