IP Man (AKA Yip Man) [Blu Ray]: partial-biogaphy of grandmaster martial artist Yip Man, as he fights to protect his town through the Japanese invasion of 1937. This is a jaw-dropping homage to the old martial arts films; choreography, subtle wire work, sound effects and filming of the action. This all peaks during a 1-on-10 fight indoors, which is action-tastic, bone-snappingly brutal and phenomenal to watch. Storywise, the film starts off amazingly with random schools of martial artist groups challenging each other to fights, but as soon as the war / Chinese history kicks in it slows the film down to a crawl. Annoyingly, there’s random leaps forward in time about every ten minutes; is it a week, month or year… we don’t know. Outdoors the BD picture great, but inside it’s very grainy – and the entire second half (invasion) looks depressingly washed-out and devoid of any colour. Films that handle the Sino–Japanese war have a tough job, and IP man succeeded nationally (although falls down internationally) in doing this; because it’s over-sentimental – but you can’t hold that against such a nationally proud, historical piece. Overall, IP Man starts with a massive bang, but the entire second half becomes a bit of a struggle, although the great action will keep you in your seat.
Really nice review. I agree completely. Although I’d give it a higher rating than you did. One of the best martial arts movies produced in many years. Unfortunately, I found the sequel to not be nearly as good as the first. But that’s the way it usually is.
I think Flashpoint would hold the title of PFR’s best martial arts films – just far too many brilliant fight scenes to mention. https://paragraphfilmreviews.com/2009/07/13/flashpoint/
Haven’t seen IP Man 2 yet, it’s in the collection, but I’ll give it a while after this.
You know, I don’t disagree at all about the story being somewhat sluggish, but that’s more or less true of all martial arts films– save for the very, very best of them. In films like this the story just exists as an excuse to stage awesome fight scenes, so I think martial arts films (today at least) live or die based on how well they match up to these criteria:
1) The fight scenes have to be outstanding.
2) The stuff in between the fight scenes has to be tolerable.
At points Ip Man is above average, but I agree that overall the story isn’t the real draw here. Donnie Yen’s flailing fists of fury are what you’re checking this out for.
I love watching Yenn do action, and although he can act well (compared to his European/Hollywood action counterparts), you really just want to see him launch people into objects. Too much talk, and not quite enough rock, but as a historic piece, I can see why they did it this way.