Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ip Man movie review

I saw Ip Man starring Donnie Yen a few months ago and I have been meaning to comment on it since it is a wing chun movie. Overall, it's a great kungfu movie, with fun fight scenes, reasonable plot and good acting. I would even say it's about the best modern kungfu movie I have seen in a while if you don't count the comedies Shaolin Soccer and Kungfu Hustle by Stephen Chow.

As far as the "wing chun" choreography goes, I would say they did about as good a job as you could do. For the most part it looks something like wing chun with a lot of movie poetic license as you would expect. I also give them points for keeping wire work to a minimum and resisting the urge to make the wing chun more flashy. Donnie Yen does a great job and I really enjoyed the humble character of his Yip Man. Here is my favorite fight scene from the movie. I think the actor who plays the country bumpkin villain is great and has great intensity.

On the negative side, I have to say I don't really understand the point of taking a real person like Yip Man or Bruce Lee and simply making a fantastic plot around them that has nothing to do with reality. There really isn't any reason to do that other than cash in on their fame. I also get tired of the evil Japanese with their inferior karate that is so prevalent in kungfu movies. I guess the real life history of people who teach kungfu is of little interest to anyone but kungfu nerds. Myself, I would just prefer that they make kungfu movies with fictional characters. I suppose that the easiest way to ruin a movie is to be too close to the subject.


  1. Sorry to keep being the main nerd who's responding to your posts!

    However, I have to say partly for the reason you stated above about the treatment of Japanese villains in kungfu movies, Jet Li's "Fearless" is definitely way up there on my favorite kungfu movies list. If I were to ever compile such a thing, others would be 'Matrix 1', 'Drunken Master', 'Project A Part 2' and 'The Prodigal Son' - a Wing Chun movie which is about Leung Ye Tai and Leung Jon. I digress...

    Anyway, there was a pretty damn cool, very old-school honorable Japanese opponent in "Fearless" whose striking and swordsmanship are artfully depicted.

    I also liked the fact that the revenge-based plot is subverted - again directly against the convention in kungfu movies.

    As for Ip Man, pretty much agree with everything you said. I thought the final fight sequence sucked (particularly in comparison with "Fearless", which ended in a very similar way). The villainization of the guy he fought at the end just didn't make any sense. That dude killed Ip Man's friend because Ip Man's friend tried to kill him - like a dumb-ass - after being repeatedly warned.

    Oh, and for a skinny woman, I found Ip Man's wife strangely alluring!

    I now enter my self-nomination for nerd of the century...

  2. Sorry? Don't be sorry. I appreciate the comments. Maybe you are the only one reading this thing.

    I haven't seen Prodigal Son. I will watch it and see what I think. What the hell is Project A Part 2? Will have to look that one up.

    I can't think of any great fighting movies right now, but I think the most realistic fight I have seen in a Movie is Bruce Willis kicking ass in 12 Monkeys. Love that scene.

  3. Prodigal son was more watchable than most kung fu movies. We've all seen the Wing Chun movie with Michelle Kwan/Yeoh, haven't we? I haven't seen it in about ten years, but it was a hell of a lot better than the Ip Man movie.

  4. I still haven't seen it...I will try to find it.

  5. Agreed about the ending fight. Behind-the-scenes with Sammo Hung (the fight choreographer) revealed that the Japanese actor playing the general had never done a fight scene before, and his inexperience showed through in the length of shot and the first-person camera angle they used to try to hide it... The Northern dude fight scene is def the best in the movie and something similar should have been done for the final climactic battle... Oh well, it was a good movie nonetheless.

    Damn... forgot about Fearless. Gotta watch that.

  6. Yeah, I heard that about the Japanese actor. I also like the northern dude fight scene...he stole the show.