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,
A martial arts instructor from the police force gets imprisoned after killing a man by accident. But when a vicious killer starts targeting martial arts masters, the instructor offers to help the police in return for his freedom.
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
As mentioned in the film, Ip Man's fighting style is Wing Chun. It is said to be created by two women, Ng Mui and Yim Wing Chun. According to legend, a warlord wanted to marry Yim Wing Chun, but she refused and instead challenged him to a duel. She came across Ng Mui, a Buddhist nun whom she asked for help. Together they created the art of Wing Chun, which the nun named after Yim Wing Chun. Wing Chun won the fight. See more »
Although the movie takes place in the 1930s, in the factory showdown with Ip Man, Jin Shanzhao is shown wearing modern-day jungle boots of the sort worn by today's soldiers, especially visible when Ip Man slams his foot with his long staff. See more »
Captain Lei Chiu:
Why am I a traitor? Their deaths have got nothing to do with me. I'm just an interpreter. I need to scrape a living too!
Scrape a living? You watch your countrymen get beaten to death. Where's your dignity?
Captain Lei Chiu:
I don't have any. You do. You have lots of it. If you have the guts, go beat them! Beat as many as you can! I'm an interpreter, not a traitor...
[throws book to the ground and shouts in Japanese]
Captain Lei Chiu:
I'm 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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