Friday, February 17, 2012

Too IP to be Square

Ip Man (2008)
Yip Man (original title)

currently #232 on the new list
From IMDb

A semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun.

Ip Man is a Chinese film starring Donnie Yen and directed by Wilson Yip.  I watched the film in it's native Chinese with English subtitles.

Ever since I was a child watching the Karate Kid, I have had a love for martial arts films.  In fact one of the first DVDs I ever purchased was Legend of the Drunken Master.  So when deciding what film to start my mini-marathon with, I wanted to choose something that I knew had a high probability of at least entertaining me for the couple hours it played.  Ip Man delivered.

The first act of the film feels as if it could have starred Jackie Chan, filled with moments such as Ip Man fighting another master with a bamboo feather duster.  It is light-hearted and was very remniscent of films like the Legend of the Drunken Master.  But as the film moves into the second act it takes on a darker tone.  This is marked with the Japanese invasion and occupation of China in the 1930's.  Ip Man falls from his prestigious position in society to a level where he must scratch together a living for him and his family doing whatever jobs are available.

Ip Man connected on all levels with me.  The fight choreography was fantastic and was grounded in reality (as much as martial arts movies ever are) unlike films such as Croaching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  The story was powerful and heartfelt which is all the more impressive since I discovered at the conclusion of the film that it is based on a true story.  How historically accurate it is, I am unsure but it still adds something to the film.  The performances were exceptional especially compared to other films in the genre.  Donnie Yen and notably Lynn Hung, who plays Ip Man's wife, were quite well done.

If you you are a fan of the martial arts genre of films, or are just a fan of action movies in general, stop what you are doing now and go watch this film.  You'll thank me later.

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