1932 – Foshan – and Ip man (Donnie Yen) is a very wealthily man who has it all. He has a beautiful wife and a beautiful child. He is a master in the southern style of martial arts called Wing Chun. And he lives in a very expensive house at the hub of a kung-fu epicenter.
Please note, because Ip Man is independently wealthy, he does not have the need to accept any students to teach his craft to. Instead, he spends most of his days training his body and his mind, whilst meeting up with friends and family.
However, one damp day in particular, a bunch of rouge northern practitioners comes into town and beats up every master in the area. So what does Ip Man do in turn? Correct, he kicks ass, Wing Chun style.
1934 – Foshan – and I am sorry to say that Ip man is a very poor man who has lost it all. He has had to leave his big house and wealth behind him. He and his wife and child are now living destitute upon the city streets. Plus on top of that, he has to take a job shoveling coal, so that he can provide for his family.
But why this sudden change of change of circumstances, you may ask yourself. Well, the Japanese have invaded this province - that's why - causing a lot of heart-ache and misery for all concerned.
However, one day, when Ip Man is at work, he hears the news that the Japanese army will offer a bag of rice to whoever is willing to spar with their forces. So what does he do? No - he declines this offer - but an old friend of his accepts it instead, and is then taken off to do battle.
Now the very next day when the Japanese army return and pose this exact same offer again, guess what Ip man's answer is this time? No - he accepts it - and with this reply, his world suddenly turns up side down.
For example, Ip man fights ten Japanese practitioners when he is taken into combat, due to the way that they have mistreated his fellow countrymen. Then he has to aide a friend of his who owns a cotton mill, because he and his staff are being attacked by the same men he fought back in 1932. After that, Japanese forces hound Ip Man's every move, as the Japanese General wants to fight him in combat. And finally, Ip Man and his family seek some sanctuary, just for a bit of respite.
Still, this is Ip man, right? He cannot hide for too long. Which I suppose is why what next transpires is a very uplifting affair all in all. As Generals fight - Chinese bite - saviors run free - and one day Ip man will get to teach someone called Bruce Lee.
Hong Kong or bust!
In my most humble opinion, I found 'Ip man' to be a really charming and great film to watch. The action was fast-paced and dynamic – the story was evenly told – the performances were all round perfect – the sets were beautiful decorated – and is was spoken in Cantonese too. So if your not one to read while you watch... then... tough sh*t.
Personally speaking, I found that in this type of a film, the actions actually spoke louder than the words! Well, the fighting sequences really do tell a story you know. Not only that though, but all the actors seem to inhibit their roles, making this film a really nice slice of yesteryear.
Moreover, if I did have a bone of contention to pick with this film, I’d have to say that being a bit of an IP Man buff myself, I know that a lot on display is more dramatized than truth. It’s as if the writer, Edmond Wong, has taken pieces out of Ip’s real life, and then overlaid a dramatic overtone upon it. Here, look at the facts: (1) Ip was never forced to work due to the Sino-Japanese war. (2) Ip was like a policemen during these times and for several year after, and he was never a coolie. (3) Ip was driven out of Foshan by the Communists and not by the Japanese Army. (4) Ip's mansion in this movie is not an accurate depiction of the original. (5) Ip never fought a Japanese General. And (6) Yuen Kay San was portrayed as Ip Man’s younger Kung Fu brother, and not as skill-full as he was. This is not true.
In fact, one of the only truisms about this film, is that during the war, Ip Man did refuse to teach his martial arts to the military police of the occupying Japanese. So thats something, right?
Though, in a funny way, this type of 'dramatization' was the same thing that Bruce Lee did in the film 'Fists of Fury', because he took some notable events out of a great mans life, and then made up the rest as he went along. Also, another thing which 'Ip Man' has in common with certain Bruce Lee film’s, are certain characters and instances. For example: (1) There is an interpreter in 'Way of The Dragon' and 'Fist of Fury' - as there is in Ip Man. (2) There is also a dojo fight scene in 'Fist of Fury' - as there is in Ip Man. (3) There’s a notable disdain to Japanese forces in 'Fist of Fury' - as there is in... Mary Poppins [I mean Ip man]. And (4) There is an underdog message routed between this film and all of Bruce’s.
Please note, all of what I have just said is just an observation and not a judgement by any stretch of the imagination. As all in all IP man is a film which is operatic in nature – pleasing to the eye – and overall a ‘must see’ film for anyone who likes either Bruce Lee, Martial Arts, or period dramatizations.
'Ip Man' is a good film because because it tells a story in both and action and word. Wouldn't you agree, Ip fact's?"
THE RATING: A