Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster
Poor Ip Man (Donnie Yen). After all the trouble he had back in Foshan, all he wants to do, is to set up a Wing Chun school in Canton, so that he could provide for his pregnant wife, Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung), and his child. But to do think that he is able to do that? Like Fung he can! Instead, all he can seem to do is fight!
He fights punks at his school so he can get some pupils. He fights other punks on the streets to defend his pupils. Plus on top of that, following a run in with the law, he is forced to fight some Chinese masters to earn the right to run his school as well.
Pretty gruelling way of making a living, don't you think. Well, according to asthmatic Hung Ga master, Hung Chun-nam (Sammo Hung), it is. Especially when he has to ask Ip Man and his fellow masters for money, so that they can pay tribune to a corrupt British Elite ruling this province. Moreover, Ip Man thinks likewise, because once he has been accepted as a master in his own right, his school is forced to reallocate, due to a skirmish that his pupils have been involved with also.
Still, that's what happens, and that's what they all have to live with. Or do they?
You see, as times passes, and respect gestates amongst the martial arts schools, the British Forces decide to host a Boxing tournament within this lo-cal, just to demonstrate their skills in boxing, whilst the Chinese contingent does likewise. However, once this exhibition is in full swing, a grandstanding English Boxer named Twister (Darren Shahlavi), disrespects the Chinese martial artists in attendance, prompting Hung to retaliate in kind.
Ooops! Bad idea.
Regrettably, Hung and the Chinese people suffer greatly for his retaliation, causing suffering and heart ache for all involved.
Well, I suppose that is why what next transpires really kicks off when Ip Man enters the ring. As fighters are checked - boxers are decked - punches are necked - and at the end of the day it is all about respect.
In the aftermath of these events, a young kid called Bruce asks Ip Man for lessons in Wing Chun. But this cocky little child is too young at the moment - maybe later.
Off the bat, I just want to say that I really liked watching 'Ip Man 2'. It is great film all in all, full of what its predecessor had on offer, whilst spinning a nice new yarn in the process. Look at the facts: (1) Donnie Yuen is a classically trained pianist, and was initially called 'Michael Ryan' in his earlier film roles. (2) Screenwriter, Edmond Wong, stated that this film isn't about survival as the first film was [click here for review], it is about living instead. Moreover, this movie also deals with how the people of Hong Kong were treated under British colonial rule, as well as highlighting Western attitudes where martial art was concerned. (3) Martial arts choreographer / actor, Sammo Hung, undergone major cardiac surgery prior to filming, yet he still managed to perform him own stunts. (4) Donnie is a big Bruce Lee fan, and was supposed to co-star with his son, Brandon, in the sequel to 'Long zai jiang hu', before
died whilst this project was manifesting. (5) The Chinese title of this film translates
into 'Ip Man 2: Legend of a Grandmaster'. This title is a play on the first
film's working title, which was 'Grandmaster Ip Man'. (6) Sammo was
dissatisfied by his own performance and the challenges he set for Donnie in
this film, and he has publicly stated that he plans on doing better next
time. (7) George Lucas originally wanted
Sammo to be the lightsaber fight choreographer for the Star Wars prequels. (8) Huang
Xiaoming learnt Wing Chun in his hotel room during filming. He's still got the
bruises to prove it. (9) Donnie turned down parts in the films 'The Legend
of Drunken Master', 'Rush Hour 2', 'The
Cradle of Life', 'The Forbidden Kingdom', 'The Mummy 2', and 'The Expendables
2'. And (10) The true story of how Ip Man first met Bruce Lee begun when Bruce's actor Dad, Lee Hoi-chuen, bumped into Ip whilst he was having an argument with the Grandfather of Hong Kong movie producer, Run Run Shaw. This elderly gentleman was called 'The Butcher', and he was depicted by Sammo Hung in the film 'The Magnificent Butcher'. Also, he was the progeny of legendary Hung Gar master, Wong Fei-Hung, as depicted by Jet Lee in the film 'Once Upon a Time in America' (click on here for review). This film does not follow this story though. Brandon
Now you can do me a favour please? Can you take note of point 6 for a moment - Sammo was dissatisfied with the action in 'Ip Man 2'. My God! Sammo must be a real perfectionist I can tell you! Because I thought the action on this film was just great! Honestly, the way that all the guys just whizzed around the screen like John Travolta on speed - it was blooming amazing. The rapid fire punched - the grandiose cinematography - the timely ambience - and the personality of it all - it was a really nice treat to watch.
Granted, in places, I did find that certain segments of this film did feel a little bit neglected and left by the wayside. For example, Ip Mans wife, and how his own 'personal life' impeded his 'action life'. Still, this is only a little gripe within the scheme of things. And overall this is a movie that I would highly recommend to anyone who likes a dynamic and dramatic Kung Fu yarn.
In addition to this, in someway this flick was also like a story of two-halves as well. Conceptually, the first-half acts as an introductory chapter of Ip's new life in Canton - with him trying to set up a new school at this lo-cal. Whereas the second-half acts as a Rocky type morality tale of sorts - highlighting that respect and honor can mean more at times than kicks and punches.
OK, as you most probably gathered by now, I just love this movie. As it goes to show that both Sammo and Donnie can really act as well as fight. Well, there were certain scenes in this film in which I truly forgot that these two men where the movie stars that they are. They just seemed to inhabit their respective roles to such a degree, that Donnie was Ip and Sammo was... errr... Hung.
THE RATING: A