Donnie Yen continues to exert his status as the magnetic and skilled star on the international martial arts cinema scene in Ip Man 2
, the sequel to his blockbuster 2008 biopic of the iconic Wing Chun grandmaster. The film, also directed by Wilson Yip, picks up where its predecessor left off, with Ip Man (Yen) and his family relocating from China to Hong Kong in the early 1950s. There, he attempts to establish a Wing Chun school, but is challenged at every turn by potential students like Wong Leung (Huang Xiaoming), who later became one of Ip's greatest disciples, and other schools, including a Hung Ga school led by Hung Chun-nam (the legendary Sammo Hung, who also serves as the film's martial arts choreographer). Ip's astonishing skills help him to defend his school's honor, but in order to truly establish roots in Hong Kong, he is forced to participate in a city-wide boxing competition, where he faces a variety of styles and competitors, including an unscrupulous British fighter (Darren Shahlavi). Fans of the original Ip Man
may be disappointed by the scope of the sequel, which focuses more on fighting and less on the political and societal tensions that gave its predecessor an emotional gravitas. But for those who simply want to see Yen unleash his seemingly supernatural talents, Ip Man 2
consistently delivers, and ups the ante by including such cult figures as Shahlavi, Louis Fan Siu-Wong (Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
), and Shaw Brothers veteran Lo Mang (Five Deadly Venoms
) among its cast members. And for those hoping to finally see the connection between Ip and his most famous disciple, Bruce Lee, the film's coda gives a brief glimpse of their momentous first meeting.
The two-disc Collector's Edition set includes an 18-minute making-of featurette that includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew; all major participants are also featured in a sizable gallery of individual interviews that range from brief chats to 30-minute conversations. A quarter of the deleted scenes offer a few extra minutes of fighting trimmed from the theatrical release, while a trio of trailers and a lightweight shooting diary round out the supplemental features. Sadly, genre expert Bey Logan's commentary, which appears on the UK version of the disc, is not included here. --Paul Gaita