One of the most astonishing displays of martial arts action on film in recent years, Wilson Yip's Ip Man
chronicles the life of the eponymous Wing Chun master (Donnie Yen), who would later become instructor and mentor to Bruce Lee. Fans of Ronny Yu's Fearless
, with Jet Li, will notice several similarities between the biopics--like Li's Huo Yuanjia, Ip Man is a tireless instructor whose life, largely consisting of training and jaw-dropping spar sessions with any and all, is thrown into chaos with the arrival of Japanese military forces in 1937. He soon draws the interest of the commanding Japanese colonel (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), who exploits the starving locals by forcing them against his trainees for bags of rice. Ip must then pit his extraordinary Wing Chun against the colonel's karate for his own dignity, as well as the soul of his people.
Were Yip's film simply a series of set pieces featuring Yen's incredible fighting skills, Ip Man would rank among the best martial arts films of the past three decades; the fight choreography, by Hong Kong legend Sammo Hung and Tony Leung Siu-hung (with consultation by Ip's own son, Ip Chun), offers the same sort of eye-popping, rewind-required fist and footwork that Ip's disciple, Bruce Lee, inspired in the '70s, and Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Tony Jaa displayed in subsequent years; a battle between Ip and 10 black belts, in particular, requires multiple views to absorb the speed and deftness on display. But Ip Man also succeeds as a historical drama inspired by the harsh realities of the Japanese occupation of mainland China, as well as an acting showcase for Yen, who embodies Ip's formidable physical and emotional strengths.. --Paul Gaita
Ip Man is an award winning adaptation based on the life of Ip Man (Donnie Yen), the grandmaster of Wing Chun and later teacher and mentor to widely influential and legendary martial artist, Bruce Lee. Ip Man is set in the 1930s in Foshan, a hub of southern Chinese martial arts just as the Second Sino-Japan war breaks out. During the war, China is nearly ripped to pieces by racial hatred, nationalistic strife and warfare. Ip Man rose like a phoenix above these ashes as he defied an empire bringing hope to China. Winner of Best Picture and Actor, Ip Man ranks as one of the best martial arts movies of all time!