Starring: Donnie Yen, Xiaoming Huang and Lynn Xiong
Directed by: Wilson Yip
Ip Man finds himself in Hong Kong after leaving his hometown of Foshun. He tries to set up his own martial arts school so he can teach the art of Wing Chun. He faces opposition from other Masters in the area before having to face another foreign threat in the shape of British boxing champion ‘Twister’.
Back in October I watched the first Ip Man movie and was blown away by how great it was. The story was excellent and the martial arts on display were some of the best I have ever seen in a martial arts movie as Donnie Yen excels and showcases his amazing talents. Yen once again returns as the legendary Wing Chun master, Ip Man, and the story continues where the first movie left off as Ip Man and his family flee Foshun and settle in Hong Kong where he tries to open up a martial arts school so he can teach the Wing Chun style that he’s known for back in his hometown. His school starts off considerably slow and with the disapproval from other Masters in the region Ip Man must fight his corner to earn their respect and be allowed to teach whoever wants to learn. While Ip Man is bashing heads with Master Hung, a western boxing champion that goes by the name of Twister arrives in town and after disrespecting Chinese traditions it’s up to Ip Man to restore the honour and status of the ancient teachings as a clash of styles come to a head as he competes against the foreign fighter.
Once again I was blown away by the performance of Donnie Yen as he replicated the quality of his performance from the first movie. He showcases some of the best martial arts skills I’ve ever seen on the big screen and everything is so well choreographed, especially the mass brawl at the fish market which was organised chaos. There were so many great fighting sequences that I could probably talk about each and every scene in a positive way but I will instead just summarise and say that Ip Man 2 does a tremendous job at making the fighting look both realistic and dramatic. I really enjoy Ip Man’s humble life story away from martial arts as he finds himself struggling to provide for his pregnant wife and young son but never lets himself get stressed as he remains in a tranquil state throughout. As well as being an exceptional martial artist he was also a good natured human being who saw the best in people and would always attempt to reason with somebody without the use of violence despite possessing incredible skills. I also liked that the movie touched upon Ip Mans most famous student, Bruce Lee, as right at the end a young and eager Bruce seeks his future master.
While Ip Man 2 was a great sequel to an incredible first movie, which isn’t always easy to continue that kind of momentum, there were a few minor things that did detract from the movie’s overall quality. One of the flaws in this film was that the story was very similar to the first as it very much followed the same kind of pattern. While this isn’t a particularly huge issue it was still a minor one as it felt like I was watching the same film just with different actors. Both movies have Ip Man trying to provide for his family by teaching Wing Chun and both movies end with the death of somebody that Ip Man respects and Ip Man avenging said death by defeating a foreign threat. In the first movie the foreign threat came in the shape of Japanese invaders and here it was a British Boxing champion. While not exactly the same story, the two movies did follow a very similar pattern. My final problem with the film as a whole was the casting of the westerners/Brits was awful as most of them were dreadful actors and really looked and sounded awkward as they delivered their lines. The worst offender was Darren Shahlavi who played boxing champion Twister, he was nothing short of atrocious and while he only really featured heavily towards the end of the movie, he did take away a small fraction of enjoyment from the final third as his acting just sucked, there’s no other word for his performance than that.
Overall, Ip Man 2 was a great sequel to one of my favourite movies of the year. I had high expectations going into this film and it almost met each and every one of them.