Thursday, January 27, 2011

Movie Review: Yip Man 2

Yesterday I went to check out this film.
I saw the first one when I was living in Singapore and it was an excellent movie.

This is a contiuation of where the first film leaves off, with Ip Man moving to Hong Kong and trying to promote Wing Chun there, encountering various obstacles along the way.


Overall, I felt this was a good effort, although not as good as the first movie.
The cinematics were good and really gave you a good sense of what it must have been like in post-war Hong Kong, with many displaced people from the mainland flooding in trying to find work and set up businesses.

In the first movie the main antagonist is the Japanese occupation army, and in this film it is the British colonial rule, embodied by a corrupt British Hong Kong police official and, to a lesser degree, an arrogant British boxing champion.

The fight choreography by Sammo Hung was brilliant, and preserved the essence of the various kung fu styles (as far as I can tell). Sammo's character, Sifu Hong, was also very well played, with a balance of hardline adversary and patriot. His death leads Ip Man to challenge the Britsh boxer to a duel in the ring. Donnie Yen seems very convincing in his movements, and combines a true fighting prowess with Ip Man's humility and classical Confucian education. I am sure the real Ip Man must have been quite an amazing person.

That fight is an interesting example of what might happen between a skilled wing chun master and a good, strong western boxer. I am sure it is based on a true event, since Ip Man is known to have beaten many kinds of fighters in Hong Kong challenge matches. I can't find any real historical precedent online, so if you know the story, kindly tell me what really happened. Darren Shahlavi as Twister is an intimidating anti-hero and he is really ripped and ferocious. He would not be fun in a real fight.

I recommend watching this film for its cultural and historial value, and to see wing chun portrayed correctly as an extremely effective fighting system. I personally know some wing chun masters who are among the best fighters I have ever met, so Ip Man defeating a larger stronger western boxer does not in any way seem unreal to me. It is also always nice to see martial arts portayed as a vehicle for personal development, rather than just a way of beating people up. Ip Man's closing speech that "...despite our differences, I hope people can all learn to respect each other..." is the same message about martial arts I would expect any real master to give.

Did you also see this film? What did you think? Let me know.

1 comment:

Giuliano said...

I have just finished watching Yip Man 2, and saw the other two great movies on Yip Man in the last two months. I've also read that Wong Kar Wai is planning for another movie on this terrific Wing Chun master, I'm looking forward to watching it.
I do agree with you about the final Yip Man's speech on dignity, that I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed his statement on respecting the opponents, in Yip Man 1. I wish everybody - not only martial artists - had this moral integrity as the highest priority in life.
All the Best,
Giuliano