Stars: Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Darren Shahlavi, Huang Xiaming | Action direction by Sammo Hung | Directed by Wilson Yip
Review by Baron Fortnightly
Ip Man 2, from Cine Asia, is a semi-biographical martial arts film loosely based on the life of Wing Chun grandmaster, Ip Man. The film was directed by Wilson Yip and Sammo Hung, produced by Raymond Wong, written by Edmond Wong, and stars martial arts legend, Donnie Yen, who reprises the leading role.
This sequel continues on from events in the first Ip Man film, and covers Ip Man’s life in Hong Kong, which was at the time under British colonial rule, and recovering from the Japanese invasion of China. Ip Man’s main hurdles are his reduced circumstances, British oppression, and rivalry from other martial arts practitioners, including the local Hung Ga master Hung Chun-nam, as played by Sammo Hung.
“Continuing from where the first film ended, Ip Man and his family move to Hong Kong in the early 1950s after their escape from Foshan. There, Ip desires to open a school to propagate his art, as well as to make his living, but he has difficulty attracting students due to his lack of reputation in the city. One day, a young man named Wong Leung appears and promptly challenges Ip to a fight, but is easily defeated. Wong leaves humiliated, only to return with some friends to gang up on him. Ip beats them as well. Stunned and impressed by his skills, Wong and his friends become Ip’s first students, bringing more disciples to help the school thrive.”
Fan Siu-wong returns from the first film as former bandit Jin Shazhao, as does Simon Yam, Lynn Hung as Ip Man’s wife, Cheung Wing-sing, and Li Chak as Ip Man’s first son, Ip Chun. They are joined by the excellent and less intense but still ‘Bruce Lee like’ Huang Xiaming as Ip’s first student Wong Leung, Kent Cheng as Fatso, Lo Mang as Monkey Kung Fu Master Law, Fung Hak as Baguazhang Master Cheng, Lam Hak-ming as Master Lam, and Charles Mayer as, an over the top and unintendly comical, corrupt police superintendent Wallace, who is the face of British oppression in this film.
Ip Man 2 is one of the best martial arts films I’ve seen in recent years, and it’s HK$43 million domestic gross made it one of the highest grossing Hong Kong films released in 2010. The film is packed with excellent fight scenes, including one in a fish market, where everything becomes a weapon, and one that takes place upon a table in a restaurant against three martial art masters, each practicing a different style. Donnie Yen’s final fight scene is against western boxer, Taylor “The Twister” Milos (“Now THAT is POWER!”), played by Stockport, Greater Manchester actor Darren Shahlavi.
Originally Ip Man 2 was going to be about Ip Man’s relationship with the famous Bruce Lee, but the producers were unable to get permission from his family, so the only time you see Bruce Lee is as a young boy who Ip Man tells to come back when he is older to learn Wing Chun.
Cine Asia have done a great job with this DVD, a two disc set – one for the movie, which includes Cantonese 2.1, and 5.1 language options, with subtitles in a number of languages, and an audio commentary by Hong Kong cinema expert, Bey Logan. Logan is as usual a walking wiki of Hong Kong cinema, and is full of information about the film, Ip Man, his students, filming locations, Darren Shahlavi, and Hong Kong cinema in general. Rounding out disc one are a few deleted scenes, a trailer, a making of documentary and behind the scenes looks at four fight scenes from the movie.
Disc two is full of extras including subtitled interviews with the actors, and three amazing Cine Asia documentaries about Wing Chun, which run for 30 minutes each and feature actor and Wing Chun practitioner Phil Morris, Marie Sia Lonero of the Inosanto Academy, and martial arts director Jeff Imada. These documentaries are well worth a view, especially the demonstrations by Phil Morris and Paul Watkins.
What we have here is the Hong Kong version of Rocky 4, and it’s amazing. Not quite as good as Ip Man, but a lot more believable than The Legend is Born: Ip Man. This film is definitely worth multiple views for both martial artists and casual fans. Double thumbs up!