Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ip Man 2 (Wilson Yip)

Training for a boxer.

The first Ip Man film's extreme sentimentality and some added weight of cliche were very tolerable as the story was very compelling anyway. Ip Man 2 started with the same promise of a great narrative (backed by a wonderful recreation of 1950's Hong Kong), initially focusing on Yip Man's family's urban plight since the second World War ravaged Foshan. But then the countless cliches start to set in: The arrogant turned loyal apprentice, the bandit turned humorous sideshow Jin Shanzhao, and lastly, the Rocky Balboa-Apollo Creed-type relationship between Yip Man and Hung (played by the film's action director Sammo Hung).

The fight scenes, although there's that same old hard-hitting effect, lost its degree of believability, especially in the scene of Yip Man's test to carry on with his martial club. Kung-Fu Masters jumping from small chairs to small chairs to reach a table with dead-set accuracy (and with a physically recognizable use of some wires) and numerous other small doses of gravity defiance. And the performances of those Brit actors. They were too damn over-the-top and annoying that they ended up looking like caricature characters that were just inserted for the sake of single-minded propaganda.

This is not a scathing review. More of one founded with disappointments towards the film's plot elements and characterizations. And though I like it when master Yip meets a worthy opponent (the Japanese in the first film ate truck loads of chain punches) once in a while, I hate how they portrayed a great adversary as a trash-talking lunkhead. And they gave him a great fight. He almost defeated Yip Man, for crying out loud. Based on Master Yip's reputation as a transcendent figure of the martial arts world, the boxer's not worth it.

Amusing scene of a young Bruce Lee (they really got a child actor that looked like him) naively requesting a Wing Chun lesson from Yip Man, though.


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