Do you like Kung Fu movies? If so, you’ll probably enjoy this.
Ip Man, for me, has become a sort of legend. For years now I have heard about how excellent of a movie this was, and how I needed to witness the greatness. Since 2008, I have for some reason hesitated in finally getting around to watching it.
So, how is the film? Good, not great. The narrative provides a competency of character and action without alienating viewers, but doesn’t do much to elevate itself much beyond the standard trappings of the genre. Donnie Yen’s portrayal of our titular character is likable, charming, and ferocious with his fists. The action sequences are presented more as a visual splendor than what I think most would consider an “action scene.” Excellent choreography and physical prowess make Yen’s combat a treat for the eye. The action sequences make up less of the film than one might think, and this is a good thing. We get to know the characters outside of combat. The time between fight scenes also makes the fights seem more powerful. We as the audience aren’t numb to them.
The historical placement of the film is also interesting. We see Japanese occupied China, and all of the social angst, propaganda, and cultural memory that comes with the event. In America, most (if not all) of our World War II history is presented through the American experience. Seeing a different perspective was refreshing, interesting, and gave the film a genuine ethos.
Where the film will ultimately succeed in its afterlife is the story. Those new to the genre will find the characters charming. Those who wish for excellent fights will be pleased. While the film might not transcend toward greatness, it is certainly a fun watch. 7.75/10