This is a film loosely based on the life of Ip Man (Donnie Yen), who is a grandmaster in the martial art of Wing Chun living in Foshan. Ip Man is by far the most gifted in the town that is so highly recognized as the greatest martial arts in China. There are many martial arts schools in Foshan, but Ip Man tries to keep to himself and not teach classes, though he is still respected in town because of private matches he has with friends and other masters. However, when the Japanese invade Foshan Ip and his family lose all of their money, and home, forcing them to live with little food for a long time. But Ip sees a way out of the madness when the Japanese offer a bag of rice to anyone who will come and fight their martial arts students, though everything does not work out as he expected.
In my opinion, Ip Man is a very underrated film. If it weren't for the first thirty minutes, this is a nearly flawless movie. That is actually my only real complaint. The entire film struggles in the beginning, the direction and acting mainly. In fact, I almost quit watching it, though I am quite glad that I did not. Early in the film there is no character development, and a fight comes right off, which made me feel like I was going to be seeing another cheesy and predictable action film. It was predictable, but certainly not cheesy. Ip Man does not find its place until right after the title's character defeats the people from out of town, which is when the film gets both interesting and the characters begin to get developed, along with the story. This is when I felt like I was actually watching an excellent film, as the characters are actually developed nicely. The story as well, its message may be simple, and the film may not be very historically accurate, but it is still effective, and with a movie like this that is really all that matters.
The acting, as I mentioned earlier, does struggle in the beginning, even Donnie Yen. But as Ip Man progressed Yen really got into the performance with plenty of passion and emotion packed in. He was really a big surprise for me, I was not expecting much from him because I have never seen one of his films before. Lam Ka-Tung was great as well, playing the translator for the tournament matches. Lynn Hung playing Ip Man's wife was no doubt the most impressive in my opinion. She was absolutely perfect in this role, and could not have done better at all.
The screenplay was strong as well, though I cannot say it was a very difficult film to watch. I mean, to me movies are more than just mindless entertainment, but lets be honest here, the main and most important part of the film was the fight scenes. That's what people sit down to watch, and that is what was drawn out so well. And the action sequences were not one bit disappointing. They were absolutely, in every possible way, phenomenal. Both intense and incredible in how realistic they were, completely taking the audience into the film and keeping their eyes stuck to the television. they were a pleasure to watch, and if you just want to sit down for an entertaining beat people up movie, this is it.
Wilson Yip's direction was immaculate. Perfect from beginning to end. Maybe not the most impressive show ever put on, but it was clean and enjoyable throughout. Which is enough for me to give him a grade A for his work. This is actually the first film of his that I have seen, and I certainly will be seeing more from now on.
Overall, Ip Man is a film for martial arts lovers. It has sparked an interest in me and now I will be looking more into these types of films. Before this I thought "The Karate Kid" was a good movie. Now I know better.