Ip Man 2 continues the legendary story of one of the most venerated masters of Wing Chun. It is the highly anticipated sequel to Wilson Yip’s 2008 Yip Man biopic. Although known in the West as Bruce Lees Master, Ip Man is one of Chinese Martial Arts most highly regarded practitioners. The film focuses on the time of the second Sino-Japanese War, where Ip Man struggled as a young man to find his place amongst the Martial Arts Schools and founding his own students.
With the devastation for the Japanese occupation of China, Ip Man’s family have lost all their wealth. After relocating to Hong Kong, Ip Man opens a Wing Chung School and is immediately challenged by local Hung Fist master named Hung Jan-nam. On top of this aggression, the occupying British aren’t too happy about the presence of his school and hire a handful of toughened fighters to try and expel or frighten him out of the country. The film broadly comments on chauvinism as well as imperialism, portraying the realities of Chinese suffering by the British, as well as Western perceptions towards Asian Martial Arts.
The movie explores the movements and tenets behind the martial arts technique mastered by Ip Man. Many tiny moments expound the gentleness and beauty of spirit Ip Man possessed. From his gentle manner, kindness towards those less fortunate and his refusal to beg or chase money, Ip Man is portrayed reverently.
Its difficult to choose a favourite scene. Donnie Yen is a martial arts action star of impeccable pedigree, an actor of considerable power and focus with a calm, ferociousness which chills even the most disengaged viewer. The multiple actions scenes are orchestrated with precision, perfection and breathtaking timing. Its gratifying to notice too that most of the fight scenes rely more on skill than wirework.
If you are expecting Bruce Lee to appear in the film, then don’t get your hopes up too high. Although originally the script was intended to focus on the relationship between Ip and his most famed discipline, permissions and film rights had not reached a stage of negotiations before filming began, so it was decided to portray Bruce as a child at the end of the film ( and leave it open for yet another sequel) The film is all about Ip Man settling down into Hong Kong (the first hour) and defending the honour of the Chinese – again – (the second hour).
Ip Man 2 is an engrossing drama commenting on the society norms of the 40s and 50s as well as being a dynamic martial-arts flick.
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