Monday, February 15, 2010

Ip Man

Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip appear to be hell bent on reviving the entire martial arts genre by their damn selves. If we just forget about the incoherent second half of Dragon Tiger Gate, they've done a pretty solid job.

I'm the first to scoff at fools who give a shit about anything but the fight scenes in a kung fu movie, but occasionally a movie comes along that absolutely delivers the fu, and gives a shit about the story, and actually has the script and restraint to pull that story off. It's a bit hard not to compare this to Jet Li's Fearless, a movie that has more or less the same plot -- one kung fu master inspires China to kick out the Japanese -- and may have had more spectacular fight scenes, but was a dreadful, sappy, incoherent, embarrassing mess otherwise. An opinion only strengthened by seeing Ip Man do it so much better.
I used the word restraint for a good reason; histrionics are pretty much inevitable in Chinese movies, but Ip Man more or less avoids them, and when it does indulge, it makes damn sure it's earned them. Which is not to say Donnie Yen doesn't completely blow the one really emotional beat the script hands him, but you're willing to overlook that in the context of a performance that completely drops all traces of his usual ego-maniacal self-absorption and finds the cool in always being polite, cultured, and able to fights swords with a feather. I was particularly impressed with Ip Man's relationship with his wife, which manages to find a new angle on something I think everyone else pretty much gave up on finding new angles on.
Got to admit, I kinda wished I'd waited to see it in theaters, though. It better be coming.


  1. While the story was good enough for the film, it was still hilariously historically inaccurate for something 'based on a true story' lol. That said, the fights were fucking incredible, especially the one where Ip takes on like 20 Japanese dudes and punches some of them like 100 times at once and shit.