This film was both spectacular and disappointing at the same time. It was spectacular in that it showcased three great traditional Chinese martial arts: Wing Chun, Baguazhang, and Xing-yi Chuan. The fight scenes were spectacular: Ip Man’s sturdy and efficient Wing Chun pitted against the gracefully circular and evasive but lethal Baguazhuang and the linear, powerfly destructive Xing-yi Chuan.
The choreography was done by Woo-ping Yuen (see my review of Man of Tai Chi.) The choreography becomes a character in the movie. Ip Man’s Wing Chun is shown as highly efficient. There are only three forms in the whole style and only two weapons to learn. Baguazhuang and Xing-yi Chuan are much more elaborate: usually taught together and taking decades to master. The fight scenes almost become a type of ballet, elegant, graceful like ballet, but a lot of fun to watch.
The film was disappointing in that the story was hard to follow. Apparently, the theatrical release was longer; the DVD had several minutes cut out of it. This makes for a rather confusing plot.
Ip Man lives in the Southern Part of China, Foshan. A Baguazhang and Xing-yi Chuan master in the Northern part of China, Gong Yutian comes to Ip Man to challenge him. Gong Yutian also brings his accomplished daughter Gong Er with him. Gong Er is played by Ziyi Zhang of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame. There is a subplot involving Gong Er avenging a death caused by her brother. Ultimately, Ip Man goes North to Hong Kong and has trouble there, but eventually establishes a Wing Chun school, and ultimately tutors Bruce Lee. Again, a very confusing plot. I hope that the studio eventually issues a directors cut to fill in the gaps.
Recommended for fans of excellent martial arts choreography.
Skip it if you like strongly plotted movies.
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