24 July 2013 | AThames
Awesome choreography, intense scenes and a great story
Directed by Wilson Yip (Killzone, Flashpoint) This movie is a "portrayal" of the famous Wing Chun master Yip Man, credited as being the guy that taught Bruce Lee kung fu.
The movie starts of a bit slow, and seems a bit awkward imo. The dialogue didn't really work on me, and I didn't quite feel the comedy or drama the dialogue was supposed to invoke. However, troublemakers enter the city and the fighting shall begin. When that part began, the movie immediately started to grow on me. The fighting is very well choreographed, and the stunts are really amazing. I am very interested in martial arts and fighting, and thus many movies loses me when I have to see a 300 pound muscular guy supposedly gets knocked out for 10 minutes by 1 jab from e.g. Jackie Chan or choked out by Angelina Jolie. However, in this movie the fight scenes are so amazing that I easily accept that a knee to the body can send a guy a flying across the room. The fighting is of course unrealistic (though not extremely so), but they somehow make it seem legit in this movie, and you actually start believing for the duration of the movie that Ip Man is capable of this stuff.
As for the cast, Donnie Yen is the one that stands out. He is a really great choice for Ip Man, with a very calm and intelligent charisma, and he shows in this movie that he is capable of being a diverse actor. The other actors did a fine job as well, most notably his wife (Lynn Hung) and General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), considering their acting experience. The cinematography, soundtrack, costumes and art direction are all well done. They got some fairly experienced people for that, but not anyone "really" famous (except for the movie buffs perhaps), most notably Kenji Kawai and Kenneth Mak.
My main critique lies in the fact that this movie markets itself as a historical portrait, while this is clearly not so. Apart from the fight scenes that has probably never gone down in reality, we also have the portrayal of the Japanese. While they definitely did invade China and committed some atrocities there, I somehow doubt they had karate tournaments with Japanese vs Chinese. The movie also claims that the city population was reduced from 300k to 72k, which I somehow doubt, but I am unable to find any source that either disprove or confirms that statement. But since the movie is from China I guess a non-biased portrayal of the Japanese invasion is too much to ask. But the thing that bugged me the most was the final part of the movie, which show a fight scene with following events that I am 100% positive has never happened, but the movie actually try to claim that it did (obviously I can't explain the scene to you without spoiling).
So all in all a great movie. The plot meets the required amount of relevancy that is needed to keep you interested, but what really stands out is the fight scenes which is what lift this movie to great heights, and what I assume has secured it a place on the IMDb top 250 list. I greatly enjoyed the movie, but the fact that the movie tries to sell itself as being a historic portrayal really bugs me the wrong way and drags it down a point.