28 April 2010 | loccomotive2000
Where action becomes an art form.
Donnie Yen returns as the titular kung fu grandmaster in Ip Man 2, with Wilson Yip reassuming his directorial duties and, most importantly, Sammo Hung back in his role as action director, and also as a main character.
The story picks up from where the first movie left off. Ip, having survived the war period in Foshan, moves to Hong Kong with his family and attempts to make a living teaching his beloved art of Wing Chun boxing. However, he is met with opposition and hardship in the form of rival martial arts schools and the atypical British oppressors, and finds that even his formidable martial arts prowess may not be enough to resolve these problems.
But the story aside, anyone with a little background knowledge of this film should know what to expect; a dose of intense Hong Kong kung fu film action. As the story begins to drag, at some point even a unsuspecting viewer should have realized that all the plot devices and dialogue serve little purpose other than as catalysts leading to the combat scenes. And at helm of the fight scenes is none other than the legendary Sammo Hung, in familiar territory choreographing the Wing Chun style, which he made a name for himself in movies such as The Prodigal Son in the 80s. With some creative input of his own, he manages to compose complex and graceful fight sequences that stays true to traditional kung fu styles, from Praying Mantis to Hung Gar Kuen. And who better to bring his imagination to life than the ever reliable Donnie Yen? What Hung designs, Yen executes with masterful control and precision. And in the movie when the former steps up to challenge the latter in a sparring session, we witness two of Hong Kong's greatest kung fu stars pushing themselves doing what they're best at in a brilliant exchange of strikes and blows. Absolutely a sight to behold.
In the end, the typical viewer is unlikely to be captivated by the highly borrowed storyline, save for some who still enjoy the cinematic display of Chinese pride that is rather blatant and unsubtle. But you will be blown away by the fights, you will be in awe of the moves, and, if you're able to, appreciate the action scenes not as the mindless, disposable portion of the movie, but rather the core of it, carefully thought out, executed, and filmed as a true form of art. With that, forgive the storyline, and enjoy the film for what it is.