Starring : Donnie Yen , Sammo Hung , Simon Yam,Fan Siu-Wong
Action Director : Sammo Hung
Director: Wilson Yip Wai Shun
copyright© Mandarin films 2010
Many have been waiting for the sequel to 2009's Ip Man ,and now that it's here on DVD (at least on region 3 anyhow) .So is it a sequel worth the wait or is it as many sequels go ,Not as good as the first or is it just indifferent to the first .
The film starts with a look back at the first ,and then we start with Ip Man and his wife and child having arrived in Hong Kong living in a small apartment .Ip is also offered by a friend who runs a newspaper the loan of a roof top area so he can set up a martial arts school.
Getting down to work Ip makes fliers (hand drawn ) for his school ,after a while a young upstart ,Wong Leung arrives to challenge Ip to a fight ,implying that Ip does not look anything like a martial artist in a manner of speaking.Ip defeats the guy to a point of embarrassment for the poor guy.
Later on Wong returns with his friends to challenge Ip ,Ip once again plays along and defeats them all at once.Amazed by Ip's speed and unusual fighting manner they all bow to him greeting him as master.
Now Ip has some pupils and many more they bring along to.Though he is not forth coming in getting their fee's ,which he needs to pay rent and eat.
Now Wong ,who as first pupil of Ip kinda makes himself first senior ( as you do).While out posting fliers Wong is challenged by students from the local Hung Ga school ,which results in a fight that he wins ,which in-turn results in a group of Hung Ga students arriving who beat him up and kidnap him and hold him to ransom.
With news that Wong is being held ,Ip goes to help his man ,but is confronted by a form of thuggery in the form of the Hng Ga men ,who once releasing Wong ,who has been kept in a tank for fish .Attack Ip with machetes because Ip won't pay money to free Wong.
In a scene more a kin to triads having street battles Ip has to use whats around him to protect himself and and Wong from becoming dog Meat. The fight is full of intricate moves showing Wing Chun in it's finest ,but also it show a side more reminiscent of the early Jackie and Sammo films with props used in battle to great effect ,from crates,pallets,chairs and what ever any one can grab is used to good effect.
Now in a vital moment when you think can they get away ,To Ip's rescue in the form of Jin Shanzhao (Fan Siu Wong from the first film) arrives with his band of men running towards Ip ,Ip looks on thinking 'i;m done for here 'But No Jin is here to make piece .Which is a turn up for the books.
Then before Jin can calm the event ,the Master of the Hung Ga students turn up ( Hung Chun -Nam played by the mighty Sammo Hung) If ever a scene in film was elevated to greatness it's when Sammo walks in to shot followed by a 100 students or so.
Now Ip will find out how hard it is to Open a martial arts school in Hong Kong in the fifities .It actually shows how martial schools provided protection to local business and people ,and if you did not comply you would have a tough time .In much the same way Bruce Lee was told not to teach the art to the gweilo's (white man 'Westerner).
Hung tells Ip that he can not teach martial arts in Hong Kong without fighting the masters of the local schools to prove he is good enough to teach .This results in Ip having to take up the challenge as he arrives to prove his prowess he is greeted by a circle of Hong Kong Masters with a table platform in the middle surrounded by a barrage of stools turned feet up ,the idea to fight upon a table top ,fall off you lose and get a broken back .Stay on and you get to fight the next guy.
Now when your next guy is master Hung himself ,Ip knows he will have a fight on his hands and he does as the two clash in a duel that will have you on the edge of your seat as the two masters counter the balance of each other as they fight table top .
Now winning your matches are one thing ,to teach in Hong Kong you have to pay a fee each month to the martial arts society,don't pay and they can not protect you from the troubles you may incur.Ip being a man of honor and having no money refuses to pay and says he will teach none the less.
Now while this is going on there is a Boxing match being arranged by a inspector in the Hong Kong Police force called Wallace who also happens to be corrupt.Thing is Wallace is using Hung and his men to prepare and set up the match for the British .All this is over scene by one of Wallace's subordinates ''Fatso''.Now Fatso is a good friend of Hung and is trying to arrange payment for Hung and his men ,but Wallace is shirting away from this and when Hung protests the issue with Wallace he threatens Hung with closure of his fish stalls while insulting the Chinese at the same time.
The boxer in question is Twister Milos a Champion Boxer and one with a bad attitude towards anybody not White in the extreme sense.Now Ip is teaching his students but Hungs Men are causing trouble for new recruits trying to go to Ip and this results in his students retaliating and the surrounding locals property getting damaged. Now this in turn means Ip will lose the roof top lent to him for training as his students have trashed the place.
Undeterred Ip say's he will teach his students still asking them to report to his home the following morning.Add to this that his wife is expecting their second child this adds to the tension.
Ip now visits Hung to confront him about the trouble that his students have caused,Hung gets mad and Hung starts what he felt he did not finish at the trials ,as the two exchange blows ,one of Hungs Children get in the way and Ip saves him from a blow and the fight stops as the rest of Hungs family arrive.Ip implies Hung should spend time with his family then worry about fighting him for no reason then big headiness.
The following week see's Ip training his students in the park ,Hung appears and sits ,Ip gives a look and goes over to greet Hung .Hung gives some tickets to Ip for the Western Boxing match and leaves but not before saying'' It's a good place to train ,here.And walks away .From here on in there is a admiration for each other between the two masters.
As we arrive towards the Start of the Western Boxing match the preliminaries open and all the Chinese martial art schools are there to perform there art in the form of forms.Showing the Westerners the other side of the coin so to speak.But our British boxer ''Twister'' seems to want to cause trouble and entering the ring precedes to attack the Chinese performers causing a up roar within the arena.
To up hold Chinese honor and stop the Gweilo putting down the Chinese Master Hung challenges Twister to a fight.It's this fight that will pit Chinese Kung Fu against Western Boxing ,as the two collide in a furious battle the Going gets tough for Master Hung ,as he is bashed about the head with Twisters gigantic Boxing gloves (shaking his brain to bits in the process no doubt ) Given the age difference between our two combatants Master Hung Holds his own for a number of rounds as his and Ip's pupils look on.
But it's the old adage 'put two fighters together of equal standard and if one is considerably younger he will win most likely due to being fitter /faster and less injured over the years ,as there is no better advantage then youth.
It's here that we are dealt a blow in the form of the death of Hung in the ring as Twister repeatedly bashes Hung about the head.( It's Quite disturbing seeing Sammo take a beating)
Outraged by the lack of rules being upheld and the brutality of the match ,the Chinese are angered ,stories are written this in turn angers the British officials.In a press conference to suppress the situation ,they announce a second match and that Twister will fight any Chinese willing to step in to the ring.
Gliding in with less then no arrogance Ip Man arrives and on record says he will fight for the honor of the Chinese People and the late Master Hung.
With Ip's wife moving out to let Ip prepare ,Ip resumes a training program to get in to shape .The night of the match arrives ,once again the locals are out in force and the Westerners seem to be reveling in the proceedings.
Ip enters the ring as does Twister to a enormous amount of show boating (which i really find annoying) Ip and Twister clash in a battle that separates the men from the boys and throughout the rounds the pair trade blows with a fury so real it's blistering to see ,once again Twisters massive Gloves give problems as breaking through the defense with your bare fists is a hard feat.Ip has to try and get in low and attack his ribs,sides,and rear when possible ,this becomes worse when officials declare that Ip can not use his feet to fight ,basically halving his options.The blows fly and Ip takes some resounding blows that knock him down a couple of times ,but in the fury of his call for justice and honor keeps returning to his feet.Finally delivering a flurry of blows that will leave Twister floored for good.
Ip claims that he did not want to show the brutality of the Chinese but that we are all the same and we should each respect one another in a similar fashion.
The film closes with one of Ip's pupils bringing a young boy to see him about learning Wing Chun,Ip asks why do you want to learn from me ,the boy replies ,to beat up others who try and get tough with me.Ip laughs and says ,come back when your older,and what's your name ,the boy replies 'Bruce Lee''.
But then that's another story .
So was it as good s the first or better ,Well Ip Man 2 is great film Donnie and Sammo give top performances and Sammo directs the action with gusto and the fights are first class.But compared to the first i don't think it was as good .Why ? ,well i think the story focused to much on this Western Boxing match .once you got past the beginning and Ip's trails against the masters it was basically about the boxing tournament.
I feel more should have been made of the fights against the Hong Kong Masters.And i would have preferred it took place on solid ground.Giving a more realistic feel to it.Now i don't know if IP had to fight on table ,may be i should look it up.but it seems a bit strange.And there was some wire work in those scenes as well,which could have been left out for a film based on a true legend.Darren Shahlavi was good as the boxer and it was good to see him in such a big role.
I was also sad not to see Fan Siu Wong do any major fighting in the movie .Again did his character really go and live the family life ,or is he a character made for the film?
The i was confused by the Role of Simon Yam's Character,it was he who got Ip out of China to Hong Kong at the end of the first film ,when did he get shot in the head and made a simpleton.Or was it that Simon was not available for the duration of the films shoot ,and his character chopped away.
The one thing that made you love the first film was the characters who you found a bond with ,there just were not that many in this sequel and the ones returning where there just for wall paper so to speak.
A great film ,just not as good as the first.
Score out of Ten = 8
review date: 10-08-2010