Dennis To Yu-Hang
Since then he has played Ip Man twice more and also starred in other films such as 1911 with Jackie Chan , The Woman of Knight Mirror Lake (2011) and Wudang (2012).
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IP MAN Kung Fu Master - 2019
IP Man is a legend of the modern era, unlike the folk legends of old China like Wong Fei Hong or Fon Sai Yuk.
So it's always interesting when a new film or series is released about the Martial artist from Foshan.
Many say without Bruce Lee Ip Man would be left in the shadows and his legacy forgotten.
I say without Ip Man would have Bruce Lee been so focused on Martial arts and Bruce be the Icon he is today for so many martial artists?
Ip Man's legacy has been around for decades and his teaching of Wing Chun has spread worldwide.
In reality, Bruce Lee's actual life is mediocre if you take away the film roles and characters he played, compared to Ip Man that is.
Ip Man's life was fraught with danger, from being a respected and wealthy person of society to being a groundbreaking Martial artist and having to flee from the Japanese Invasion.
So how come Ip Man has really only become known worldwide even to non-martial artists in the past say twenty years or so. The answer is not Bruce Lee, in fact, it is Donnie Yen and his films surrounding the Martial artists life.
So here we have another film about the story of Ip Man, this is not a Donnie Yen vehicle but here Dennis To returns to fill Ip Man's shoes, playing the role for the third time.
Dennis To originally played IP Man as a young man growing up in the 2010 film Ip Man The Legend is Born and was directed by Herman Yau. That film was later followed by Ip Man Final Fight as a sequel where it concentrated on Ip Man's later life in Hong Kong, where the role was played by Anthony Wong.
Here the film concentrates on Ip Man's life as a Police Officer before the Chinese Communist Revolution. So once again producers trying not to overlap any story that might be covered by the films starring Donnie Yen, of which there are four.
The film is not too long-running at under 80 minutes as the time it center's on is quite a small time frame. Ip Man is a serving Police Officer, Captain in fact, and is on the track of illegal Opium dealings in his region, the Japanese are buying their way through paying off unscrupulous civil servents.
When Ip Man confronts a famous Axe Gang led by San Ye, who are patriots who deal out their own form of justice by the use of their axes it all ends in disaster for all involved except the Japanese.
A Japanese political envoy in the region who believes Japan will rule China one day is pitting the Chinese against each other in order to wear down the Chinese pride.
With Ip Man a target after he saves San Ye's daughter the tables get turned and Ip Man must think out of the box to confront the Japanese.
Dennis To proves once again he is a good exponent of the arts in his role as Ip Man, even though the action is not as well shot as in Ip Man The Legend is Born, but then they had Sammo Hung on hand for that one and Herman Yau is a legendary director of Hong Kong action, whereas Li Liming might not have that experience.
Dennis To also had bit parts in the first two Ip Man films with Donnie Yen, so his characterisation of Ip Man is spot on. And like Donnie Yen is a trained Martial artist and trained in Wushu and was a gold medal winner in 1999 in the Wushu championships and a silver medal winner at the Asian Games in 2002 and again a Gold in 2005 at the East Asia Games.
I had to look hard at the actor playing San Ye , the head of the axe gang, and was spot on when I thought to myself, that Micheal Wong?
I also liked the character of Ip Man's Uncle, who busts some really great shapes throughout his performance
For a lower budget piece, the film was a good watch with some good action, I think at times the director shot certain scenes a bit art-house then would suddenly change format where the action was full-on. Shades of the Grandmaster,
I liked the way many of the moves were showcased where the move would perform then close in to see the direction of each of the moves.
Focusing on a specific point of Ip Man's life did shorten what could be filmed and I did find the 80 minutes running time a bit short and it did leave me wanting more especially at the end when we are served up an epilogue of a battle commencing between the Chinese and the Japanese but we are left filling in the blanks, but then I suppose that's a story for another day.
I enjoyed my time with Ip Man Kung Fu Master as it serves up another segment of the Ip Man story in a nice little bite-size feature. It may not be as epic as the films from Donnie Yen or Dennis To's original film playing the character but is worth a watch and maybe twice at that.
The film itself was never released at the cinema and went out via digital media on release in China in December 2019, whether this was down to the impending Pandemic back then I wonder.
Many may write off any of the other IP Man films where Donnie Yen does not star, but that would be foolish as in the end all these films are just a perspective of the Master life from different directors and filmmakers. And they're all over-exaggerated to make them a good piece of entertainment.
Review By Sertes Nake
Review Date: 27-08-2021
Year : 2019
Langauge : Mandarin
Director : Li Liming
Country : China
Release : Digital Media - December 2019
/ DVD / Bluray - 2020
Yuan Li Ruo Xin