When I think Martial Arts I think Bruce Lee, I think Jet Li, now I even think Tony Ja or Michael Jai White, they are great martial artists who act. When I think of actors who do martial arts the first name that comes to mind is Donnie Yen. His skills never seem to impress me the way someone like Ja does in his fight scenes, but he always excels in the acting side of the role he portrays.
Ip Man is the story of the well known master of Wing Chun Gung Fu, Ip Man (aka Yip Man.) Many know him as Bruce Lee’s formal teacher, but few know his first 50 years before teaching a young Lee.
The story opens as a young wealthy family in mainland China shares the same struggles as most modern families, and a wife who on the surface nags he husband to balance business and family. A town known for its various masters, always earning to learn something from the very private Master Ip. Pressured to open schools and give private lessons, Ip keeps his Wing Chun to himself, save for a few occasions.
As Japan invades their house and wealth is taken and Ip is forced to live as a peasant within the ghettos that the Chinese are forced into living.
Ip Man tells the story of loss, sorrow, redemption and rebuilding. Though we know his eventual fate as a famous teacher, the story tells us of his struggles on his way to opening schools years later.
Yen’s acting is an amazing performance as the old master of China. Where Yen struggled in Legend of the Fist, reprising a role of Bruce Lee in the sequel to Fist of Fury due to the different styles in personality and energy; Yen nails the role of Master Ip a man known for almost an effortless and laid back personality even when fighting. Yen was born to portray this role.
4 1/2 stars out of 5
One of the best martial arts films of the decade.