Starring: Donnie Yen
Directed By: Wilson Yip
Set in Foshan during the 1930’s, Ip Man is the story of Bruce Lee’s teacher and mentor, Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man, played by Donnie Yen. The film depicts the life of Ip and the struggles everyone in Foshan faced during the Japanese invasion of 1937. Before the invasion, Foshan was filled with many kung fu schools that would recruit and also challenge other schools. Southern Chinese Martial Arts, also known as Nanquan, or Southern Style, was the kung fu style practiced in Foshan. Ip, although very skillful, stayed very private and to himself. He was highly regarded as one of the best martial artist in Foshan due to results from private competitions and closed-door battles. The film starts off with Ip about to engage in a private, friendly, martial arts challenge from a Northern regional master, Jin Shanzhao. Ip would win the contest with Wing Chun using little to no effort, while unaware of an eavesdropper watching the entire challenge from outside his window. The eavesdropper would eventually relay the news to everyone else in town while Ip stays unassuming, thus reconfirming his reputation as the best martial artist in the region. The film eventually takes a turn for the worst, when Japanese military forces invade Foshan. Ip and his family would lose their home; forced to live in a lower end establishment with Ip having to work hard labor. In the midst of the take-over, the Japanese military, under the command of general Miura, manifested an arena that was set up for martial arts competitions. Miura began to recruit local Chinese martial artists to fight against his military trainees. Ip will eventually find himself inside the same arena in search of one of his friend’s that was recruited earlier on, but never made his way back home. After seeing a fellow Chinese master killed unfairly, Master Ip demands to enter the competition, requesting to go up against 10 karateka at once. Master Ip goes “beast mode” dismantling all 10 opponents with a furious array of Wing Chun techniques and strikes like never before seen on television. The fight scene will go down as one of the most iconic ass-whippings of all time. I was able to feel the justification behind each blow, while sitting at home watching the television. Goosebumps, on top of goosebumps, as I witnessed Donnie Yen display the most beautiful Wing Chun dance I have ever seen. The battle would gain the interest and attention of general Muira who would later go searching for Ip. Ip faces general Muira in the final fight of the film, which turns into an epic showdown between two martial arts masters. An instant classic for the ages, Ip Man gets 5 out of 5 stars and Donnie Yen gets a global Wing Chun pat on the back.