ReviewWriter: Loong Wai TingWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Fearless" (2006), "Wing Chun" (1994)
It's a case of dejà vu seeing Donnie Yen all done up as Grandmaster Ip in "Ip Man". He looked very much like the modern founder himself. Comparing Donnie to the rest of the best martial artists like Jet Li isn't hard. In fact, what makes Donnie stand out is his fighting style and the way he works. For Donnie, it has always been the macho looking, no-nonsense type of action hero. Here, I dare you - try putting Donnie in Jackie Chan's shoes.
Forget "The Forbidden Kingdom". Since Jet Li's "Fearless," it's been a while since there was something this good. Believed to be the mother of all martial arts schools, the place where "Ip Man" was shot looks almost like the one in "Fearless." What differentiates them is the number of billboards and modern-looking cars.
The narration in biopics is very important and "Ip Man" is up to mark. We are taken on a journey about the Grandmaster's early life and how China goes from peace and affluence to war-torn chaos when the Japanese invaded the area. The story telling is a balanced one, with a good start and a strong finish with no loose ends. Don't put too much hope on the substandard subtitles, though.
One of the things that excite me is seeing Donnie work his magic in bringing the legendary master to life. Already in his mid forties, Donnie can still kick a whole lot of butt no doubt. With his lighting hands, I'm at a loss of words to describe the artistry. Sorry, Michelle. Your 1994 "Wing Chun" just can't beat Donnie's.
However, if there's something missing from "Ip Man", it's that full shot of students practicing under a hot sun on a windy afternoon that we get in every other martial arts film. In the case of "Ip Man", not only is the windy afternoon gone, the group of students are excluded as well. Director Wilson Yip and martial arts director Sammo Hung opted for a more contemporary style, which is to use ageing factory workers displaying their skills in a confined garden. Talking about originality, huh?
"Ip Man" is good enough to watch for a second time. With over 200 million estimated wing chun practitioners all over the world (Bruce Lee being the most famous), the movie would definitely do well if each and every one of them goes to watch "Ip Man"!Cinema Online, 16 December 2008