ReviewWriter: Lai Swee WeiWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Ip Man", “Ip Man 2”
The release of this prequel couldn't come at a better time after the success of the earlier two "Ip Man" movies. Embracing the hype, producer Checkley Sin's dreams of making a movie about the legendary Wing Chun master came alive upon meeting veteran producer Raymond Wong. Poised to generate big bucks at the box office, "The Legend Is Born: Ip Man" regrettably comes off as a rip-off.
It was unfortunate that the casting of the actors weren't adventurous enough as we see the return of familiar faces from previous "Ip Man" films namely Dennis To, Fan Siu Wong, and Sammo Hung. However, what would be one of the highlights is the special appearance of 76-year-old Ip Chun (Ip Man's eldest son) who busted into some impressive Wing Chun moves against actor Dennis To.
Chronicling Ip Man's (Dennis To) younger days, "The Legend Is Born: Ip Man" kicks off where he first learned Wing Chun from Chan Wah Shun (Sammo Hung), and then subsequently from Leung Bik (Ip Chun) when his father sent him to Hong Kong's St Stephen's College to study. Leung Bik was in fact Chan Wah Shun's elder fellow-disciple, and son of Wah Shun's master Leung Jan. When Ip Man returns to Foshan after learning a modified version of Wing Chun from Leung Bik, Brother Chung Sok (Yuen Biao) who is in charge of the Wing Chun school after Wah Shun's passing, rejects his new techniques and proclaims it not fit to be called Wing Chun.
Unlike the earlier "Ip Man" movies, the choreography showcases more leg work, wrestling and weapons like the Eight Slashing Knives. Although Dennis To may bear similar physical resemblance to Donnie Yen, he fails to exude Donnie's admirable prowess and charisma especially during action scenes. He takes Donnie's calm demeanour during fight scenes a step too far by lacking in emotions, making him look not poised in any real danger.
The film also features Ip Man's adopted brother Ip Tin Chi (Fan Siu Wong) and a hilarious love triangle between the two with fellow disciple Li Mei Wai (Rose Chan). Those familiar with Ip Man's background would already know that there was no existence of an adopted sibling or the latter.
"The Legend Is Born: Ip Man" barely ignites any emotion within you towards the enemy in contrast to the earlier "Ip Man" movies where audiences might find themselves hating the Japanese and Westerners. In here, the threat of the Japanese is revisited with a certain twist involving someone close to Ip Man. While the extra characters brought into this film are composed to give a dramatic ending, it sadly ends up weak and unconvincing.
Watch this movie with little expectation, especially if you're used to Donnie Yen as the suave Ip Man.Cinema Online, 21 June 2010