Ip Man (1893-1972) was the expert in the Wushu fighting style of Wing Chun, and was the master of the famous kung fu star Bruce Lee. As there have never been any previous films about Ip Man, this film produced by Raymond Wong and directed by Wilson Yip was the very first.
Revolving around the true event of Ip Man rejecting the Japanese request to train their soldiers when they occupied China and even going as far as sparring with them, this is essentially a genre movie built around the martial arts set-piece. The movie doesn’t dwell on historical accuracy, but rather uses that settings to set the mood, deliver the message and simply tells you the life journey of a grandmaster in a fun and entertaining way.
Master Ip, kicks twelve kinds of ass in this movie, and it’s all accompanied by some of the meanest sound designs we’ve ever heard. Every one of his rapid punches can be felt as he pummels the poor bastards in his way with the Wing Chun-style of martial arts.
People are getting beaten, martial arts duels are taking place, and blood is spilled. This is not an action movie; it’s a kung fu movie. And it shows. Legendary martial arts star Sammo Hung brilliantly choreographs the fight scenes to perfection. The direction by Wilson Yip is slick and gripping as always, and he also gives the film a nice sepia tone to give a mid 30’s feeling to the film. Donnie Yen has this marvelous calm and zen like approach with his character Ip Man, taking out his opponents quite effectively with the minimal of moves.
All in all, “Ip Man” has quenched our thirst of a real good martial art movie where we don’t just watch a dude kicking asses, but where we can appreciate the man’s moral and virtues.