Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster Reviews
Ip Man 2 once again brings much of the amazing martial arts action that I loved in the first movie, but this time around, the story is of a much different tone. Instead of dealing with the brutal circumstances and struggle for survival under the Japanese invasion and occupation of China during the 1930's, it centers around Ip Man and his family after they move to Hong Kong following the events of the first film. There, Ip Man seeks to establish a new martial arts school, but has to deal with the other martial arts masters already in the city.
The last half of the movie focuses on the British who were in charge in Hong Kong at the time; specifically an arrogant boxer and a cruel officer that have no respect for the Chinese, their ways, or their martial arts. This all leads up to finale where Ip Man defends Chinese honor against the boxer in a match. It's entertaining enough, but the story as a whole just doesn't hold up to the powerful, stirring plot of the original Ip Man.
Ip Man 2 is a good movie and definitely worth watching, but don't expect it to be better than the first film (it's not). Still if you like more than just surface thrills and smack-downs in your martial arts viewing, you shouldn't hesitate to see this.
Also worth noting is that along with once again doing the fight choreography, Sammo Hung has a pretty pivotal role as a martial arts master in the film. Good news for fans of the man's acting, as well as his martial arts prowess.
Here's where it gets silly. Iranian-British actor and martial artist Darren Shahlavi plays British boxing champion, Taylor "The Twister" Milos. To call him a ruthless character would be an understatement, and make no mistake, he is a character. He is the model definition of "the heavy". He shows no respect, belittling the very culture of the country he's a guest of. The portrayal is so crude he makes Ivan Drago, the central villain in Rocky IV, seem like a paragon of subtlety and restraint. At this point the plot feels as if it was lifted directly from that mid 80s movie. Chinese nationalism has rarely been this unbridled or obvious. I lost count how many times the British were referred to as "foreign devils" with unabashed contempt.
The 10 minute table fight sequence notwithstanding, there is little that's distinctive in this sequel. That's surprising given the legacy of this fascinating leader in martial arts. This was, however, a huge money-maker in China so look for Ip Man 3: The Teaching of Bruce Lee. Yes, that movie title may be a joke, but anyone familiar with Ip Man's life will appreciate the humor. Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung are of course a marvel in their combat scenes. If that's all you crave, you will not be disappointed. Their adversarial chemistry is exciting. I only wish the script could have been a bit less predictable.
Any scene in the film featuring Hung is gold. In fact, the sole reason to see Ip Man 2 is for Hung's match with Yen. If you've seen S.P.L.: Killzone, then you already have an idea of how epic a match between these two can be.
I see this story is nothing new to write home about; it's basically the Hong Kong version of Rocky IV, with Yen is equivalent to Sylvester Stallone's iconic character, and a very buffed-up Darren Shahlavi playing a British boxer which is the equivalent of Dolph Lundgren's Ivan Drago character. However the direction and the fight scenes are executed so masterfully that it makes the story easy to relate to.
In the final scene, I was surprised to see a child actor who plays as a superstar martial artist who first met the master and wanted to teach Wing Chun - it's true because of Ip Man's biopic - you'll see when you watch it.
Obviously, as the old adage goes, the sequel is usually never as good as the original, and of course this is so. But it was still nevertheless a quality work and enjoyable movie, despite stretching the truth about the real history of Ip Man, but of course, its a movie.
Hong Kong films are now of the highest quality, especially periodic movies like this, with wonderful sets, costumes and quality acting. recent movies, like Ip Man, Bodyguards and Assassins and the epic Warlords serve to reinforce the point that HK films are no longer cheap budget flicks but now top range productions which do rival and beat Hollywood easy, usually in Asia.
The cast of course is some of the golden boys of HK including Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and guest star Simon Yam, and backed up by impressive youngsters with acting and martial skills as well. Its great that vetran and HK legend Sammo was the action coordinator, though this may have not been his very best work, but it surely rates highly. I guess we have to thank the director and production cast for making the sequel with quality and vibrance and made sure the storytelling didn't lapse and movie flowed along seamlessly. It is really an embodiment on the character of Ip Man, a peaceful and humble man by nature, who is surrounded by violence from time to time, though fighting for his beliefs, pride and people.
And of course, most would be asking.... where's Bruce Lee? Well, of course, the movie isn't about Bruce, but you will see him at the end. :P
An enjoyable movie, but I strongly suggest those who havn't seen Ip Man 1, to watch that first, they certainly don't know what they are missing.
Sammo brings again his sharp eye for the action, his always magnetic screen persona helps a lot as well. Simon Yam and Fan Siu Wong could had been used a lot better. Neverless, good times.
The legendary "IP MAN" is back with more lightning attacks and this time he has a mutual friend who can reply every blow from him.
Awesome setting, a fine plot and two legendary "Martial Art Directors"(Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung) in one film.
What a great sequel!
The fighting scene in the fish market was well done, and the table fight scene was spectacular and must have been next to impossible to film. The choreography was great and the dialogue was fair enough for a movie written in Chinese and translated into English. A dubbed or subtitled movie is never complete without corny American (or British in this time period) portrayal.
The fighting style is rapid, and when put up against western-boxing, you can really tell the difference between the two styles. However, this movie trails heavily in the shadow of Jet Li's Fearless. Granted, both movies take you back to the same time period when Japan was relinquishing control of China and the British influencing culture, but Fearless got there first....and years ago....and was also excellent. Only a few times did you notice the punches and kicks didn't connect and just a few times did the movie slow down with extra story lines that didn't quite matter. The human story in this is emotional...your classic story involving opposing sides that end up coming together in the end to defeat a bigger and badder bully.
If you watch foreign flicks like this occasionally, you'll recognize Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Darren Shahlavi but Donnie Yen takes the gold.
Overall...you won't find a better martial arts movie out there since Jackie Chan and Jet Li stopped making them than Ip Man and Ip Man 2.
Towards the end we catch a brief glimpse of the great Bruce Lee who went on later to learn the fine art of Wing Chun under the tutelage of Yen, hinting at a possible third installment in the IP MAN series.