Wednesday, February 9, 2011
G and Poe REVIEW - Ip Man 2 (2010)
Donnie Yen is back as Grandmaster Ip. The film follows him through Hong Kong in 1949 under British Colonial rule. Grand-Master Ip opens a Wing Chun school which causes a problem with the Hung Ga school...naturally.
Starring - Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung
Director - Wilson Yip
G's Take: ** 1/2
Donnie Yen said “Ip Man 2 will incontrovertibly become a classic, bettering the first.” I had similar hopes going into Ip Man 2. The first film in the series (which will become a trilogy sans Yen) had a magic to it, a quiet intensity that escalated to a near perfect ending. I wish director Wilson Yip had made that film. What an accomplishment that would have been. Ip Man 2 fails to match the epic scope of the first film, settling in to routine fights instead.
One of my major problems with the film is that the characters are meaningless. There is zero connection with anybody outside of Master Ip and his wife which eventually lead to some very hollow fight scenes. Sure, the scene on the table is cool but far from the epic fight in Grand-Master Ip’s house in the first film, and yeah the fights in the boxing rings are very well done (thanks to Sammo Hung’s choreography) but they don’t have the consequence associated with them that the first film had. This film is worth seeing for both the work of Yen and Hung, but all have done better. After you see this film, spend some time with the Shaw Brothers or watch the first Ip Man, then tell me how good Ip Man 2 really is.
Poe's Take: ** 1/2
So, is Ip Man 2: Legend of a Grandmaster better than Ip Man? Not even close. Is the table top fight scene that is getting so much attention one of best kung fu battles of recent times? No. In fact, as an avid lover of kung fu movies, the attention this scene is getting baffles me as there have been so many other better fight scenes throughout the history of the genre. Is the acting minus the performances of Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung poor? For the most part, yes. The actors who play the British baddies are laughably bad. Does the plot switch gears midway through making you feel that you are watching two different films at times? Indeed. Part one focuses on Ip Man trying to establish himself in Hong Kong and starting a martial arts school, part two has him battling a British boxer.
Does this review sound like I greatly dislike Ip Man 2? Yes. Do I? No. In fact, I would recommend watching the film as it is entertaining in a Rocky IV kind of way and Donnie Yen still has a great film presence. Ip Man 2 was just a major letdown for me as I was expecting the greatness of the first film after reading all of the positive reviews the movie has been gathering. It got me thinking, have some of those reviewers ever taken the time to catch an old Shaw Brothers film? Do yourself a favor, go and watch Masked Avengers or 8-Diagram Pole Fighter and then ask yourself if the table top fight in Ip Man 2 is that amazing. And for that matter, go and watch the first Ip Man film again if you want to see a great modern day kung fu flick.
FINAL VERDICT: G and Poe agree, RENT IT (unless you find this at your local independant theater in which case, support your local theater and see it)