Ip Man 葉問 (2008) – HK Movie

March 8, 2009 jeansdream
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It’s been a while since we visited our home theatre.  :)

Hubby and I rented 2 movies last evening.  Body of Lies (2008) and this one, which I am going to write about here - Ip Man 葉問 (2008), released in China /  Malaysia / Singapore / Hong Kong etc at December 2008.

This is a martial arts (Wing Chun Chuan) and a semi-biography movie of Ip Man, the kung fu mentor of the legendary and perhaps the most celebrated and remembered international martial arts movie star Bruce Lee.  This movie shows us what kind of man Ip Man was.

Directed by Yip Wai-shun Wilson 葉偉信 and written by Edmond Wong, the crew and casts included Action Director Sammo Hung 洪金寶, Music Director Kenji Kawai, Art Director Mak Kwok-kung Ken, Donnie Yen 甄子丹 as Ip Man, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi 池内博之 as General Miura, Simon Yam 任達華 as Merchant Zhou, Lam Ka-tung 林家棟 as the Interpreter, Fan Siu-wong Louis 樊少皇 as the Theif Chief from the North, Chen Zhi-Hui 陳之輝 as Master Liu, Lynn Hung 熊黛林 as the Wife of Ip Man etc.  What can I say – a solid team.

I am a newbie to Tai Chi, a style of Chinese martial arts.  Watching “Ip Man” gives me great reinforcement that kung fu, seamingly slow at practice time, can be an effective and convenient, and shall I say – lethal - weapon for self defense.  Wing Chun, the martial arts which Ip Man mastered so well, is direct – it’s straight forward and efficient.  You don’t see fancy and big movements in this Chuan itself.  This Chuan seems to target after pressure points and will go after weak organs like eyes, face, head, throat etc if needed.  The wooden dummy with couple sticks extended from the trunk which Ip Man practiced his Win Chun with resembles the combat target.  (An interesting note for those who don’t read Chinese – in the movie, a paper with 4 Chinese characters is sticked on Ip Man’s wooded dummy – it says “Master Wife” (老婆大人) – cute.)

The movie was set around the second Sino-Japanese War.  The content could be very heavy and dead serious, but Yip Wai-shun and the writer Edmond Wong made it flowing and bearable.  At the back of most Chinese minds, especially those who suffered from the second Sino-Japanese War / WWII, they really “don’t like” (reads hate) Japanese.   China was invaded and her people were humilated / raped / tortured / experimented by the Japanese army then.  Many Chinese are still angry nowadays because the right-wing Japanese government still does not admit evil deeds then and has manupulated its history textbook so such dark times weren’t clearly described to the young Japanese generations.  In this movie, it’s only normal and truthful to history that it’s filled with a repeated theme of such emotions.  Tho Ip Man was presented as a super cool, generous, forgiving, easy going and calm master, he had his “angry and mildly racist” moments.  I am referring to the fight scenes of Ip Man and the 10 judo black-belts in the gym, and his comment about Japanese cannot understand being considerate and generous to others hence they don’t deserve to learn / master martial arts.  I accept that – given he’s been born and living in that sad and painful era, his actions are understandable – he’s not a saint and strictly speaking, his actions are “an eye for an eye”.  On the bright side, Ip Man was such an extremely easy-going and gentle person.  Though he (and his wife as well) knows that his martial arts skill is the best in his hometown, he never shows off and he doesn’t compete with others.  He is such an introvert and has almost nil personal ego.  But when it comes to his beloved family and country, he’s not shy and won’t hesitate to express his emotions.  The story of the Interpreter was realistic.  The relationship of Ip Man and his wife was plain yet deep.  The overall script was strong and detailed.

Donnie’s martial arts is good – there is no doubt.  I find his acting improving as well.  He used to be a quite rigid and stern guy in front of the camera many years ago.  He used to care for his moves more than his face and voice – I can’t dispute that, afterall, he got attention from his actions.   And his recent movies showed a gradual improvement on the acting end.  In this movie, I am delightful to have a glimpse of his comic side.  He didn’t say something homorous nor was his facial expressions homorous.   Perhaps I should say the credits also go to Yip Wai-shun’s powerful directing? 

All those I cited in the crew and cast - I think they all did a great job.  I enjoy the Japanese casts – Hiroyuki and the actor who played Miura’s subordinate.  Hiroyuki is so handsome and his Judo (his stunts) seems impressive.

Lines in the movies I like:  (meaning only, not exact wordings): 

1) It’s not this martial arts style beats that style; it’s the person.

2) There is no man in the world who’s afraid of his wife.  There is only men who respect their wife.  (I don’t think this is universal truth, but this reflects Ip Man’s loving mind anyway and this is nice.)

I burst into laughter at this scene:  Ip’s son ridng on his bike, talking to his dad when Ip was dueling with the Thief Chief from the North in the house.  Halirous line too. 

Tho too short, I enjoy watching the bonus documentary and the photos. I enjoy Ip Man the movie and I will be looking forward to Ip Man 2.  I was thinking perhaps Ip Man’s son resented martial arts so much when he was a kid coz his dad seemed to be more interested in Wing Chun than himself.  And who did his son learn his Wing Chun from?  Will I find answers in the sequal?  Another interesting note:  some characters like the Interpreter and the Theif Cheif are supposedly dead, but due to the cencership of China that these scenes were cut from the theatrical version, these roles have a chance to be reprised in Ip Man 2.

Entry Filed under: Movie Ping 影評

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