The Legend Is Born: Ip Man

THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN (Hong Kong, 2010)
100 minutes, HD CAM, in Cantonese with English subtitles
Directed by: Herman Yau
Starring: To Yu-hang, Yuen Biao, Fan Siu-wong, Ip Chun, Sammo Hung, Lam Suet

Wilson Yip’s Ip Man movies starring Donnie Yen were such big hits that Hong Kong distributor Mei Ah decided that they wanted to make an Ip Man movie of their very own. They had two ideas: set it before the other two Ip Man movies so it feels like a prequel, and hire a bunch of awesome talent. Because of these two choices, the film winds up feeling like a much less pretentious, more action-oriented precursor to Donnie Yen’s Ip Man movies. Also? Ip Man fights ninjas.

Herman Yau was brought on board first and he’s a director who can make a two dollar movie feel like a million bucks. In his hands, this doesn’t feel like a knock-off but is instead a slambang B-movie from Hong Kong, the kind that fans used to love in the 90’s. Ip Man (To Yu-hang) is a kid in this film who gets sent to Hong Kong for school where learns new wing chun techniques from an eccentric coach (played by Ip Chun, Ip Man’s actual real-life son). But when he returns home to China all that happens is that his master (played by Jackie Chan’s “little brother” Yuen Biao) is Irritated that his student is suddenly incorporating kicks into his wing chun, his best friend (Fan Siu-wong from the first Donnie Yen Ip Man movie) is in love with his girlfriend, and the Japanese are invading, leading to the aforementioned ninja fight.

Starring Jackie Chan’s “little brother,” Yuen Biao, and his “big brother,” Sammo Hung, as well as featuring the ferocious Fan Siu-wong, with action choreography by Bruce Leung (Gallants, Kung Fu Hustle) and also featuring Ip Chun, this flick unleashes some serious whupass. The result is an unpretentious action flick that eliminates the bombast and myth-making of Wilson Yip’s two Ip Man movies to deliver a series of action setpieces that feature some of the best martial artists that forgot to bring chewing gum and are instead going to have to settle for kicking ass. The result is a breezy joyride of a flick, like a throwback to the glory days of Hong Kong action cinema in the 90’s.

Part of the Well Go USA Spotlight

Saturday July 29, 1:00PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets