Ip Man (2008) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Original Mandarin Title: 葉問
Release Date: December 10, 2008
Directed by: Wilson Yip
Language: Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese
Music by: Kenji Kawai
Starring: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung, Fan Siu-Wong, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Shibuya Tenma, Chen Zhihui, Li Chak, Xing Yu, Wong You-nam, Calvin Cheng, To Yu-hang

In late 1930s, Foshan is a small city in Guangdong, part of southern China – little known about the city.

However, this is the era where the community lives in peace and harmony among each other with the typical Chinese architecture of making business side-by-side. They are a community who help each other. Martial arts centre are open to anyone who are interested. They have a variety of martial arts skills and martial arts masters often held friendly competition to show their capabilities.

One humble and rich man who has a distinctive martial arts background did not open a martial arts centre for he does not want to have any disciples; but practices during his leisure time and any time he wanted. He rather keep a low profile. That man was Ip Man (Donnie Yen). Grandmaster of Wing Chun.

Although he does not have the centre but masters from various martial arts often proposed a friendly challenge of which his wife, Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung) do not approved of. Despite his dignity and reputation were laughed, he respected his wife’s decision sometimes.

Ip Man lives in a mansion with his wife and son, Ip Chun. The mansion exterior design resembles those westerners and interior and furniture are arranged according to the old Chinese architecture. Ip Man has no occupation besides helping his wife and having tea with his martial arts friends.

One day, a group of men arrived at Foshan from assumed Shandong. Jin Shanzhao (Fan Siu-Wong) has a very thick Shandong accent challenges all Foshan martial arts centre. He did this to conquer all the martial arts centre to set a name for himself. The northerner – Jin Shanzhao create havoc and chaos and defeated all present and remaining martial arts. Leaving one more person to be defeated.

Jin Shanzhao went over to Ip Man’s mansion and proposed a challenge. His wife solemnly disapproved and he was made a laughing stock by Master Jin. In the end, his wife approved with one condition – no broken items.

Ip Man (Donnie Yen) accepts Jin Shanzhao (Fan Siu-Wong) challenge

Ip Man accepted his challenge not because he wants to defeat Master Jin but to teach him to be respectful and humble. Master Jin is a reckless and center-minded who only knows about winning. The match ended with Ip Man winning with a swift-style.

Master Jin was furious and  he walked away from the scene, feeling embarrassed.

In 1937, China was invaded with Japanese Occupation. Foshan is not like it used to be. Everyone is running and hiding in fear from the Japanese army. Ip Man’s mansion was turned into a headquarters.

Forced to leave his wealth behind, he and his family have to live in a small compound area. Desperate to find food for his family, he became a coolie to carry coal mines.

Late one evening, Li Zhao (Gordon Lam Ka-Tung) arrives in a jeep with Colonel Sato (Shibuya Tenma). Li Zhao was Foshan police inspector but had become a translator for the Japanese. Thus, given the name “running dog” for traitorous relationship to side the Japanese.

Ip Man vows to defeat all 10 karate trainees

Colonel Sato proposed a challenge to those who can defeat Japanese karate trainees are allowed to get a bag of rice. Ip Man’s friend Lin (Xing Yu) accepts the challenge and defeated most of the karate trainees.  He earns 3 bags of rice for his effort and wanted to challenge to get more but defeated brutally by all 5 karate trainees. His death was witnessed by Ip Man. And Ip Man sought revenge and defeat all 10 karate trainees. Some brutally killed on the spot. He was awarded 10 bags of rice but decided to retrieve the bag of rice belonged to his dead friend as he returned to give his friend’s family.

General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) was impressed by Ip Man’s martial arts and he thirst to challenge Ip Man. But Ip Man refuses.

Ip Man seek help from his friend Chow Ching-chuen (Simon Yam), who own a cotton mill, working for the Japanese military now. But Chow was actually trying to seek help from Ip Man because Master Jin has return as highway bandits forcibly to extort money from the cotton mill.

In crucial times like this, Ip Man decided to train Chow’s cotton mill workers how to defend themselves against Master Jin. Once again, Master Jin was defeated along with his accomplices.

On the other hand, General Miura seemingly to have grown impatience and wants to challenge Ip Man that he sent his men to look for his whereabouts. The Japanese soldiers threaten Chow to tell him or he will kill everyone. Ip Man appeared in time and told Chow to do a favor by sending his family to Hong Kong.

Ip Man was arrested and General Miura shows his gratitude about how he was impressed by Ip Man’s martial arts and wanted him to teach his military. He denied the offer and the next day he is to fight to death with General Miura.

General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) vs. Ip Man

The fast and furious Ip Man defeated General Miura despite being warned by Colonel Sato that if he defeat the general in public – he will shoot him in public. Ip Man was shot on the shoulder falling down to the ground. The following scene sees Ip Man survived and reached Hong Kong.

Reviewer’s Note:
Ip Man like the film title is based loosely on the legendary Wing Chun’s martial artist who is the mentor of  Bruce Lee, when he brought Wing Chun to Hollywood and impressing the westerners.

Ip Man was finally put into film after getting approval from his family members.

Ip Man tells a story of a humble man and his family yet the fight scenes are just part of the excitement to attract people. Ip Man’s personality is rather simple and often avoid troubles as possible. He has shown his moral values towards his friends and family which seems to promote the Chinese culture of respecting the elders and so forth.

And to let the world know what is Wing Chun. Like the film, Ip Man do not accept disciples because he is afraid if people misuse his martial arts for the sake of getting into trouble and having fights which could damage his family name, master name and also reputation.

This is a beautiful biopic film that one must watch! Absolutely brilliant film!

2 responses to “Ip Man (2008) – REVIEW

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