Kung Fu Fridays: Ip Man

When people think of Martial Arts they mostly think of Bruce Lee. Forty years after his death at the all-too-young age of thirty two, Lee remains the face of Martial Arts. Such is the power of his brand for lack of a better term. And to be fair, it is mostly deserved. Lee was incredible. There is no denying the skill at which he practiced Martial Arts. Watching any of Lee’s numerous films well, the proof as they say is in the pudding. But this article isn’t about Bruce Lee. Rather it is about the man who trained Bruce Lee. That man, Yip Man, is a legend throughout Hong Kong and one of the most famous teachers of Wing Chun in history. The movie based on his life is billed as a biopic presumably because billing a film as a biopic with liberties taken aplenty isn’t as easy to sell. Regardless, that film, Ip Man, is astonishing and worth your time.

Ip Man was released in 2008 and directed by Wilson Yip. It starred Donnie Yen and had its fights choreographed by Sammo Hung. The plot of the film follows the life of Yip Man during the second Japanese-Sino War. Yip is shown to be a quiet local hero who enjoys his time with his family and his money. When the Japanese invade, Yip is forced to fight for the amusement of the Japanese military. His skills are so amazing that the generals want him to teach Wing Chun to their soldiers. Yip, as one can imagine, refuses, setting up the rest of the story. Now, the story shown here is not entirely historical. Ip Man as a film is nationalistic pandering of the highest order and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Many biographic films exaggerate the heroic or villainous deeds of their subjects. However, as a work of historical fiction, it is fabulous. The fighting in this movie is simply stunning. Donnie Yen is an incredible Martial Artist and he does some of his best work in this film. Most of the fights are of the “one against many” variety and Yen does an amazing job in these scenes. There is a grace and fluidity to his movements that is second to none. That the fights come off as believable is a testament to the quality of film making. There is nothing quite ground breaking here, just very solid action movie work. 

The life of Yip Man has been made into a film or TV show multiple times. The story is compelling, even if it isn’t entirely true all the time. This film, and its first sequel, are a good time for those of us looking for a kick ass Kung Fu flick. The third in the trilogy seemed like padding to be honest and felt a bit phoned in. There are better historical accounts of the Sino-Japanese war but let’s be honest, that’s not what you are here for. You’re here for action and this film has that in spades. Check out the trailer below, and as a bonus some footage of the real Yip Man, and then head here to check out the full flick. (careful of the popups) Make sure to follow me on twitter, @geekadedan, and let me know what you thought of Ip Man. And make sure to check back here next week as we take a look at another classic Kung Fu flick. Until then…

Dan Ryan

Dan Ryan was once the most feared and respected luchador in the world until the "Great DDT Disaster of '85" where Dan unfortunately DDT'd his opponent so hard into the ground that he opened a gate to the underworld that let unholy things into this world. After that, Dan refused to wrestle anymore but he's found new life writing and talking about his favorite hobbies here at Geekade. He pens the weekly Why I Love Wrestling series, co-hosts The Stone Age Gamer Podcast, expertly pairs video games with beer, and much, much more. Dan is a personality that Geekade simply would not be the same without.

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