“I Wish To Fight Ten Men.”
The list of films that can completely pull me in and make me forget about the entire world is short, but the film near the top of that list is 2008’s Ip Man. I know what you’re thinking: a kung fu movie? One of those films that features countless fight sequences with amazing and almost always obvious fake moves has that much of an impact on you? Yes, I’d say in reply, absolutely.
Ip Man is no ordinary kung fu film. For starters, it’s loosely based on the real life of Ip Man, a grandmaster of the martial art known as Wing Chun. Ip Man influenced and taught many notable practitioners of Wing Chun including Bruce Lee. The film shows a portion of Ip Man’s life in Foshan and how that life goes from one of prosperity to one of despair after the Japanese invasion in 1937 at the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Under the oppression of the Japanese forces, the people of Foshan are forced to fight for the entertainment of General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi). Many of these fights end in the death of the Foshan fighter, but Miura shows respect to many of the fighters who either A) show tenacity and courage or B) are willing to take him on as a challenger.
As the film rolls along it introduces us to a number of characters who, through the brilliant direction of Wilson Yip, the strong performances by the actors, and the excellent writing by Edmond Wong and Chan Tai-Lee, become champions or villains in the viewer’s mind. I quickly became attached to a number of the characters and hoped that a few of them would change sides during the film. Some of them had only brief roles, but their performances were amazing.
Donnie Yen stars as Ip Man and takes the film to another level with his performance. He portrays Ip Man as a likeable and decent person who eventually has to take on General Miura in order to inspire his people. Lynn Hung portrays Ip Man’s wife, Cheung Wing-sing, who loves him deeply but is quick to keep him grounded and lifts him up when needed. Tenma Shibuya portrays Colonel Sato, easily the most hated man in the film. He’s Miura’s second in command and does terrible things to the people of Foshan.
Of special note are the performances of Chen Zhihui as Master Liu and Fan Siu-wong as Kam Shan-chu. These two actors have small but important roles in the film. Zhihui in particular delivers a powerful performance, and despite being somewhat of a villain, I cheered on Kam Shan-chu as well, hoping that he would become a friend and ally of Ip Man.
This film had multiple “Rocky moments” in my opinion. Like the Rocky films, Ip Man inspires the viewer to cheer for the hero and boo the villain. It drums up massive amounts of patriotism as well (and I am not Chinese in any way, shape, or form). Ip Man is a hero that anybody can get behind, and the execution of that role is perfect by Donnie Yen in this film. The only major difference between this film and the Rocky movies is that this one has a real hero in it who actually existed.
If you’re in need of an inspiring film that features well developed characters, a solid plot, and wonderful performances all around, check out Ip Man. It triggered multiple emotions inside of me and left me wanting more of Ip Man’s story. Three sequels have been made and I haven’t seen any of them, so look forward to my review of those films in the near future.
Ip Man is also one of the few films that my son sat down and watched with me in its entirety. He never checked his phone or played any of his video games nor did he even talk during the film (although he did cheer a few times). This movie is amazing, and it deserves to be seen.
Thanks for checking out my latest Throwback Thursday post. I plan on having a Classic Horror post this weekend!