IP Man (2008)
Written by Edmond Wong
Directed by Wilson Yip
Starring Donnie Yen, Siman Yam, Siu-Wong Fan, Ka Tung Lam
In the early 20th Century, Master Ip is the preeminent martial artist of his city. Once the Japanese invade, he's relegated to working in labor camps--his house is the one usurped for use as the Japanese military HQ--until he is challenged by that military to fight. This is apparently adjacent to a true story.
i specifically put this on the queue for moster. the fight sequences in the trailer impressed me, so i knew they would interest him. this was pretty much a kung fu movie, but with a WWII theme. you know, avenge and defend. i can dig. he was a pretty cool guy. and like i said, the fight sequences were choreographed really well. apparently it's a true story....mostly likely -ish. they've made a sequel, and i don't think i can dig because the ending was pretty clear in this. so there may never be an ip man2 review on this thing. we'll see.....
This was better than I expected, but I can't help feeling that it's more than a little romanticized. Aside from the obvious question (If Wing Chun is so awesome how come he's the only practitioner, let alone the only master?), there are some other practical matters to ignore. But it's a legend, so whatever. It's a little more interesting how given that the character is such a revered figure he doesn't always fight honorably. I think this is because he's fighting the invading force and is supposed to be a badass, but it's hard to respect someone who will kill a foot soldier after he's tapped out.
That said, it's possible to ignore the plot enough to enjoy the rest of the production. Yen plays Ip as a cool, reserved customer even when he's lost control, and the choreography is enjoyable. Production value in general is quite pleasing and provides a polished aesthetic.
I'd say it's worth it for the fighting, but you can fast forward or glaze over the interstitial parts.