'Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster' Review
If it's Biographical, Why Isn't it Historically Accurate?
When we hear the words 'biographical' or 'true story,' we instantly think the movie will be historically correct in every facet. Hollywood would never have any film's if that were the case. The words 'loosely based on' are often overlooked when the die-hard fans of a story come-a-knocking. I think it's important to embellish stories like these if it makes the movie better, scarier or more exciting. Such is the case with Ip Man when I cruise around the internet to research films. I see lots of commentary surrounding these films based on the Wing Chun Grandmaster's life. Some are disappointed in the inaccuracies, but I wasn't. This is an awesome film and if you haven't seen it, you must.
The Ip Man trilogy of films are a cracking good time. With the original star Donnie Yen at the steering wheel, and some martial arts versus boxing fight scenes, how can you go wrong?
See here my review on the first film in the franchise— Ip Man.
Quick Film Information
How Was It?
At the conclusion of the previous film, Ip Man was in a bad way. Having just been shot, he fled with his family to Hong Kong. Edmond Wong wrote the screenplay and wanted the underlying story to be about how the Chinese people were treated. Therefore, many Westerners in Ip Man 2 are portrayed poorly with regards to their attitudes. Their negative opinions are exaggerated to highlight the views of some traditions. The views of martial arts as a whole are looked down on.
The sequel opens with Ip Man and his now pregnant wife living in Hong Kong. Ip dreams of again teaching Wing Chun. The family have no money and live a frugal life which makes his wife really happy. It's the happiest I have seen her so far. Her husband isn't fighting and spends time with them. I guess that's what she always wanted.
It doesn't take long to lead into some combat that increases in numbers with each challenge. Of course, with each fight Ip Man wins, his status as unbeatable leads him to gain the students he desired and the status he deserves within the community.
The fight ensembles in this action-packed film head quickly towards a fight between Ip Man during a special ceremony where he must take on as many opponents as necessary before the incense burns out. It's during this endurance ceremony that we see Ip Man draw in a fight between himself and a handful of challengers while standing on top of a round table in the middle of the room. The table is surrounded by upturned chairs resembling a tiny island. It was so astonishing with its choreography that I was unable to take my eyes off the screen. Sometimes I get a little bored with action flicks, but this one is entertaining and never too heavy handed with the fight sequences. They never seem too long nor too short before returning to some drama or giving you more information on the characters within its structure.
Similar to the original movie, the sequel lends a deft hand to an in-depth and thought-provoking story about morals, etiquette, and pride. It's one aspect of many Asian foreign films that I never tire of. Maybe some see it as censorship or unrealistic, but I find it thoroughly refreshing and hope my kids will like them as much as I do, once they learn to read. I would like to watch it with them though, as Ip's treatment of his wife and kids, in general, is a little lax at times. His wife even decides against informing him she is in labor as it's more important for him to regain his status.
Did Ip Man Really Fight a Boxer?
The story introduces a Hong Kong police superintendent with a British-ish accent that's not only comedic but also sinister in its delivery. The writers wanted to portray how the Chinese were treated which is epitomized through Superintendent Wallace. Wallace has no honor, is greedy and pays no respect to any of the liabilities he creates. He champions an extremely unique villain in boxer Twister Miller. Through Twister's formidable and brutal character we see the strength of the people. They rise up against him and moral values are infused into the matches instigated by those that win and lose. The fights are organized and held in front of a mixed culture audience.
If you wanted to know whether the real Ip Man fought a boxer, the answer is no. He also was never employed working with coal as we see in this film. He was actually a police officer. However, what I did find interesting was that Ip Man did actually refuse to teach Wing Chun to the Japanese soldiers as we see in the first film, which caused him to flee to Hong Kong as we see here in this film. Irrespective, none of this trivia made me disappointed in the movie.
It's right at the end of the movie that we get a little bonus. A young Bruce Lee has sought out Ip Man and requests to be taught, Wing Chun, but if you want to know Ip Man's cheeky reply, said in the mild restraint of Donny Yen, then you will have to watch it for yourself.
I give Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster
4.5 Donny Yens out of 5.
Questions & Answers
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