Monday, April 2, 2012

IP Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010)

IP Man is now in Hong Kong to start a martial arts school.  A British boxer is looking to rough up the locals and Chinese Rocky IV is upon us!  Donnie Yen reprises his role and does a terrific job.  I believe he did better in the original but that’s due to a more in depth story.  He still does great though; I’d hate to make it sound like he dropped off which he didn't.

Needed more of Fan Siu-Wong
                The fight scenes get more outrageous in sole comparison to the first movie.  The fights are longer and it felt more often than before.  There was a sort of Jackie Chan prop related goofiness to some of the fights that felt too silly for the world of IP Man.  I also loved to see Kam Shanzhao back and a married man at that!  He bailed out his buddy Master IP from jail early on in the movie in quite a hilarious scene.  Yes they’re friends now!  We don’t get to see him fight this time around and that’s really a shame.  He provides great comedy support and he’s sorely missed as his screen time is less.

                He opens his school on a roof with his first pupil being an arrogant young man named Wong Leung.  This person insists on fighting IP Man to beat him but fails embarrassingly.  The way IP Man toys with him is funny to laugh at.  He eventually begs IP Man to be his master.  Things go well at first until his “not so bright” pupil starts trouble with another martial arts school led by Hung Chun-nam (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo).  IP Man is informed his foolish pupil is being held captive by the opposing school.  He heads down to a fishing market to retrieve him when the other school attacks him.  It seems like such disrespect to assault a master with no knowledge of whom he is or where he is from.  That’s when IP Man, his pupil and for comedic purposes Kam get’s arrested.  Kam was trying to stop the fight and ends up getting thrown in jail as well. 

Earning passage in Hong Kong
                This leads to the “table fight” with the other masters in Hong Kong.  Master IP proves himself but declines to join the club due to not wanting to give money to support a man’s gain.  He believes in what Chinese Martial Arts really is, teaching your pupils the right way in life.  Master IP has a horrible feeling of remorse for his friend Chow Ching-chuen, the man who owned the mill back in Foshan, who was shot in the head and left with memory loss and brain damage.  You can feel his pain as he interacts with and even pays for a chicken his friend stole, considering Master IP is broke.  I wish more scenes of those two were in the film.  It gets emotional as IP Man watches a man who was once someone who aided him in his desperate time before.   

I'm too old to finish this movie, avenge me!
                Let’s introduce the boxer named, The Twister, who is as smug and arrogant a man can be.  He arrives to Hong Kong to flaunt his western boxing style and it’s superiority to eastern fighting.  After the first scene with this guy you know he’s the villain and all you want from then on is for IP Man to beat this guy into submission.  Twister ends up killing Hung Chun-nam, the leader if you will of the schools in Hong Kong.  IP Man watched as the boxer downed his Chinese comrade.  Hung Chun-nam won Master IP’s respect by fighting for Chinese martial arts and not standing for Twister mocking it.

Muscle head vs. A Legend
                The funeral scene was touching as you could feel the Chinese spirit for what they believed in.  Master IP obviously challenges Twister in a media circus in which the boxer adds fuel to the fire with more mockery of the Chinese culture.  The final fight is typical as IP Man gets pummeled by the boxer in the early going and told he can’t kick.  He gets beat on more after that before he decides to use those quick hands of his to decimate Twister.  He spares his life as the good guy he is and gives a short somewhat disappointing speech about change.  At the very end a special guest appears before Master IP in demand to be taught.  His name is Bruce Lee but he is told to come back when he grows up.

                The movie is far more predictable than the original which deflates the fun of watching it for the first time.  I believe a bit too much fighting took the screen time.  Added character development or some back story could have filled in those scenes nicely but alas this is a martial arts film after all.  It’s a solid film but I feel that too much was being crammed into a small movie time frame.  It’s possible the film makers wanted to attempt to outperform the previous movie instead of focusing on creating something new with similar characters.  If you enjoy martial arts in any way this is a good one to watch.

                Rating: 8 of 10

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