Saturday, 11 July 2015

Ip Man (5 Stars)

This is the third time I've watched this film. In fact, my personal definition of a good film is "a film that I want to watch at least three times". "Ip Man" is growing on me, and I enjoy it more each time I watch it.

I wrote about the plot in my last review, so this time I'll just make a few extra points.

Donnie Yen is always a good actor, but he's never been as convincing as in this film, playing a martial arts expert who doesn't want to fight. This isn't just apparent in his words. Even in his first fight he relies on defensive moves, only hitting back when absolutely necessary. Ip Man was a man of wealth who spent his life relaxing with his family and studying. He would probably never have become a teacher if he hadn't lost all his money in the Japanese invasion.

Today I listened to Donnie's interview about the film for the first time. He spent eight months learning Wing Chun in preparation for the film. That's dedication. He also lost a lot of weight, I forget how much, so that he would look like Ip Man in his old photos. He only ate one meal a day, and some days he even skipped this meal, despite his intensive training. Was this even healthy? Probably not, but the end results were astounding.

Donnie Yen was originally asked to play the part of Ip Man in 1998, but there was a long delay in making the film because of legal battles. Two different studios wanted to make a film about Ip Man, and each wanted the exclusive rights. In the end both studios made a film. The first was "Ip Man" (2008) and the other was "The Grandmaster" (2013). Two very different films with very different actors. Both are good, in their own ways, but in a direct comparison "Ip Man" is far superior.

From the way the film is structured it seems that no sequel was planned. The film's financial success led to the making of "Ip Man 2" in 2010, which I shall probably watch again soon. A third film is planned to be released in 2016, also starring Donnie Yen, making it a trilogy. "Ip Man 3" has already generated controversy by announcing that it will star Bruce Lee as a CGI-generated character. I hope that they don't skimp on costs. This sort of strategy could turn out really good or really bad.

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