Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Ip Man 2 (5 Stars)

They say that the difference between a serious film fan and someone who just watches movies is that the serious fan watches films in foreign languages with subtitles. As a generalisation that's pretty good. A casual film fan who only watches whatever the television throws at him and goes to the cinema for purely social reasons will never want to read subtitles. It demands a level of concentration that only a serious film fan would invest. Someone like me.

Anyone not used to foreign films might think that subtitled films are arty. That's not necessarily the case. It's an unfair prejudice to think that big action films are only made in America. "Ip Man 2" is a big budget action film that can stand up to American competition in its thrills and cinematic quality. There are a few countries where films are made with large budgets, in particular Germany, China and Japan.

So-called serious film fans look down on the dubbing of foreign films into English. I understand them. Most of the dubbed films I've watched have voices that sound dull and lifeless. That isn't because dubbing is bad in principle, it's because it's done so poorly. If more money were invested it would sound better. I lived in Germany for many years. In German cinemas the majority of the films shown are from other countries, and almost all of them are dubbed. Yet they sound good. What's the difference? In Germany film dubbing is a big industry. Famous film and theatre actors are hired to dub foreign roles. They spend time reading and re-reading the scripts, getting to know the character they are speaking for and understanding his or her motivation. The end result is amazing. If America (and England) invested more money in dubbing, subtitles would be less necessary.

"Ip Man" was made in 2008 and "Ip Man 2" in 2010. There were initially no plans to make a third film. The actor who plays Ip Man, Donnie Yen, was opposed to it, because he thought the two films were so good by themselves that a third film would only lower the standard. He's been persuaded to make one last film. "Ip Man 3" will be released on December 25th, 2015. I hope it won't be a disappointment. I'll let you know when I see it.

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