Friday, March 8, 2013

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Or we can go out to the garage and practice karate.

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster – 3 out of 5

Yip Man, as I explained in my review of the first film, was the man who ended up creating the legendary ass-kicker Bruce Lee. After the first film took some liberties with the man’s story a sequel was produced in 2010 to take some more liberties…and also show that martial arts masters can defy physics and are borderline superheroes.

"Round two, bitches!"

And that man's future lineage is destroyed in
a single moment.
 Ip Man 2 takes place when Yip (Donnie Yen) moves to the British colony ruled Hong Kong in hopes of starting up a martial arts school. He’s forced to prove himself to the masters of the other schools and, after doing so, he soon realizes that the masters and the schools are overseen by a martial arts mob boss; Master Hun Chun-Nam (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo). Master Chun-Nam not only demands a protection fee from Yip but is also having dealings with the local British rule for a boxing /martial arts match—which he promptly gets screwed over by the local Superintendent (Charles Mayer). After all hell breaks loose at the boxing match, Master Chun-Nam battles the boxer Twister (Darren Shahlavi) for the disrespect the man showed towards his art and culture but proves to be too old and in ill health to fight. Twister kills the martial arts master and it’s now up to Yip to avenge the man and put the cocky fighter in his place.

The key to any martial arts:  Using a fat baby as a human shield.

I actually found myself enjoying this one a little more than the first film. Both movies are entertaining to watch but each one had some issues that kept it from being anything but middle-of-the-road for me. As I said in my review of the first film my biggest problem of the movie was the bad sound quality and some of the fights—although cool—looked silly at points. Well, the good news is the sound is far more balanced in this one (although the rapid punches still sounds like Neil Peart wailing away on his drums) but some of the fights are still really silly—although still cool at points.

"These are quality knives.  I would hate for them to slice you up if you don't buy them."

Like the previous film, this movie is loosely based on Yip’s actual life but, it’s clear, that the liberties were taken for the martial arts because, like I said, these guys are borderline superheroes. They move at inhuman speeds, have balance that can only be attributed to being connected to a wire (*wink wink*) or as if gravity no longer applies to them and are capable of nearly achieving flight from a standing position.

"A guy my size should not be able to do this!"

While this occasionally happens in a fight scene these sequences are mostly pretty awesome and amazingly choreographed. That is until the superpowers kick in and a story that should be grounded in reality since it’s based on the guy who inspired Bruce Lee suddenly becomes a fantasy film about martial arts masters who are able to alter physics and spin tables with their feet in mid-air all the while controlling their bodies to move through the air through seemingly sheer force of will like they’re fucking Superman.

Are you happy to see me, piece of inanimate wood meant for training martial artists?

One thing I really found to be a great improvement in this film is the fact that the overall appearance of the movie seems to be of a higher quality. The movie’s camera work was pretty dynamic with the viewpoint constantly circling the action and getting right in the middle of the goings-on. The previous film, for the most part, had a very static camera that watched the action while this one seemed to be more a part of the action.

"Whoa, you almost hit me...again!  I'm starting to think you're actually trying to
do harm to me."

A young Hugo Weaving apparently played the boxer.
 Like its predecessor, Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster isn’t amazingly awesome but it’s not terrible either. It has its problems like some really cheesy acting from the British characters (who go from zero to overdramatic in 1.2 seconds), a simple and ridiculously formulaic and predictable story (not to mention the whole aspect of Yip wanting to have a school and deal with a corrupt teacher out for protection money is completely thrown out the window for a revenge match) and some of the fight scenes are hard to not laugh at. However, the movie is decent in the fact that the story, while simplistic and slightly sloppy, does its job well and when I didn’t find the fights silly, the choreography to them was amazing. Just like the first film, this movie doesn’t do much to stand-out among other martial arts films (other than the fact it’s about the guy who taught Bruce Lee all he knows) but it doesn’t do much to make it a complete waste either.

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