Monday, January 28, 2013

Ip Man

***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!

Ip Man – 3 out of 5

Bruce Lee was a badass. That’s not conjecture but a world wide fact with evidence to back it up. It’s like evolution; there’s tons of evidence and if you deny it, you’re probably too stupid to understand the facts to begin with. So what about the man who taught Bruce Lee; he must have been basically a god that no man would dream of fucking with. Okay, he wasn’t quite like that but he still was pretty cool…but not a movie star like Lee was.

Nor a crying wimp like this guy.

Ip Man is a biopic and is loosely based on the life of Yip Man, the trainer of Bruce Lee and a grandmaster of the martial art style Wing Chun. The film centers around Ip Man (another way to spell Yip Man—according to Wikipedia and is played by Donnie Yen) in the city of Foshan in the 1930s when the Sino-Japanese War started and Japan invaded China. Man was a well respected martial arts teacher and lived a life of luxury until he was forced from his home and exiled into poverty and trying to earn a living at menial labor. Man discovers that the head General in his area; General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), is having martial arts teachers battle his men for scraps of food and, after witnessing the death of another teacher, politely (and politely I mean with a lot of punching and kicking) hands the men their asses. The General becomes obsessed with Ip Man and desires for him to teach his soldiers Chinese martial arts but Man refuses. Eventually, Man is captured by Miura and the two men engage in a battle of honor. 

"'sup, bro!"

Ip Man went on to inspire a nation but, more importantly, created Bruce Lee (who sadly ended up creating Chuck Norris but no man is perfect). However, the film is based on a true story and, in the movie world that means we took some liberties with reality— and by liberties; we mean we straight up made a lot of shit up. Ip Man is no exception as Yip Man was actually a police officer when the Japanese invaded and remained one for awhile after the war started until they eventually grew tired of his wealth and political affiliation and he voluntarily exiled himself to Hong Kong. Finally, the climax of the film—where Ip Man and General Miura battle for honor in an epic showdown of martial arts superiority—yeah, that never actually happened.

"Take that air!"

But I’m not watching this for historical accuracy, I’m watching this to see a man chop punks in the face and possibly some nut-punching in there as well. And this movie gives it to you. The fight choreography is great and very fast pace but with some wire-work, bad sound and some downright silly elements in those fights, it can quickly render some of the best fight scenes into accidental comedy sequences.  Granted the wire-work is at a bare minimum in this film (Ip isn't running on top of trees here) but the very, very, very few instances of it makes the fight that just occurred downright silly.  For example, the teacher who ultimately loses his life gets kicked in the chest and falls to the ground slow enough where he can push himself back to a vertical position with a well-timed punch to the ground.  This becomes even more hysterical when you realize his fall is so slow he has enough time to turn his head around, look at the floor, ponder slowly about his options before he decides that, like all other things in this film, the only solution to get back upright involves punching.

And it involves shooting laser beams out of one's eyes like this girl is attempting to do.

While the fights look great they quickly get bogged down with some amazingly awful sound effects that are not only poorly mixed into the soundtrack but just don’t sound like punches and kicks. The punches actually sound like someone wailing on a snare drum that is about to rip apart and this analogy makes perfect sense when you see the cartoonish rapid-fire, machine gun punches Ip Man breaks out in every fight. While on the surface these barrages of flying fists looks cool, the second or third time you see it just starts to look silly—especially when the sound from their impact sounds like Neil Peart wailing away on his gigantic drum set that contains, according to legend, at least 500 cymbals.

A punch didn't cause this...Peart's epic drum skills did.

Then there’s the poor mixing of the drum/punch sound-effects. This may sound incredibly nit-picky but it seems the sound editor hates speakers or owns stock in a speaker company and is out to destroy your television’s speakers and/or your surround sound system. The dialogue is very quiet and then a fight scene occurs and the punches quickly turn up to “fuck yo speakers” level and all you hear is the speakers popping from the poor balance. And it’s not like I was watching a shitty DVD rip from a torrent site (that would be illegal and I’m appalled that you would think I would do that) but a actually DVD from Netflix (I’m still waiting for my money from all the name dropping I do for you, Netflix). I realize this is an insanely specific critique of the film but no DVD, while watching at a level where you can actually hear the actors speak, should cause your television to blow up because of bad sound effects and an inability to have normal audio levels throughout the film.

Yip Man can fly too...also he's the lost son of Krypton.

Ip Man isn’t a terrible film; the story is solid and inspiring (despite most of it being a total work of fiction) and the fight scenes are cool and fast pace (despite the fact they get silly when the E. Honda style fists of fury start and the ear-bleeding inducing bad sound hits). Sure the movie has its shortcomings like the fact that a majority of the characters are in no way developed or, sometimes, even adequately established and the sound is outright awful (remember, bleeding ears) but the good qualities are enough to keep the movie a decent martial arts film, albeit with limited re-watchability (which is totally a word).

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