Our story so far: the title character (played by Hong Kong martial arts maestro Donnie Yen) is the real-life martial Chinese arts teacher and proponent of Wing Chun style who was a hero during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria but is more famous to the western world for mentoring the young Bruce Lee.
Which is not to say that Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (Hong Kong, 2010), the sequel to the martial arts bio Ip Man, is docudrama or in any way biographically accurate. Set after the war, with Ip Man relocated to Hong Kong, it replaces the foreign devils that were the occupying Japanese Army with the colonial British foreign devils ruling Hong Kong in 1950 and sets the honorable sensei against a corrupt cabal of martial arts teachers lead by Sammo Hung (who is also the film’s fight choreographer) and a champion boxer called The Twister (Darren Shahlavi), a British brute with a powerful punch and a killer instinct. Master Ip doesn’t believe in grudge matches, but he will fight for national pride and honor in the inevitable East vs. West showdown.
It’s all quite predictable and conventional but for the fight scenes, which Hong Kong great Sammo Hung designs with the energy and invention that recalls the glory days of Hong Kong action cinema, from a street brawl that sets Master Ip against hordes of hoods to a one-on-one between Yen and Hung set on a round tabletop that spins and splits and splinters under their leaps and blows. This meeting of masters alone makes the film worth a look to any fan of martial arts cinema. Simon Yam has a brief appearance reprising his character from the first film, this time as a damaged casualty scraping by on the streets.
Rated R, in Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese with English subtitles
Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Fandango, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Ip Man 2 [Blu-ray]
Ip Man 2
Ip Man Trilogy [Blu-ray]
Ip Man Trilogy [DVD]
The DVD and Blu-ray are both released on single disc and two-disc sets, that latter with the usual making of featurette and deleted scenes, plus a short featurette on the film’s set design and locations and a brief “Shooting Diary,” all in Cantonese with English subtitles. The bulk of the second disc, however, is a collection of interviews with director Wilson Yip (the longest at almost 20 minutes) and most of the significant members of the cast, including Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Lynn Hung, Simon Yam, Louis Fan, Kent Cheng and Darren Shahlavi, to name just a few. The film is presented with the option of Cantonese, Mandarin or English dub soundtracks with optional English subtitles.