IP MAN 2 – Review

Like the first Ip Man movie, it took a long time for me to to review this sequel.  The original Ip Man movie was so dramatically different than other ‘martial arts’ movies, that I am tempted to re-classify it outside of that genre.  However both that movie and this one have enough martial arts action, brand specific, no less, that we have to view them as a much better than average films in that genre.

Like everybody, my expectations were high going in to seeing this movie.  We had a one week showing at a local theatre which shows indie films, art house films and other small budget movies.

The movie opened with promise in a scene set at Yip Man’s crude roof-top wing chun school in his early Hong Kong days, right around 1949.  They introduced some now-famous Yip Man students in an entertaining sequence on how Yip Man convinced his would-be students that he was the real deal and could teach them a thing or two.  After this, they became his loyal students.

Production values were equally high as the first movie.  The first movie, however, exhausted the story line of the Japanese occupation.  This is a universal theme of the occupation of a nation by an enemy and evokes a lot of sympathy in the viewer.  This time, the theme was the British ownership of Hong Kong during this time frame, casting them as the villains this time or at least the individual characters in this movie.

Some classic rival martial arts school scenarios ensue, resulting in the discovery that Yip Man is teaching “without permission” according to the local head of the martial arts association.  Yip Man decides to try and follow their rules, at least for now, by accepting challenges.

The main story line gradually changes to the match being staged between a very big and successful British boxer versus a Chinese challenger.   It becomes the challenge between the Chinese “sick man of Asia” and the hated foreigner.

IP MAN 2 does not have the same emotional heft as the first one to westerners.  However the presence of Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung as Mrs. Yip and Sammo Hung as Master Hong Zhen Nan ads the familiarity movie fans need.

One final note, this sequel had a little more wire-work than I like to see.

3 ½ stars out of five.