IP Man (2008) Film Review


I am somewhat confused about why this film is called Ip Man, given that it is a film based loosely on part of the life of a man called Yip Man. Was it by removing the ‘Y’ at the start of his name that changed it enough to be somewhat non-fiction? Although his son was a consultant and is in the film, so it cannot have been to avoid offending the family. A very brief internet research session has resulted in no answers, so in lazy fashion, I’ve given up on finding out more.

Yip Man was a grandmaster of the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun in the region of Foshan. The film takes place in the years leading up to the Sino-Japanese War and the time when the Japanese controlled Foshan. Yip Man was the leading grandmaster of the area, but his independent wealth meant that he did not need to take students. After the invasion, his wealth has gone and he must work in a coal mine to provide for his family. The local Japanese general knows of the reputation of Foshan as a centre of martial arts training, and rewards those who fight either his soldiers or himself with rice. It is a violent and bloody time, but Yip Man will not sacrifice his morals.

The film is a lot slower than I had anticipated, but the plot is very strong and the story totally compelling. When the fighting happens, it is often very graphic and violent, but not flashy like many modern films. To know that the story is based on truth gives it a lot more weight. There are four films about Yip Man currently out, another to be released this year, and several more are rumoured to be in pre-production. There must be a lot more of this story to be told. I can’t wait.

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