Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Ip Man

More than likely, not a single person reading this blog is going to know a lick about this movie. But often times, that does not mean that its not worth watching. A lot of smaller indie films have a lot to offer, not that this movie fits into that category. Since you know nothing about this film, I'm going to tell you a little secret, I didn't know anything about this movie either. All I knew was that it was a kung fu movie, and really, even bad kung fu movies are good.

So this movie took place in some province in China (probably northwest) in the early 1930s. Master Ip is a renowned martial arts master, who is very humble reserved. It seems that theme of most of these old chinese movies, kung fu isn't as much about the physical power and speed, but about the psychological control. Watching him, you can see how balanced he is at all points in time. Even when he fought. Never a break of sweat, everything is so intentional and methodical. All of the townspeople know of his greatness, but there are several other martial arts masters in town, all with schools.

Throughout the film, he shows his utter calmness and is very humble. He gives his friend money to start a cotton factory, and asks for nothing in return, and to pay him back when he can. Years go by and the Japanese invade. The town turns to shambles and everyone is poor. and he is too proud of a man to ask for any help.

Enough of the plot, I didn't watch this film because I thought it was going to be awe-inspiring or the film of 2009. I watched it because Kung Fu movies are the shizzy. The fight scenes are amazing. It seems that actual Chinese movies always do a better job of the choreography, maybe its because they don't have rules out there and they are actually beating the shit out of each other. I'm not sure exactly. At one point in the film, he's at a facility with Japanese solders who are studying kung fu and the General watches sparring matches. He is pissed off since he watched his friend die at the hands of the Japanese military, so he asks to take on 10 fighters. At the same time. One word, wow. He holds nothing back as he just destroys these poor oppressing souls. I'm not sure if you have seen Ong Bak before (see US title: The Protector) but its similar in nature of badassedness. I know its not a word, but it should be.

The final scene to the film was a little anti-climatic. The fight scene was good, he re-unites the Chinese and is a living legend to this day (he trained Bruce Lee among dozens of others), but I wanted more out of the fight. I guess when you have two very well trained Kung Fu masters, there isn't a lot of beating the crap out of each other because they are too good for that. A lot of defense and lack of hitting/blocking. But well done nevertheless. There was only one portion I didn't believe which seemed really odd.

SPOILER (He gets shot in the shoulder and passes out? He's too strong for that.)

All in all, I'd give it 2.5 out of 5 Manatees. You won't feel like you wasted your life, but its nothing to write home about.


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