Like the ancient martial art of Wing Chun, “Ip Man 2” delivers a simple yet upbeat kung fu flick filled with eclectic action and an arousing sense of Chinese pride.
The film begins with Ip Man (Donnie Yen), a humble Wing Chun grandmaster, establishing the first Wing Chun school in 1950s Hong Kong. When other kung fu instructors challenge his martial arts skills, he must prove his worth before joining their fight against the corrupt British government of Hong Kong.
Hitting generic themes of government corruption and honor, “Ip Man 2” is all too familiar with the antics of many kung fu teacher-student films. Though the film is the first to depict the real-life story of Ip Man, its final fight scene with the British boxer Twister is stylistically identical to Jet Li’s against Tanaka in “Fearless.” The film also fails to make Ip Man — Bruce Lee’s real-life Wing Chun teacher — stand apart from a host of other famous martial artists like Huo Yuanjia.
While the safe plot follows genre conventions, the film is still an entertaining experience. The film’s brilliant and steady pacing keeps the audience engaged, and its complementary action progresses the historical narrative.
While “Ip Man 2” may not bring anything new to the table, there is rarely a dull moment. With an element of drama in every scene, it is a solid and classic tale that undoubtedly entertains and will drop-kick digits at the box office.
“Ip Man 2” was written by Edmond Wong and directed by Wilson Yip.
2.5 out of 4 stars