Ip Man 2: Blu-ray & DVD

Thursday, 10 March 2011 00:00

Donnie Yen explodes back onto our screens as Ip Man, aka Bruce Lee’s real-life martial arts master and chief Wing Chun exponent. Following events from the first movie (reviewed here), Master Ip and his impoverished family move to post-WW2 Hong Kong. He struggles to establish interest in his new kung fu school until a cheeky would-be student (Huang Xiao Ming) challenges Ip to a fight. Naturally, Ip wins and soon the lad, his friends and then their friends sign up.

Success brings Ip’s business to the attention of rival clubs and their masters, particularly the underhand and much feared Master Hong (Samo Hung – Martial Law, “Dragons Forever”), who oversees all of the region’s schools and acts as liaison to the Imperialist ruling class. Their schools’ rivalry grows ever more heated and violent, but an even greater threat stands before them in the shape of the bigoted, occupying Westerners.

Ip Man 2 comes to Blu-ray and DVDThose fans who have seen the first film will recognise the fact that the story and issues underpinning “Ip Man 2” are partially reheated and not as interesting or stimulating as before. This movie is much more of a “by the numbers” affair, and the plot (bearing the “them versus us” theme of “Rocky IV”) feels like an excuse to have lots of fights and stoke up national pride. Having said that, the fights are tremendous, though possibly not quite as thrilling as in part one.

The best rumble takes place in Master Hong’s fish market, with Ip and his top student fending off waves of armed assailants with the cunning use of a wooden pallet! Master Ip also gets to show off his remarkable abilities when challenged by all of the other masters to stay perched on a small table top whilst they take it in turns to knock him off. They light an incense stick as a crude timer, and he earns the right to run his school if he can remain aloft by the time it has burned down.

As Ip Man, Yen maintains the same strong, stoical, respectable aura and is a rock onto which others either latch on or bounce off, depending on their level of stupidity. With the exception of Samo Hung and Ip’s wife (Lynn Hung), the rest of the cast play their characters in a less subtle fashion, from the hot-headed students, right up to the hilariously over-the-top evil Westerners. Standing head and shoulders above them all is Darren Shahlavi (Santuary, Kano in the up-and-coming Mortal Kombat TV series) as English World Boxing Champion Twister Taylor. From his interview in one of the extras, it is plain that Shahlavi is a pleasant, down-to-earth kind of guy, but it seems that director Wilson Yip (“Flash Point”, “Dragon Tiger Gate”) actively encouraged him to play Taylor as the most testosterone-fuelled, racist meat-head the world has ever seen. In my view he goes way too far, as although the character is supposed to stoke up sympathy for the Chinese and the hope that they are avenged, his absurd, pumped-up performance leaves the audience in hysterics.

In summary, I would definitely recommend “Ip Man 2” to fans of the first movie and martial arts fans in general. Do not expect the same level of historical attention to detail or emotional depth as last time and you will have a ball.

Both release formats come stuffed to the gills with extras, including a dozen interviews, a making-of, another audio commentary by genre expert Bey Logan, three documentaries dedicated to the Wing Chun martial art devised and practised by Master Ip, and more. I was surprised and delighted to see Phil Morris actively (and passionately) presenting some of the kung fu master classes; Smallville fans will recognise him as the Martian Manhunter John Jones! The DVD version reviewed had decent picture quality, though if “Ip Man” was anything to go by, the Blu-ray edition probably justifies the extra expense to bring out the detail of the sets.

“Ip Man 2” (2010) is out now, courtesy of Cine Asia. The main feature has a running time of 104 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £17.99 on DVD (2 discs), £24.99 on Blu-ray (1 disc) or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

denizli escort denizli escort