By Calum Marsh
By Michelle Orange
By Michael Atkinson
By Simon Abrams
By Zachary Wigon
By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
Legend trumps fact in Ip Man, a kickass fictionalized biopic of the titular grandmaster of Wing Chun martial arts and mentor to Bruce Lee. Hong Kong star Donnie Yen certainly proves a worthy heir to Lees throne, bringing a calm and humility to Ip that enhances the grand precision and potency of his lightning-quick fighting techniques. Set during the 1930s in the southern city of Foshan, Wilson Yips film (which has already spawned a sequel in China) is driven by nationalist pride, casting its subject as not only a protector of comrades reputations, but alsoafter 1937s Japanese occupation, which leaves Ip and his countrymen destitutea noble defender of Chinese honor. Forced into conflict with xenophobic Japanese General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), Ip recognizes and embraces the civic duty his combat acumen requires, strengthening the citizenry both physically and spiritually by passing down his kung-fu wisdom. Like his narrative, Yips aesthetics are more muted and traditional than those of well-known florid imports Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yet such modesty is in tune with his soft-spoken protagonist, and also provides clean, sharp views of Yens awe-inspiring skills, which, in choreographer Sammo Hungs thrilling one-against-many skirmishes, make literal the term fists of fury.
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