Bruce Lee Mentor Ip Man Gets His Own Kickass Movie


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 Lee’s 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 Yip’s 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 also—after 1937’s Japanese occupation, which leaves Ip and his countrymen destitute—a 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, Yip’s 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 Yen’s awe-inspiring skills, which, in choreographer Sammo Hung’s thrilling one-against-many skirmishes, make literal the term “fists of fury.”