Ip Man 2 (Hong Kong 2010) - Review

Language - Cantonese, Mandarin
Genre - Action, Drama, Biography
Release -2010

Ip Man 2 - Release Poster
Donnie Yen as Ip Man
Having seen the stunning Hong Kong martial-arts blockbuster Ip Man last week, I was restless to watch the exploits of the Wing Chun master Ip Man in the sequel Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster, the second part of a planned trilogy. 

Due to the popularity and reputation of the 1st installment, Ip Man 2 easily surpassed the box-office performance of it's predecessor and became the highest grossing Hong-Kong movie at the time of it's release (beating the previous record held by Stephen Chow's Kung-Fu action-comedy Kung Fu Hustle). Though the film-makers wanted to base the sequel on the relationship between Ip Man and his most famous protege Bruce Lee, but due to the reluctance of Lee's family members', it was instead based on Ip Man's early years in Hong Kong.

Ip_Man2_Donnie-Yen and Sammo-Hung
Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen
Starting afresh in Hong Kong, Ip Man attempts to make a living by training young students Wing-Chun in a make-shift martial arts studio on the rooftop of a building. As he finally manages to get some students, he catches the attention of  a corrupt and greedy grandmaster  Hong (played by the legendary Sammo Hung; who also choreographed the fights). To get the permission to start a martial-arts club, Ip Man has to survive a fight with Master Hong till a lighted incense stick burns out, with their arena being a small teetering table-top. As with the prequel, the choreography of the fighting sequences are superlative. But they are also a little more extravagant, at the cost of realism. Though at logger-heads to begin with, they soon find mutual admiration when confronted with a racist white boxer 'Twister' and a corrupt British officer.

In Ip Man 2, fight against Japanese imperialism is replaced with the struggle for pride and dignity against the condescending British treatment of the Chinese.

Ip Man taking on Twister
The movie bears a strong resemblance with Rocky IV and the plot and the dialogues are extremely cliched. Sammo Hung gives a good serious performance as Master Hong, unlike the natural comical displays of his earlier movies. Donnie Yen is also more expressive but it's still his fighting skills that are the real charm. As generally observed in Asian movies, the 'white' characters are stereotypical and I found their performances too theatrical. But all being said, Ip Man 2 is still a solid follow up. The action sequences are more elaborate, and simply more grand. Unlike Ip Man, which made an attempt to balance martial-arts with human drama, Ip man 2 is unrestrained and relishes it's approach as an action entertainer. Bruce Lee's character makes a cameo at the end of the movie as a young kid who approaches Ip Man to learn Wing Chun. His motive -  "So that I could beat up people I don't like". Would Bruce Lee be part of the final chapter of the trilogy, I certainly hope so.