With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, June 05, 2009

ACF 313: Ip Man - a NYAFF preview review

Ip Man
Directed by Wilson Yip
Starring Donnie Yen, Simon Yam
Hong Kong, 2008 , 106 min
North American Premiere

Got a screener of this very fine, old school martial arts actioner that'll be shown at the New York Asian Film Festival, which starts in just two weeks. (Yeah!!!)

Director Yip (SLP, Flashpoint) does a fine job telling the story of Ip Man (played with great dignity by action vet Donnie Yen). Ip Man was a master of Wing Chun and is probably best known for being Bruce Lee's teacher.

The movie opens in 1935 in the town of Fushan where Ip Man is happily married with one young son, obviously is financially secure, and is far and away the greatest martial arts master around. He demonstrates his skill against both an honorable teacher and a crude dude from the sticks who wants to set up shop in Fushan, but gets his come-uppance instead.

Then the Japanese move in , and life in Fushan goes all to hell. Ip Man ultimately has to perform menial labor so that he and his family can survive. And of course, there's the inevitable face-off with a Japanese officer.

Sammo Hung served as action director and Tony Leung Siu Hung was the martial arts coodinator. Both did terrific jobs. Kenneth Mak did the art direction, and I can only assume that he deserves the credit for the magnificent set designs and decoration. If not him, kudos to whoever was responsible.

Ip Man is not quite as virulently anti-Japanese as Bruce Lee's Jing wu men (Fist of Fury is its Hong Kong English title, although it was released in the U.S. as The Chinese Connection) or Jet Li's Jing wu ying xiong (Fist of Legend). The ranking Japanese officer,for example, is not particularly vilified, although the same cannot be said for his second-in-command or for the despicable way the Japanese occupiers treated the Chinese.

The bottom line is that Ip Man is a terrific action movie, one of Hong Kong's best in some time. It's definitely one you should see at the festival if you can. Check back here or at the Subway Cinema website for info about the festival schedule.

And if you can't see it at the NYAFF, keep the title in mind. Hopefully, someone will at least pick it up for distribution on DVD, if not wider theatrical release.

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