By Gary Murray

Starring Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Simon Yam and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo

Written by Edmond Wong

Directed by Wilson Yip

Running time 115 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE

The Kung Fu film has changed much from the days of Enter the Dragon. Where once it was just a bunch of guys hand-to-hand fighting, today we get giant battles with wire works and flying stunts. The latest is Ip Man 2 Legend of the Grandmaster and goes back to basics. It is one of the highlights of 2011.

The story is of Ip Man (Donnie Yen), a master of martial arts trying to teach a new idea of Wing Chun martial arts in Hong Kong in 1949. His studio is atop a building and he has no pupils, just a belief in what he is doing. With a young son and a pregnant wife, his business needs to take off.

A young man, Wong Leung (Huang Xiaoming), comes to the roof and challenges Ip Man. When the man loses, he brings a group of friends to to battle. When they all lose, the men drop to the ground and ask the Master to teach them his martial arts. As the school begins to grow, other Masters begin to take notice. There is a pecking order to being a teacher of martial arts and Ip Man has broken the rules. He is challenged by the masters of the other schools. When Ip Man defeats the Master Hong (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo), they reluctantly let him have his classes.

On the other side of the plot, the British who run Hong Kong, have decided to have a Western style boxing exhibition in the city. The British are bringing the reigning champion Twister (Darren Shahlavi) to show everyone the proper way to box. At the exhibition, one of the Masters takes on the boxer and it doesn't well. In order to save face on both sides of the isle, a challenge is sent out for someone to take on the dangerous killer Twister. Ip Man is that challenger. He must not only protect his well-being but save the face of Chinese fighting.


The cinematography in Ip Man 2 Legend of the Grandmaster is some of the most impressive seen in a very long time. The camera is filled with sweeping vistas and brightly colored backdrops. The framing of the fight scenes are along the lines of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon both in composition and effecting story-telling techniques. It is just a beautiful film to behold

Director Wilson Yip does an impressive job telling the simple story. He almost goes overboard with some elements of the script of Edmond Wong but every time it seems to be too much, he magically pulls back to reality. Even though there are some wire works in the film, he basically keeps the film in a believable framework. This is not fantasy flick but an almost true story.

Donnie Yen does a great job with the role of Ip Man, but he keeps the entire work on an even keel. There is never the moment of doubt or the growing of the character. He is the same from first to last reel.

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo does much more with his part of Master Hong. He gets both a chance to grow his character and defend the pride of his culture and race. His role is a turning point of the film and he goes from semi-bad guy to tragic hero in just a few blinks of the eye. Darren Shahlavi becomes our true villain and the one everyone gets to hate in the piece. He represents not only the Western Devil but all that is wrong with British Imperialism.

Though this is a sequel to the 2008 film, it stands alone as a work of art. One does not have to see the first film to be thoroughly entertained by this movie. Ip Man 2 Legend of the Grandmaster does have a few flaws but it is a solid and enjoyable bit of entertainment. The ending holds a great twist that all the fans of Kung Fu will know.

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