It is very rare when a sequel lives up to it’s original. Ip Man 2 is a movie that does this brilliantly!!! Director Wilson Yip, Action Director Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, and star Donnie Yen return for the follow up to the award winning action packed epic!!!
Set a few years after the end of World War II, Wing Chun Kung Fu Master Yip (Ip) Man has made his way from Fo Shang to Hong Kong escaping the crumbling Japanese empirical occupation with his wife and kids. Along with his cousin, they try to rebuild their lives. For a Kung Fu master in Hong Kong however, this proves difficult. The region is teeming with gangs and corrupt officials. His charismatic, but headstrong new disciple gets into a scrap with one of the kung fu gang members and is captured. When Master Yip arrives to have him released, he is penniless and unable to pay. Unfortunately for the thugs… They find this unacceptable. The fight scene that ensues starts as Master Yip effortlessly fends off his attackers. Their numbers unable to match his skill, the altercation turns into a blistering weapons display. Hollywood truly missed an opportunity when Sammo Hung Kam-Bo was in the states. Instead of letting him be the imposing villain he plays in Hong Kong… They made him the jolly fat guy. Hung is gangster scary as Kung Fu Master Hong, who runs the streets with his students!!! Master Hong, displeased with the events, informs Master Yip he has not been given the right to teach in the region.
Once confronted, Master Yip must challenge the regions masters for the right to teach martial arts. Standing on a center-balanced tabletop, the master’s battle with the goal of knocking Master Yip off or making him quit. One of the great things about this movie is the spirit of the old Kung-Fu movies brought to the fight scenes… Styles make fights!!! As with the first movie the fighting isn’t for the sake of fighting. Each confrontation is escalated by the consequences. Master Yip’s wing chun vs. the various other kung-fu masters styles is just fight fan technical eye candy!!! After battling a couple of masters and his skill displayed, none of the other masters will challenge him… Save one. Yen vs. Hung… Fight!!! No high-speed cameras here kids, those cats were fast as lightning ( I could not resist, I had to. )!!! The wire fu is used sparingly (A point Hung and Yen stress in all their movies.), and properly. The two combatants battle to a stalemate, and Master Yip is granted the right to teach. Master Hong will acknowledge him as master but will not ally himself however. This isn’t the first time the two icons have battled… but that is another story.
The stalemate, mounting disrespect from the corrupt officials and Master Yip’s refusal to pay the monthly “protection” fee drive Master Hong to bring trouble to Master Yip’s door. One of the truly great things about this character and a testament to Yen’s portrayal of the grandmaster is his sense of Zen. His devastating hands and feet are matched only by his calm and humanitarianism. When Master Yip confronts Master Hong, the two square off, once more prepared to do battle. During this confrontation, an event takes place which Yip questions Hong’s true sense of value.
“You fight great, but I’m a great fighter!!!” so sayeth, Apollo Creed. There is nothing wrong with paying homage to or even copying a movie… As long as you do it right. Issues settled between the masters now you’d say… Well, where’s the conflict? There’s still so much movie left!!! Remember those corrupt officials I mentioned? Well, they’re ignorant westerners (Arrogant douchebags, you’d be happy to see get a beat down). One of them is boxing champ “Twister” from England. This dude has the mannerisms of Ivan Drago and the mouth of Clubber Lang. Taking in a western boxing match one night Yip, and Hong get drawn into a room-clearing brawl as Twisters blatant disrespect for the culture enrages the crowd. Hong’s issues with the officials’ spurs him to make an official challenge to the boxing champ. Ok… Remember the fight between Drago and Creed in Rocky IV? This scene is complete with Yip holding the white towel and Hong insisting he not throw it… Cut to funeral. Lynn Hung is back as Yip Man’s wife, and she has star presence and elegance on screen once again. She also gives us the passage to what makes this “Rocky” segment complete… A montage!!! She’s pregnant, so instead of distracting Yip, she’ll go stay with a friend so he can train. What is interesting in the fight between Master Yip and Twister is the difficulty boxing gloves and hand speed presented. Of course they made him stop using his feet, and he starts get knocked down… But, he gets up again (Ha Ha… That’s gonna stick for a minute!!!). In true Italian Stallion fashion, Yip defeats Twister. Cheung Wing-sing (Adrian)!!!!!!.
This is a good movie. It’s not the epic masterpiece the original was… But it’s a worthy successor. Fans of the first movie will not be disappointed (Some characters from the first movie make nice cameos), but you don’t need to see the first movie to follow this one. The cinematography is gorgeous and the score is subtle yet powerful, just like Grandmaster Yip.