Posts Tagged ‘Yu-Hang To’

THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN [YIP MAN CHINCHYUN | YE WEN QIAN ZHUAN | 葉問前傳]

2010/08/07

https://sites.google.com/site/youngipman/

http://www.meiah.com/syno.asp?id=25&lang=E

http://ipmanlegend.pixnet.net/blog

HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Herman Yau Written by: Erica Lee  Produced by: Sin Kwok-Lam  Cinematography: Chan Kwong-Hung  Music: Chun Hung Mak Starring: Dennis To, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Fan Siu-Wong, Huang Yi, Tin Chiu Hung, Lam Suet, Bernice Liu, Andy Taylor, Yu-Hang To, Jiao Xu

THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN is another film about the late master of Wing Chun and a quasi-prequel to Raymond Wong’s IP MAN movies, starting from Ip Man’s childhood and covering all the years up to his marriage. THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN is a bit like a time travel, reflecting the life, politics and style of decades long gone. Sometimes looking like a classic Hong Kong movie from the early 60’s, sometimes like a Bruce Lee film from the 70s, sometimes like a History Channel episode, LEGEND is diverse and colorful and offers much more than just artistic martial arts.

This coming from Herman Yau, one of the kings of CAT III (TAXI HUNTER, THE UNTOLD STORY, EBOLA SYNDROME) is a surprise. If anything I would have expected LEGEND to be a fatuitous martial arts movie, borrowing fame and glory from the man who is a legend. But things are different this time: not only has the movie been authorized by Man’s family, not only is Ip Man’s son Ip Chun one of the co-stars, THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN is a multidimensional film dealing with Ip Man’s personal life as much with his martial arts skills.

LEGEND may take some liberties with the historic facts, but that was no different with the IP MAN films. As the movie is not a history lesson I think it goes as far as possible without compromising its entertainment qualities. It dramatizes Ip Man’s life and times pretty well and paints an interesting picture of the man who would become Bruce Lee’s master.

Overall LEGEND seems to have a faster pace than the IP MAN movies, featuring more fights on various occasions. The fight choreography is less detailed than Donnie Yen’s action sequences, plus Donnie Yen is missing, which results in the action standards being slightly below IP MAN (unless the formidable Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung enter the ring; with Hung starring in both IP MAN 2 and LEGEND I wonder if the audience can really always differentiate between the movies). Also, the acting is less serious at times and you will notice more cliché expressions on the actor’s faces (like “surprise”, “anger”, “pain”), just as much as certain scenes are gearing more towards overly fancy – or humorous – choreography, quite different from IP MAN’s bare-bones approach.

But that doesn’t mean that THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN is necessarily inferior to IP MAN 1 & 2. To be fair I’d say that LEGEND is different, with some details being less refined, but overall it comes down to taste, especially as there are many who have not been convinced by the previous IP MAN entries.

If you were hoping for a less biased or racist attitude you’ll be disappointed though. If there’s one thing all movies have in common it’s their expressively anti-Japanese and sometimes anti-Western thinking, their simple classification into black and white and their willingness to act as a political vehicle confirming, and broadcasting, all kinds of prejudices.

If you care more about the story and its execution THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN is another good effort to bring the martial arts legend to the silver screen. Now all that’s missing is Wong Kar-Wai’s interpretation of the IP MAN story, then we can finally come up with a solid ranking.

J.


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DIM SUM: THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN a.k.a. YOUNG IP MAN [YE WEN QIAN ZHUAN | 葉問前傳]

2010/06/12

http://ipmanlegend.pixnet.net/blog

UPDATE: READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE! – – – – – – – – – It seems the IP MAN story is still in fashion with another movie about the master coming up:  THE LEGEND IS BORN – IP MAN (a.k.a. THE YOUNG IP MAN) is about the early years of Ip Man (so again – NO Bruce Lee in here) and stars Sammo Hung, Yu-Hang To, Biao Yuen and Siu-Wong Fan. Directed by Herman Yau, so we consequently expect the usual Yau take on the subject (Wong Kar Wai, are you still pursuing your IP MAN project?).

J.

IP MAN [YIP MAN | 葉問]

2010/05/09

http://www.ipman-movie.com/

HONG KONG 2008  Directed by: Wilson Yip Written by: Edmond Wong  Produced by: Raymond Wong Cinematography by: Sing-Pui O  Editing: Ka-Fai Cheung  Music: Kenji Kawai Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Siu-Wong Fan, Ka Tung Lam, Yu Xing, You-Nam Wong, Chen Zhi Hui, Lynn Hung, Hiroyuki Ikeguchi, Yu-Hang To

In 2008 two attempts were made to bring the work and life of grandmaster Ip Man to the big screen: first prolific producer Raymond Wong announced his project, then Wong Kar Wai came out saying he had his own version of an Ip Man movie coming up soon. While Wong Kar Wai’s film remains in development hell until today, Raymond Wong went ahead producing the acclaimed epic finally simply called IP MAN after some title controversy.

The movie is set during the Sino-Japanese war in the 30’s: Foshan, originally a city bustling with martial arts schools of southern Chinese styles is soon being occupied by the Japanese army. The previously prosper Foshan declines and becomes a place in which disease and starvation are the norm. The martial arts schools are closed and the masters have to work in a coal mine to make a living. Occasionally the Japanese force them to fight against their own martial artists, and one day it’s Ip Man’s turn to take on the enemy in a life-and death martial arts duel.

IP MAN naturally takes its liberties with Ip Man’s biography, but who are we to judge right from wrong. What’s more important is that IP MAN is a rich, diverse and believable portrait of the Wing Chun grandmaster within the limitations of a martial art movie (we have to understand that IP MAN is not a biopic). Still there are so many ways in which you can enjoy the movie; IP MAN will most certainly stand the test of time and become a modern classic.

With Donnie Yen’s best acting so far and with another fabulous martial arts performance of his (which is even more notable bearing in mind he had to learn Wing Chun from ground up before shooting started) IP MAN succeeds in portraying Ip Man as a kind, skilled and dedicated person. Yen’s acting is very believable and I couldn’t think of anyone else to play the role better, or at all (unless you rewrite the role and omit all fighting). The rest of the ensemble is also well cast, which elevates IP MAN far above most other martial arts movies. From beginning to end you never have the feeling to watch a stunt show that requires just any story as an excuse for the fights, instead the movie is more than sincere in telling the life and times of Ip Man.

For all martial arts fans out there IP MAN should be a feast for the eyes, featuring various styles and fantastic action choreography by Sammo Hung. The fights are enormously dynamic and grim with wirework that supports the action and never overshadows the skills of the fighters.

If you are fond of history IP MAN is also an interesting account of the Japanese invasion: naturally the film is biased, but it never feels unjustified and in the end every great movie needs a great villain. IP MAN may have strong views in regard of the Japanese, but it’s not propaganda like many other films – for IP MAN history is a canvas upon which it paints its story.

Finally the movie shines when it comes to production value (I forgive the movie that the very first scene showing Foshan is very much revealing that these are studio facades), direction, editing and music. In short, it’s another outstanding Raymond Wong production.

IP MAN evokes memories of the good old days of Hong Kong cinema and gets as close as that is possible today to milestones like ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA. If all Hong Kong movies would have the virtues of IP MAN we would soon see a renaissance of Hong Kong cinema; unfortunately this is not the case.

For the time being IP MAN marks the pinnacle of contemporary Cantonese martial arts films with only one serious competitor in sight: IP MAN 2.

J.