Saturday, June 26, 2010

New York Asian Film Festival 2010: Ip Man 2

Ip Man 2 (2010) - Yip
Wilson Yip's saga continues, this time it's Hong Kong, 1950. Having just arrived and penniless and friendless, Ip Man, the master of Wing Chun style martial arts, faces first the complex local martial club hierarchy, then yet another abusive foreign power, this time, the British empire.

After losing a number of hard earn pupils to tuff wars, ever stoic and dignified Ip Man reluctantly enters to a test to earn respects and rights to open his own martial club, under the watchful eye of a respected and rich local honcho, master Hung (Sammo Hung). Against one master after another on the ricketty round tea table, Ip Man shows them he is much more than enough to be called a master. The fights are heavenly, especially between Sammo Hung, who choreographed all the fight sequences in both Ip Man movies and Donnie Yen.

Then the film goes into Rocky IV territory with the corrupt, racist British police force arranging the West-East boxing match to show who the boss is, with an obnoxious boxer named Twister. Sammo Hung, at the tender age of 58, gives the most heart wrenching performance here as the master who abides to the rules to survive, but not to the insult to Chinese. Ip Man 2 belongs to Hung as much it does to Donnie Yen.

The fight between Twister and Ip Man is way over the top. It was the ruthless but dignified opponent Miura that gave the first film weight and integrity, a worthy opponent so to speak. Twister, a thick headed foreign devil, comes across as Hugo Weaving on steroids. I kept expecting him appearing in flip-flop dress as in Adventures of Pricilla Queen of the Desert. Ip Man 2, with the political urgency gone, is lighter and sillier than the first one, but still great fun to watch. It even squeezes in little Bruce Lee at the end.

*Prior to the screening, Sammo Hung received Asia Star Lifetime Achievement Award from ever enthusiastic Grady Hendrix of NYAFF. As Hung introduced this Opening Night Film of the NYAFF 2010, his good humor and grace didn't go unnoticed by star-struck audience that packed the sold out screening.

Ip Man 2 is the Opening Night Selection screening on June 25th (9:30 PM) and is screening June 27th (8:45 PM) at the Walter Reade Theater as part of 2010 New York Asian Film Festival Sammo Hung will be at the screening
Ip Man 2 Review at Twitch