In case you missed it, there is a staggering number of films made in recent years and an ongoing TV series about the legendary Ip Man for a martial arts connoisseur to consume. Wilson Yip has directed four features about the master and now, director Liming Li enters a franchise with Ip Man: Kung Fu Master, which Li intends to follow up next with a prequel.
Ip Man created the martial art, Wing Chun, and was teacher to the great Bruce Lee. Before his life took this turn, Ip Man was a police officer in Foshan in Guangdong Province, China. He was newly married and soon to be expecting his first child. Ip Man: Kung Fu Master uses this as a backdrop to construct a murky underbelly to provide the many fight scenes on show.
A ruthless mobster draws the attention of the Foshan police when crateloads of cash are discovered in a warehouse. The mobster is sought out and jailed. However when the mobster is mysteriously killed while in custody, Ip is framed for the murder. This unleashes a fiery vengeance from his daughter QingChuan who is out for Ip’s blood. Forced to quit the force, Ip soon also has to contend with the arrival of the Japanese army in Guangzhou.
This makes for some spectacularly filmed and choreographed fight sequences. You will have to suspend disbelief as Ip takes on tens and tens of axe-wielding acrobats at once – and alone – to win a stay of defeat.
In the midst of all this, Ip worries for his wife and new baby. Begrudgingly, she agrees to take their child to a safer location. What visually constitutes a warm scene is accompanied by some incongruous musical backing.
Actor Dennis To, himself a decorated champion of Chinese martial art Wushu, has played the character of Ip Man several times. He received glowing praise from Ip Man’s son, Ip Chun, who said, Dennis To is the most accurate portrayal of his father.
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master is screening now. Check your local guides for screening times.
About Ip Man: Kung Fu Master
Running time: 84 mins
Language: Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed by Liming Li
Stars Yu-Hang ‘Dennis’ To, Michael Wong, Wanliruo Xin, Yuan LiRuoXin