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IP man (Donnie Yen) is back! Now based in Hong Kong, IP Man struggles to set up his Wing Chun school in an area filled with other less honourable martial arts teachers who because of the British rule over their region, struggle to live their lives without resulting to shadier methods.

IP Man 2
Overcoming their differences, Ip Man and Hung Chun-nam  (Sammo Hung) find themselves common enemies of their corrupt British leaders and after a western boxing match ends up with Hung Chun-nam getting killed by the heavyweight champion of the world, IP Man steps up as the next challenger to defend his nation's honour.

Over the last year I’ve had to review quite a few martial arts movies. From the period piece variety to modern crime thriller affairs they’ve been a mixed bag, but generally I’ve come away underwhelmed. You see, I loved this sort of thing growing up. Me and my brother spent many a day watching any and all Jackie Chan/Bruce Lee/Sammo Hung videos we could find (as well as the more easy to get hold of Jean Claude Van Damme/Steven Segal flicks of the eighties). I used to find all of this stuff really exciting and we crammed in way more than our fair share of the genre over a few years. However recently, as I said, I’ve been underwhelmed. The magic has sort of gone from the flying fists and feet and outside of maybe the first Ong Bak and Chocolate everything felt a little stale to me. That is until I sat down to watch IP Man 2.

Without a doubt this sequel is the best martial arts movie I’ve seen in what seems like ages. Not only is the martial arts on show here mesmerising to watch but the plot is actually engaging (an element sorely missed in most of the martial arts flicks I’ve reviewed of late). This wasn’t just a show of techniques pieced together with a wafer thin plot—there’s a lot going in IP Man’s world. Supporting his family and teaching his students sets up the basics, then the tensions he has with other masters starts the bigger proceedings off fairly routinely but with a stellar performance from Sammo Hung, who  provides a great counter to Donnie Yen’s incredibly likable lead, there’s a whole lot of drama to play out between the two and the hooks were in at just the right time for them both to face their biggest challenge.

IP Man 2
Going back to the fights for bit, they are absolutely brilliant. The simple stuff of IP Man proving his skills to a bunch of punks is the stuff all great martial arts movies are made of. The showdown on a wobbly table between Donnie Yen and Sammo (as well as a couple of other masters) is loads of fun and the massive battle between Yen and cleaver wielding thugs had that wow factor. But that’s not all, there’s the boxing....

Now the idea of boxing being a challenge for these guys initially felt ridiculous and it's probably just the mystique surrounding the unstoppable nature of martial arts within the realms of movies, but IP Man 2 really threw boxing in as a powerful opponent to eastern styles once that threat was established (I mean come on, no one's standing up after taking a direct right hook from a heavyweight). With some really intense fight scenes and the drama of watching these two styles collide in the ring IP Man started on its way to becoming a great sport movies, every character’s life seems to be tied to IP Man's face off with the boxing champion and by this point IP Man is the hero you just want to see succeed (especially as the British boxer was such a dick), so the drama woven into the final fight is fantastic.

IP Man 2

Video


The transfer here is great. Deep blacks and bright colours make the whole affair glow and really shows off the fighting. The camera techniques really capture the speed and nothing is lost in the strong detail and sharpness to the image.

The transfer is clean, pretty much grain free and if you disregard the obvious fact the Blu-ray would make the movie look even better, this DVD does a solid job at showing off the strengths of the standard definition format.

Audio


Once again IP Man 2’s presentation shines. It’s not the strongest or the most lively of tracks but it shows off in all the right places. The punches and kicks all come with a realistic sounding impact or that cool kung-fu “oomph’ and the score really ups the drama with a mix of tension driving ticks filling the speakers or a fitting bit of music to add emotion or danger to the action.

Dialogue is also strong (but as with most movies in the genre has that slight lip sync issue that doesn’t quite feel right). Atmospherics have a slight presence here and there and the bass is used quite effectively too, so all in all, IP Man 2’s audio track gets everything it need to do just right.

IP Man 2

Extras


Disc 1 has the usual ‘Also Available’ and then moves onto the ‘Trailer Gallery’ which has the UK Trailer, Original Trailer, 30 second TV spot, 15 second TV spot and the IP Man UK Trailer.

The ‘Shooting Gallery’ (03:06) shows footage of the film being made with a few historical facts about the real IP man woven in. The making of (17:38) features a lot of interviews from the cast and crew intercut with clips of the film of more footage of filming.

‘Four Big Scenes’ features the scenes, 'The IP Man’s Home', 'The Fish Market', 'The Chinese Restaurant' and 'The Boxing Match' and tells how these key scenes were made all about two to three minutes long each.

The three deleted scenes clock in at about ten minutes with the only major one being a boxing match between two actual boxers as opposed to East vs. West and the ‘Gala Premiere’ (03:00) is footage of the movie's big night and its stars arriving and being interviewed.

IP Man 2
Audio Commentary by Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan is another great informative track that these experts provide. Lots of other martial arts movie details, lots of insight into the story, the actors and the making of the movie. Any martial arts movie fan should really give this track a listen.

But that’s not all, there’s a disc two. The ‘Interview Gallery’ is packed with just shy of two hours of interview with everyone involved in the movie. These range from short and sweet three minute segments to a whopping thirty minuter with director Wilson Yip. They’re a bit of a slog to get through in how they are presented but great for fans I guess.

‘Legacy of the Master’ (34:23) is a fantastic documentary about the history of of the IP Man as well as Wing Chun in movies and its effect on the west.  

‘The Wing Chun Connection’ (27:08) is another great documentary and takes a closer look at the history of the technique and finally ‘Wing Chun in Action’ (25:11) shows off some of the basic techniques and just left me wanting to learn this stuff, which really took me back to how I used to feel after a great martial arts movie.

IP Man 2

Overall


IP Man 2 was brilliant across the board and it was good to see a movie come out of the genre that wasn’t just about showing off the moves or relying too heavily on the wire work or special effects to cover a weak plot. IP Man 2 has themes and performances that any good awards nominated movie gets noticed for and the fact it has incredible fight scenes to fall in love with just made for 108 minutes of awesomeness.

The disc here makes the movie even more of a must see for fans of the martial arts genre, with good A/V and really great features about the history of Wing Chun. IP Man 2 was an unexpected delight and this reviewer just got his love of martial arts movies back.


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