Wednesday, June 23, 2010

THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN 葉問前傳 Movie Review. The FIGHTS are leaner, cleaner and astonishingly heart-pounding.


There’s little doubt that DONNIE YEN is widely acknowledged as IP MAN, the brand.

DONNIE YEN is indeed, IP MAN.

This association has been cleverly crafted.

It’s a star positioning that has been successfully entrenched in the heart and mind of the Chinese movie goers all over the world.

IP MAN is a true cinematic legend now. So is the art of WING CHUN.

It’s a lucrative formula that has made actor DONNIE YEN a superstar,

And for film producer RAYMOND WONG, he has hit “boom time charlie” with the IP MAN chronicles.

2010 is the year of IP MAN. And WING CHUN.

It’s a box office roll, a successful cash cow that maketh the world go round.

And as money speaks, more IP MAN productions are in the pipeline, moving across the drawing boards, jumping on the bandwagon.

We are having an overkill here, so stay braced.

So what of THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN, the newest offering directed by HERMAN YAU from a competitive camp?

HERMAN promises unique martial arts sequences that have never been seen before and fights between real life WING CHUN professionals.

It’s another IP MAN movie reprisal, this time around it has this studious-looking newcomer DENNIS TO YU-HANG (he is reminding me of Singapore actor NAT HO) playing the pivotal role of the Grand Master.

Incidentally, DENNIS TO has REAL fight credits. He happens to be a true disciple of the IP MAN’s School of Wing Chun and was the original martial arts consultant on the DONNIE YEN’s IP MAN series.

DENNIS is the current World Kung Fu Champion, the first Hong Kong Champion of the 2005 East Asia Games and winner of various international martial arts tournaments.

And his portrayal of the legendary IP MAN with quiet charm and grit is justifiable enough for us to sit up and take notice.

This dude can fight!

THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN is a semi-fictionalized prequel.

It transports us back to a time, way before the 1st IP MAN movie – and chronicles the formative years of the WING CHUN pugilist.

From his younger days, IP MAN was already learning WING CHUN from CHAN WAH-SHUN (SAMMO HUNG), NG CHUNG-SUI (YUEN BIAO), and subsequently from LEUNG BIK (IP CHUN).

This film focuses on IP MAN’s resistance against the invading Japanese and his romantic relationships with the woman he eventually marries CHEUNG WING-SING (CRYSTAL HUANG) and his fellow student LI MEI WAI (ROSE CHAN) who is secretly in love with him.

The staging of the fights are awesome.

A correct Wing Chun stance is like a piece of bamboo, firm but flexible, rooted but yielding. This structure is used to either deflect external forces or redirect them.

At its heart, it is about motion, forward motion, momentum, unfolding spectacle, BONE CRUNCHING and HEART STOMPING stances in true WING CHUN style.

Yet there is a soul in the midst of all its bone crunching mayhem, big in power and scope.

The multi-layered actions are pow-wow, fast and furious and will definitely keep you on edge of your seat.

So who’s a better WING CHUN performer, DONNIE YEN or DENNIS TO?

Grand master IP CHUN airs his views:

“DONNIE excelled and trained extremely hard in WING CHUN for his movies. To the untrained eye it looks fantastic, but a real WING CHUN master would take one look at his moves and know that it wasn’t pure WING CHUN,

DONNIE does not have a foundation in WING CHUN, so no matter how hard he trained, some of his non-WING CHUN fighting moves would be noticeable!”

Well said, but DONNIE YEN has that “majestic” albeit charismatic presence that newcomer DENNIS TO would have to take many long years to accomplish.

Well, something’s gotta give, right?

Director HERMAN YAU has helmed an admirable movie that’s truly entertaining, at best.

Whilst the rip-roaring actions in DONNIE YEN’s IP MAN aim to glorify, the fights in THE LEGEND IS BORN, on the other hand, seek to justify.

It’s all in true WING CHUN form.

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