Wilson Yip | 104 mins | TV (HD) | 2.35:1 | China & Hong Kong / Cantonese, Mandarin & English | 15 / R
Picking up more or less where the first film left off, this sequel sees Ip and his family settled in Hong Kong, struggling to get by as he attempts to set up a Wing Chun school against opposition from the existing establishments.
The main thing to note about Ip Man 2 is that it has stunning fight sequences, especially a large sequence in the fish market and a one-on-one tabletop challenge. The latter sees star Donnie Yen take on legend Sammo Hung, which I imagine was a treat for genre fans (though it’s not their first encounter). For those of us less well versed in this world, it’s still a bloody good fight scene.
The first Ip Man was about considerably more than just action, but that’s where its sequel sets its focus. Human drama remains, but it doesn’t ring quite as true and perhaps isn’t trying to be as much of a feature as before. Ip Man’s relationships with his wife and with his students are hinted, told with plenty of shorthand — she’s pregnant, goes into labour just before his big fight (not that he knows), that kind of thing. They’re quickly tucked away as something for those really interested, rather than playing an essential part.
The only major downside comes when the Brits turn up for the final act. Stereotyped and poorly acted, presented with palpable jingoism and xenophobia, their presence and storyline drag the film down.
Still, at least it’s all wonderfully shot. Dismissing the clichéd desaturated look of the last film, here we get something a little more colourful, though never close to garish, with well chosen angles and superlative editing.
Ip Man 2 doesn’t have the same majesty as the first, but there’s an enjoyably pulpish sensibility in its place. Fast-moving and literally action-packed, on that level it entertains.