In a year which Chinese films have been largely disappointing, Ip Man is one of the best, and almost certainly the most entertaining film to come out. Not that it is without flaws, some of which are gratingly obvious. First, there is emoting. While Donnie Yen is suited to play Ip Man as the classic junzi with few words, whenever the script requires Yen to display any emotion beyond his de facto blank face of sereneness, his attempts are underwhelming. The same can be said for any scene requiring any actor to cry. The film literally grinds to a screeching halt when mediocre actors try to emote. Another flaw is how Ip Man is portrayed as a one-dimensional paragon of virtue, which almost turns him into a caricature. In the film Ip Man is unstoppable and never once is in danger of getting his ass kicked. I don’t remember a single scene where Ip Man is in danger of losing a fight. This robs the film of alot of dramatic tension and the best heroes need a strong villain to bring out the best of them both. This is why the final battle between Ip and the main Jap baddie feels anticlimatic, because Ip single-handedly trashes him with barely a sweat. In fact, throughout the entire film, no one is even remotely as good as Ip Man in terms of combat skills.
If this long list of flaws makes me seem like i am dissing the film, it is only because I enjoyed Ip Man alot and I can see the potential in the film. This is a film that could have touched 9/10 but is let down by many flaws. The characters are cast in simple black and white terms so the audience knows who to cheer or boo at. A pity because the most well developed character in the film is Gordon Lam’s duplicitous turn as a translator that actually hints of character development. The film itself looks great with excellent action sequences and the film moves with a quick snappy pace. As entertainment, i daresay that Ip Man is one of the year’s most entertaining movie and one which i enjoyed immensely, flaws notwithstanding. I list the multitude of flaws only because i believe that this film had potential to be great, but as it stands Director Wilson Yip’s version only counts as very good. Wong Kar Wai is already planning his own Ip Man biopic and i’m interested to see how WKW can craft his own take on this character, which will no doubt be less action oriented but provide far more depth. Despite its flaws, Ip Man is highly entertaining and certainly one of the better Donnie Yen films. Highly Recommended.