The 2008 hit film Ip Man set a new course for Donnie Yen and any hopes for this sequel to outdo the original comes very close had it not been for a finale that is reminiscent of an 80’s Hollywood classic. However, this still ranks as a truly worthy sequel overall.
After defeating Japanese general Miura in Foshan, Wing Chun master Ip Man leaves for Hong Kong in hopes to start his own martial arts school. However, as time passes and no students arrive, Ip and his family begin to fall heavily into debt. However, when a youngster named Wong Leung arrives to test out Master Ip’s Wing Chun, he is impressed and brings three friends with him.
As Ip Man’s reputation begins to go up, other martial arts masters in the area, notable that of Hung Kuen Master Hung, are not happy that Master Ip refuses to adhere to the rules. When Master Hung’s students cause problems for Master Ip, Ip decides to accept Hung’s challenge and when the duo draw in a tie, Hung shows some respect towards Ip, but deep down, he feels he is forced to be loyal to the British government, who rule Hong Kong.
However, the rivalry between Hung and Ip eventually settles. When Twister comes to Hong Kong, the British boxer plans to denounce Chinese kung fu. When Hung challenges Twister to a match, the fight ends in tragedy, prompting Ip Man to do what he had done in Foshan, this time for Hong Kong.
Donnie Yen returns to top form in this sequel to the 2008 hit Hong Kong film. The film is set in 1950, a few years after the events of the original film. Yen shows the age really well and still looks great when he performs Wing Chun. Yen even plays a very good mentor and close to a father figure to the character of Wong Leung, played by Huang Xiaoming. The character of Wong Leung is based on Ip’s real-life student Wong Shum Leung.
As for Yen’s two main rivals, the first is the legendary Sammo Hung, who plays Master Hung. This is a long awaited rematch between the two after their legendary on-screen rivalry in SPL (2005). Instead of the modern day MMA-style brawling from that film, this rivalry brings back some classic style fight choreography of kung fu styles courtesy of Hung. Before Yen takes on Hung, Yen takes on the likes of two seasoned veterans, former Venom Lo Meng and Warriors Two villain Fung Hark-On.
The second rival Yen faces is that of British boxing champion Twister, played by the awesome martial artist Darren Shahlavi, who makes his return to Hong Kong cinema. This is where the film delves into Rocky IV territory. It is as if screenwriter Edward Wong needed a fitting ending and watched ROCKY IV prior to completing the screenplay. Instead of Russia vs. The United States, we have Hong Kong vs. England and the contrasting styles of Wing Chun Kung Fu against Western Boxing.
Despite the Rocky IV-esque finale, Ip Man 2 still is a truly worthy sequel with Donnie Yen continuing to impress fans with his acting performance and his martial arts skills. The Yen-Hung rivalry of the film will not disappoint fans.
WFG RATING: B+
A Mandarin Films Limited production. Director: Wilson Yip. Producers: Raymond Wong, Lee Xin, and Ann An. Writers: Edmond Wong, Chan Tai-Li, and Choi Hiu-Yan. Cinematography: Poon Hang-Sang and Davy Tsou. Editing: Cheung Ka-Fai.
Cast: Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Huang Xiaoming, Lynn Hung, Kent Cheng, Simon Yam, Louis Fan, Darren Shahlavi, Ashton Chen, Turbo Law, Fung Hark-On, Lam Hak-Ming.