Kung Fu movies have never been a genre I have been massively into.
I watch one now and then to satisfy my craving for a different action movie, then wait until I next have that itch. So when I decided to give Ip Man: Kung Fu Master a watch I had no idea that I was diving into a long standing series. Still, even with no prior knowledge, there is some fun here.
If you start googling this series, you will get confused, especially when you expect Donnie Yen to pop on the screen as the titular character. I read a lot of pieces about the movies, finding Dennis To was in minor roles in those movies but is now the Ip man in this one, or something. Either way it took longer to Google that than watch the movie, so I don’t recommend it.
I do recommend checking out Ip Man: Kung Fu Master and enjoying it for what it is.
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master follows a cop who is ethical to the bone in Foshan, a region in China before their revolution. Tension is high between Japan and China, and the gang known as the Axes love their crime but hate opium being imported from Japan.
The Axes’ boss gets taken out when some Japanese officers and drug runners get involved in the import of opium, and the corrupt police chief gets out of the way leaving Ip Man and his unlikely ally who took over the Axes to save the day. The story is… fine. Apparently Ip Man was the nickname of the Kung Fu master that trained Bruce Lee, but I suspect that there was a lot of creative freedom used in this movie.
This is especially apparent with the sheer number of Kung Fu trained people in Foshan. Everyone from the gangs’ kicking ass with Kung Fu, especially when armed with axes, to the Kung Fu loving Japanese officer, and of course Ip Man. The reality is the story is thin, but despite trying to add weight with Ip Man having a baby during the movie to raise the stakes, it’s a bit dull.
Fortunately while the story isn’t strong, the Kung Fu certainly is. The movie kicks off with Ip Man having to fight gangsters armed with axes, and it keeps going from there. They do a relatively good job of making it feel less like the annoying old trope of everybody running lined up to be attacked one by one. Multiple attackers are taken out using weapons such as poles for example, so it disguises the trope better than I have seen before.
Ip Man is what I have come to expect from Kung Fu movies. It doesn’t revolutionise the genre and won’t convert people who aren’t fans. But if someone is looking for a dumb action flick and wants to throw a different culture and setting in, as well as subtitles, then this could be a good watch for you.