I stumbled upon this blogathon set up by Myfilmviews and because I like a challenge and need something to do I thought I’d take part! Plus reading some of the posts from other bloggers it sounds like good fun.
The first obstruction is:
This is going to be difficult whichever one I choose, I rarely completely dislike a film, I’m easily pleased really but I avoid anything I know for sure I’ll hate so I’ll go with writing a negative review of a movie I love. I very recently watched all of the Ip Man films, the main two with Donnie Yen, directed by Wilson Yip and the two directed by Herman Yau; The Legend is Born: Ip Man and Ip Man: The Final Fight. I loved all of them, and as I watched them recently they’re fresh in my mind. So without further ado, heres my negative review of The Legend is Born: Ip Man. Damn, this is going to be tough! I can’t think of anything bad to say about it!
Donnie Yen‘s performance in Wilson Yip‘s two Ip Man films was a hard one to follow and Yu-Hang To fails to match up. He lacks the finesse, charisma and quiet pensiveness that Donnie Yen brings to the role and is difficult to believe in the role of a brave and intelligent fighter. To‘s boyish charm doesn’t suit the role at all and doesn’t feel at all like a believable Ip Man.
The story barely holds any similarity to the true story of Ip Man and invents a rather far fetched sub plot in which Ip Man finds out his adopted brother is actually a Japanese spy, and they end up fighting to the death. This is a very steep adaption to Ip Man‘s biography and is entirely fictitious and very misleading, the point of the Ip Man films is to explore and celebrate someone who was a master of their art and an icon in Hong Kong history, not exploit his story and invent over the top sub plots.
Ip Man‘s real-life son Ip Chun makes an appearance as elderly pharmacy owner and martial arts master Leung Bik, his appearance a small highlight to the film. He has very little to do or say and has a very small and insignificant role which seems a shame as he appears to be the only one involved in the film with any idea about the real Ip Man. It’s a wonder he didn’t refuse point blank to be involved in something that ignores the true story of his legendary father and replaces it with far fetched fiction.
Although the martial arts is well choreographed, the far fetched nature of the plot and the limp performance of To as Ip Man spoils the films potential. Wilson Yip‘s Ip Man films were difficult to follow, and Donnie Yen‘s legendary performance equally so but this film doesn’t even manage to come close. It would have benefitted a story much closer to the truth and a better actor to play the titular role. Don’t waste your time; watch Wilson Yip‘s film instead.