Collaborating with director Wilson Yip for the fourth time, action star Donnie Yen takes the leading role in a momentous biopic of martial arts legend Ip Man, the Wing Chun grandmaster whose many students included Bruce Lee. Set in 1930s and 40s China during the Sino-Japanese War, Ip Man follows in the spirit of blockbuster period actioners like Fearless and Once Upon a Time in China with a rousing bout of folk hero patriotism and a breathtaking display of martial arts. Endorsed by Ip Man’s son who served as a consultant for the film, Ip Man takes some liberties with history, but cuts no corners when it comes to the intense action scenes choreographed by Sammo Hung. Donnie Yen delivers perhaps the best acting performance of his career, along with his usual jaw-dropping martial arts machismo. Ip Man co-stars Simon Yam (Fatal Move), Gordon Lam (Sparrow), Wong Yau Nam (AV), martial artists Fan Siu Wong (The Moss) and Xing Yu (Kung Fu Hustle), and Japanese actor and judo black-belt holder Ikeuchi Hiroyuki (Karaoke Terror) as Yen’s main rival.
Ip Man opens in 1930s Foshan, a town steeped in kung fu heritage and lined with an abundance of martial arts schools. The undisputed toast of Foshan though is Ip Man (Donnie Yen), known not only for his superb martial arts, but also for his great humility and integrity. Content with his wealthy, low-key life with his wife (Lynn Xiong Dai Ling) and son, Ip Man refuses to take disciples, though he is at times forced to give sound beatings to rash challengers. Everything changes, however, when war hits. There’s no more time for martial arts as Ip Man works hard to support his family through this time of poverty and oppression. But he can stay silent no longer when a Japanese general (Ikeuchi Hiroyuki) begins challenging Chinese martial artists to fatal duels.