film fatales #24: fat girl (catherine breillat, 2001)
them! (gordon douglas, 1954)

ip man 2 (wilson yip, 2010)

Sequel to Ip Man (duh) ... since the series is “based on fact”, this sequel has a slightly different emphasis. In the first movie, which took place in the 1930s, the enemy was the Japanese. Ip Man 2 comes after WWII ... Ip Man moves to Hong Kong, and the enemy becomes the British occupiers. In both movies, Donnie Yen shows the greatness of the Wing Chun fighting style, and the greatness of the Chinese over everyone else.

Matt Prigge pointed out that the plot is similar to Rocky IV, with Chinese substitutes for Rocky and Apollo Creed, and a British sub for Ivan Drago. Mostly this just means the movie works ... the plot is time-tested! It also means there aren’t many surprises to be found, which means Ip Man 2 relies more on its fight scenes than anything else.

Which is just fine, since the fight scenes are excellent. The immortal Sammo Hung is in charge, as he was for the first film. This time, he also has a part in the film, so we get to watch Sammo in action. He’s not in his prime ... before the film was made, he had heart surgery, he was 58 years old, and he got his face smashed during one fight scene. But he is still Sammo, and his choreography hasn’t lost a step. Donnie Yen is great, as always, although he, too, is getting on in years. It’s a joy to see him after his less-active role in Rogue One. Darren Shahlavi is properly scary as the British pugilist who fights Ip Man in the final scene.

By the time of that final fight, Wilson Yip has fired up a pretty intense anti-British atmosphere. The first part of the film deals with the differences between the various schools of martial arts, but gradually a theme of pride in Chinese culture rises to the top, and when that happens, the British start twirling their proverbial mustaches.

You don’t watch Ip Man 2 for the depth of character or the original plot. You’ve seen it before. But the combination of Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung always delivers. 7/10.


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