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Adapted from the life story of Ip Man - the grand master of the Wing Chun style of kung fu and sifu of legendary kung fu superstar Bruce Lee. This movie will be the first important record of the master's life. Ip's persistent devotion to Wing Chun is a classic example of the love and respect shown to wushu and the freedom and spirit it represents. Ip Man is a concept, a spirit, a way of thinking - and it exemplifies a new peak in Hong Kong's wushu movies.
For more about Ip Man and the Ip Man Blu-ray release, see the Ip Man Blu-ray Review
Starring: Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Fan Siu-Wong, Xiong Dailin, Wong You-nam, Simon Yam
Director: Wilson Yip
» See full cast & crew
Ip Man Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 17, 2009
Impressive as a Wing Chun action film, but somewhat underwhelming as an elaborate autobiographical film about the life of Bruce Lee's mentor, Wilson Yip's "Ip Man" (2008) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Showbox Entertainment. Amongst the many supplemental features on the disc are the documentary "From Ip Man to Bruce Lee - Tracing the Legacy", cast and crew interviews, deleted scenes, production featurettes, trailers, and more. With imposed English subtitles. Region-Free.
Wilson Yip's latest film tells the story of Bruce Lee's legendary martial arts master Ip Man (Donnie Yen, Flash Point). The film opens up in 1930s Fosham, Guangdong where the young man lives a peaceful life with his wife. He often visits the street where the city's martial arts masters run their schools, but rarely shows what he is capable of in front of the masses.
Things change dramatically when a powerful Kung-Fu fighter (Fan Siu-wong, The Butterfly Lovers) arrives in Fosham and begins challenging the local masters. He defeats everyone and announces that he will be opening his own school. Of course, he hasn't fought Ip Man and the locals quickly remind him of it.
Ip Man welcomes the foreigner into his home and teaches him a lesson he won't forget. Fosham's residents proclaim his love and respect for the best of the best and beg him to teach them the secrets of Wing Chun. Ip Man is moved but unwilling to set up his own school.
The story then focuses on the Japanese invasion of China. We see the Imperial Army take over Fosham and Ip Man and his family struggling to make ends meet. In order to provide for his wife and son, the Wing Chun master becomes a miner. Soon, he also gets involved in a dangerous tournament where Japanese and Chinese Kung-Fu fighters challenge each other. Eventually, Ip Man unites the locals and encourages them to stand up against the Japanese aggressors.
If you aren't particularly interested in martial arts, Ip Man could be a very difficult film to like. This is an ambitious concept-project where action, history and philosophy are all integral parts in a somewhat entertaining but ultimately underwhelming story about a very special man. Furthermore, the creators of Ip Man have also taken a very liberal approach in their depiction of the Japanese invasion of China, which, in my opinion, affects the film's aspirations for authenticity quite negatively.
Donnie Yen's portrayal of Ip Man is also controversial to say the least. In the Making-of featurette provided on this Blu-ray disc, the action-guru reveals that he spent a great deal of time studying Ip Man's Wing Chun legacy as well as his views on Kung-Fu in general. Unfortunately, aside from the very impressive fighting sequences, Ip Man and Donnie Yen offer little towards understanding the philosophy and credo of the man who taught the legendary Bruce Lee the secrets of Wing Chun.
Technically, Ip Man looks polished to perfection. Wilson Yip's camera is very effective in following Donnie Yen as well as providing the audience with a number of terrific vistas from the bustling city of Fosham. One could easily tell, however, how inconsistent the script is; the more the story progresses, the more difficult it becomes to regard Ip Man as the type of film its creators intended it to be.
As it stands, Ip Man will certainly divide more people than it will unite with its message. Aside from the expertly choreographed fights, there is little here that we haven't already seen done better in other genre films. More or less, Ip Man strikes me as a missed opportunity rather than as a memorable celebration of a man with an impressive legacy.
Ip Man Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Wilson Yip's Ip Man arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Cine-Asia/Showbox Entertainment.
The transfer for this release differs quite a bit from the one we saw from Universe Laser & Video Co. First, the color-scheme is not as rich and well saturated. Blacks, grays and blues are very different. Second, during selected scenes, edge-enhancement is rather easy to spot. Third, there is quite a bit of digital noise that pops up here and there.
Generally speaking detail ranges from average to pleasing. Some of the action scenes, for example, look quite strong; elsewhere, however - particularly during the second half of Ip Man - the picture looks a bit soft. Macroblocking is not a serious issue of concern. There are no stability issues to report on this review either. Overall, the transfer looks healthy. Serious damage - debris, scratches, marks, warps, etc - are nowhere to be seen. To sum it all up, I believe that the more sensitive amongst you, and particularly those who are going to view Ip Man on larger that 50-55' screens, will undoubtedly notice many of transfer issues I described above. (Note: This is a Region-Free disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Ip Man Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0. I opted for the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and later on did a few random comparisons for the purpose of this review.
Good news! Showbox Entertainment's Blu-rays finally have loseless audio.
The Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid. In fact, I would say that it is very mu on par with the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track from the Hong Release of Ip Man. The bass is rich, the rear channels very active, and the high frequencies not overdone. Once again, as it was the case with the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track will undoubtedly test the muscles of your audio system. The dialog is crisp, clear and easy to follow.
Plain and simple - the Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 track is dramatically inferior to the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. I tested a couple of the better action scenes and, suffice to say, I cannot think of a single reason why you should not opt for the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
For the record, Showbox Entertainment have provided English subtitles for the main feature. They are, however, "imposed" (this would mean that you cannot turn them off). As you could see from our screenshots, they also split the image frame and the black bar below it.
Ip Man Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this disc - except the Production Gallery and From Ip Man to Bruce Lee - Tracing the Legacy segments - are in PAL. Therefore, if you reside in North America, or another region where PAL is not supported, you must have a Region-Free player capable of converting PAL to NTSC, or a TV set capable of receiving native PAL data, in order to view them.
Interview Gallery - Wilson Yip, Donnie Yen, Lam Ka-tung, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Ip Chun, Fan Sui-Wong, Xiong Dai-Lin, Sammo Hung and Simon Yam talk about their contribution to Ip Man. With imposed English subtitles.
Making of Gallery - four segments - "Making of" (19 min), "Pre-production" (2 min), "Shooting Diary" (4 min), and "Behind the Scenes: Production Gallery" (2 min) - focus on different aspects from the film. The "Making of" is the most entertaining one as it offers plenty of information about the real Ip Man. With imposed English subtitles.
Gala Premiere - footage from the event (2 min).
Location/Set Design Gallery - three segments - "The Foshan Cotton Mill" (3 min), "Foshan's Main Street and Mo Goon Street" (2 min), and "Ip Man's Residence" (2 min) - highlighting some of the key locations from the film. With imposed English subtitles.
Deleted Scenes Gallery - five short deleted scenes with imposed English subtitles.
From Ip Man to Bruce Lee - Tracing the Legacy - a fascinating documentary exploring the relationship between Ip Man and his legendary disciple. With imposed English subtitles. (15 min, 1080i).
Trailer Gallery - a teaser, trailer, UK promo trailer, and two TV Spots.
Trailers - trailers for other Showbox Entertainment releases.
Ip Man Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Those of you residing in Region-B territories who could not take advantage of the Region-A "locked" Hong Kong release of Ip Man can finally see this much talked-about film thanks to British distributors Cine-Asia/Showbox Entertainment. Their disc also contains all of the supplemental features, with imposed English subtitles, found on the Hong Kong release.
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