Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Day Fifteen - Ip Man 2, or "Rocky IV levels of Nationalism."
Just as American cinema did in the 80's turning Ivan Drago into a Cold War caricature on which to hang all the evils of the world, so does Ip Man 2 with "Twister" Milos, an English fighter who spits on Chinese martial arts, its people, etc. Twister is aided in this by the corrupt English police superintendent who is just as brutal and abusive.
That's not to say that there aren't problems between the various Schools themselves. Like the first Ip Man film, the first act centers around inter-School rivalry as the various students of the masters cause fights and riots that force Ip Man (Donnie Yen) to prove his worth several times to the establishment.
Still, once Sifu Ip Man and Sifu Hung Chun-nam (played here by Sammo Hung) appear to settle their differences, the Brits are brought in as foreign devils (or "gweilo") upon which to hang all the woes of the era (post-WW2 Hong Kong), taking advantage and threatening all the hard working Chinese working class.
I do find it hard to watch all the obvious race-baiting, even if the ultimate post-fight speech calls for respect on both sides. The bad guys are defeated and the corrupt superintendent is stripped of his command, but the film still feels to much like a prop piece for Chinese national pride... just like those anti-communist films of the 80's. Heck, just like the first Ip Man, the toady collaborator even redeems himself, joining the side of the righteous.
Still, while there were only two dynamic fight scenes (the fish market and the Master test), those two scenes were admirable shows of fight choreography. While never quite reaching the entertaining levels of frenetic improvisation I desire from martial arts showcases (the Foundry bits from Drunken Master are still my favorite), the cinematography and direction were very well done. Kudos to the crew and choreographer (as Sammo Hung not only had the supporting role of Sifu Hung, but was the fight choreographer as well).
I'd say it's a watch if you're a Wing Chun fan... but is too obvious in its nationalism and racism to be worth it other than the fight scenes.
Until tomorrow, Potatoes~