|The Legend is Born: Ip Man (2010)|
|Starring:||To Yu-Hang, Fan Siu-Wong, Yuen Biao, Lam Suet and Sammo Hung|
|The Plot: This is a semi-biographical account detailing the early life of Ip Man, the famed martial artist known for being the instructor of Bruce Lee. This version of his story takes place in his earliest years and starts off with Ip Man (played by To Yu-Hang) and his brother Ip Tin-chi (played by Fan Siu-Wong) being sent off to train under Chan Wah-shun (played by Sammo Hung). Learning the martial arts of Wing Chun, the brothers both become exceptionally skilled. In this time, Tin-chi falls in love with Lee Mei-wai who is unfortunately in love with Ip Man. Ip Man however doesn’t return her affection and instead falls for Cheung Wing-shing (Huang Yi), the daughter of a local official (Lam Suet) who doesn’t approve of the young martial artist. As Ip Man grows, he ultimately heads off to college where he meets up with Leung Bik, who is the nephew of the man who taught Ip Man’s very own master. Leung Bik then teaches Ip Man a more fluid version of Wing Chun that becomes the envy of his school upon his return, which causes him a great amount of strife! Will Ip Man find love with Cheung Wing-shing, will Tin-chi get over the jealousy he feels for his brother and what will happen to Ip Man’s home with the threat of an incoming Japanese invasion!?|
While I won’t say that Legend is Born… is a total blunder, it is unfortunately a case of missed opportunity. With such a tremendous cast, and veteran Hong Kong director Herman Yau at the helm, this is a project that seemed destined for something a little better than decent. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. The most appropriate word for the project would be “serviceable”. It hits on several of the key areas that both an epic period-era biographic picture and martial arts films should, but it is a project that finds itself stuck in a quagmire of cliche genre-necessities. We have the love story, we have a love triangle that almost seems interesting and of course we have the regular quota of necessary fight scenes. Painting by the numbers, there’s not much in the way of originality here and it hurts the project. Everything is laid out for us and our cast simply populates space in a rather bland story. I say this, and I genuinely feel the movie lacks involving content, but the flipside of being “serviceable” comes in the fact that at its very best the movie is entertaining. Although this has been done before and the fight choreography seems to be ripped directly from Donnie Yen’s Ip Man, at least the fight scenes are interesting, even if the plot that got us into the fight isn’t.