May 16, 2022 (NYC)– Not Really Ip Man But Still a Lot of Fun. Ip Man has become one of the great Chinese exports, and the subject of numerous films, of the last decade and a half, and the world can not get enough of these action packed, loosely based bio-pics. Ip Man: The Awakening (2022), is the latest film in a series of stories about the life and legacy of Bruce Lee’s legendary Wing Chu Master, Ip Man, to hit the US market this week. Here is a synopsis and review of this Well Go USA Entertainment release.
While visiting Hong Kong, a young Master Ip intervenes in a kidnapping attempt, unintentionally igniting a turf war with a ruthless human trafficking ring. In retaliation, the gang kidnaps one of Ip Man’s close friends, leaving him with no choice but to challenge the group’s notoriously brutal boxing champion head-on.
To be clear this is not part of the highly successful four part, Donnie Yen, series about the Chinese, Wing Chun legend. However, it is based upon the same character.
This film is a prequel of sorts to the Wilson Yip, Donnie Yen blockbusters. It takes place prior to the original Yen film, and prior to the unrelated film we previously reviewed, Ip Man: Kung Fu Master (2021). It further varies from the biographical authenticity of any of the prior films. This is a fictional tale featuring a real cultural and historical icon.
For those looking for more of Donnie Yen and the triumphant filmmaking of the four (4) unrelated films, you may be disappointed. However, for those looking to revisit this beloved character in a fun, action packed movie that is cinematically pleasing, this film is a winner. It is engaging from the opening action packed fight scene to the climactic final fight scene.
Miu Tse does a great job in the lead role. Unlike Dennis To’s Donnie Yen impression, Tse seems to channel Yen in his interpretation of the role. He does a good job of carrying the film. His fighting resembles Yen. His acting works. His martial arts is high level and very watchable.
The story line involves a young Ip Man’s blind quest for justice and righteousness as he takes on serious adversaries in an attempt to stop British, human trafficking out of Hong Kong. While his pursuit is righteous, Ip did not stop to consider the consequences and the collateral damage his actions caused. This sets up the dilemma posed by the film; what is the cost of justice?
The film’s fight choreography is mixed. Tse and some of his costars are clearly adept martial artists, but it seems many of the others are not. This leads to many choppy fight sequences and super close up shots, which deprive the audience of the full flavor of the fights. On the other hand the film manages to do a good job setting up a climactic fight scene which pits Wing Chun against Batitsu, the British martial art of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. This art blends Boxing, Japanese Jiujitsu, Savate, and Cane fighting. This fight scene is as close as the film gets to the original films.
The film, like many Chinese films, has many Nationalistic themes.
This film surprised me and I think it will surprise martial arts film fans, whether you have seen other Ip Man films or not.
I recommend it.
IP MAN: THE AWAKENING, the Well Go USA Entertainment release debuting exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-YAH! this Friday (May 20) before hitting Digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD June 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
The film contains English subtitles.
Watch IP MAN: THE AWAKENING early on Hi-YAH! (available May 20, 2022)
Miu Tse (My Father is a Hero)
Chen Guan Ying
Zhao Yu Xuan
Hao Yan Fei