Movie review: Ip returns in ‘Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster’

Sammo Hung, left, and Donnie Yen in "Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster."
(Variance Films / Well Go USA)
Special to the Los Angeles Times

“Ip Man” told the fact-based origins of how a man named, yes, Ip Man learned the ways of Wing Chun kung fu, and the sequel “Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster” moves forward to 1940s Hong Kong under British colonial occupation.

With director Wilson Yip, screenwriter Edmond Wong and star Donnie Yen all returning, the film’s fight choreography is again handled by the legendary Sammo Hung — he also now has a supporting role and incredibly shot his own fight scenes while recuperating from heart surgery — and that alone makes the film worth checking out.

The fights are not over-edited the way a Hollywood-style action sequence would be, but rather much of the action happens within the frame itself, feet and hands flying about with strong, decisive camera movements often giving the scenes an unexpectedly graceful quality. A sequence in which Ip must fight a series of martial arts masters, each with a different fighting style, ending with Yen and Hung in a dazzling series of moves atop a small round table, is rather breathtaking.

A long, long climactic sequence in which Ip fights a British boxer causes the film’s story to lose much of its forward momentum before an epilogue in which Ip is introduced to the boy who would become his most famous pupil, Bruce Lee.


More slick mainland melodrama than rough-and-ready chop-socky picture, “Ip Man 2" often finds itself struggling to reconcile those conflicting impulses between drizzly emotional moments and slap-happy frenzy.