The Legend Is Born – Ip Man 葉問前傳 (2010) – Hong Kong

Review by: Jerome Fawcett
Review date: 23rd September 2012
Edited by: Andrew Chan FCCA ACCTA

“The Legend Is Born – Ip Man” rides on the success the first two films detailing certain parts of Grandmaster Yip Man’s life. This is not necessarily a good thing since part of the film’s plot is somewhat of a rehash of the first film namely the Chinese vs. Japanese conflict.

“The Legend Is Born – Ip Man” partially chronicles the early life of Wing Chun Grandmaster Yip Man. However, it suffers from poor scriptwriting. Those who have seen the first film will wonder why the conflict between China and Japan is brought up yet again. It would seem as though they ran out of ideas. Director Herman Yau (“Turning Point”) managed to keep most of the film intact from the beginning, but the film suffers from a below par finale quarter and ultimately fall short of its expectations.

Dennis To lacks the screen presence to immerse himself in the role of Yip Man. He certainly is not up to the same standard as Donnie Yen’s in both Wilson Yip’s films. However, he has potential to be a big star. Despite this, his action scenes are actually pretty convincing especially with his notable Wing Chun and Wushu background. Crystal Huang portrays Yip Man’s girlfriend and eventual wife, but she is crucially underused and at times seem as thought she is being relegated to the sidelines. Louis Fan as usual gives a fine performance as the ‘adopted’ Yip brother, Yip Tin Chi, who is compelled to choose sides between his home country and his adopted family. Fan gets to showcase some of the better fight scenes of the movie, particularly using Wing Chun, Jujutsu and Karate. Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao are certainly no strangers to performing Wing Chun on-screen as seen in “The Prodigal Son”, “Warriors Two” and the mainland TV series: “Wing Chun”. In this film, Sammo portrays the aging master Chan Wah Shunwho is passing on his Wing Chun knowledge to the next generation. While, Yuen Biao portrays the uptight, traditionalist senior student Ng Chung So, who could easily be given more screen time. In her acting debut, Rose Chan isn’t given much of an opportunity to shine in her role as the younger sister, Lee Mei Wai. However, Chan has certainly shown enough potential to be given another opportunity to showcase her talent. Former TVB actress Bernice Liu (“Bad Blood”), gets to explore her evil character on-screen once again, as being part of the Japanese group invading Foshan.

The most interesting parts of “The Legend Is Born – Ip Man” are essentially how the Wing Chun theories are illustrated, the fight choreography by Tony Leung Siu Hung and the scene-stealing cameo appearance of Yip Chun and Yip Man’s eldest son playing the role of Leung Bik. If you can overlook the numerous flaws, there may still be a film for you to enjoy. (Jerome 2012)

Jerome rates it 6.5 /10

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