Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 19th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: China, 2008
Director: Wilson Yip
Writer: Edmond Wong
Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Siu-Wong Fan, Ka Tung Lam, Yu Xing, You-Nam Wong, Chen Zhi Hui, Lynn Hung, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Yu-Hang To
DVD released: October 26th, 2009
Approximate running time: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese, Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese
DVD Release: Cine Asia / Showbox Media Group Ltd
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
The plot for Ip Man is loosely based on the life of Yip Man, one of the first martial artists to openly teach Wing Chun. The time period this film covers is the 1930’s and 1940’s. The bulk of the film revolves around the Japanese occupation of China and Ip Man’s refusal to teach Japanese soldiers, Wing Chun.
Bio films often walk a fine line as many of them take liberties when translating real life into something more cinematic. This is what appears to have happened with Ip Man, as the bulk of what occurs in the film actually never happened. Despite these embellishes, the end result is a moving story that never diminishes the legacy of Yip Man, whose life the film is loosely based on. If anything the film elevates its subject matter in a way that doing a completely faithfully bio film would have had difficulty doing so.
Casting for bio films can also pose many obstacles and thankfully for Ip Man, Donnie Yen the actor chosen to do this difficult task is up to the challenge as he totally immerses himself in the character. Not only does he excel during the film’s action set pieces, he also delivers during the film’s more dramatic moments. The standout moment in the film and a scene that you are not likely to forget anytime soon, is a scene where Ip Man becomes enraged after a friend of his who had been fighting in a martial arts exhibition with the Japanese, is shot in the head by one of the soldiers. Up to this point Ip Man has not lost control. Angered, he demands to fight 10 Japanese all at the same time. His systematic demolition of the Japanese fighters is symbolic of the brutality that the Chinese have suffered via the Japanese occupiers in the film. Besides Donnie Yen Tour De Force performance as Ip Man, the rest of the cast are all exceptional in the respective roles. Ultimately Ip Man is an extraordinary martial arts film that perfectly balances action and drama.
Cine Asia presents Ip Man in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original scope aspect ratio. Colors look nicely saturated, the flesh tones look healthy and accurate, black levels and details look strong throughout. This transfer fares well in every area with its only misstep being, that it has not been flagged for progressive playback. For the most part all ghosting / blurring is minimal and never distracting.
This release comes with two audio options, Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese and Dolby Digital stereo Cantonese. Both audio mixes sound crystal clear and robust, especially during the fight sequences. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Extras on disc one include a teaser, a trailer and two T.V. Spots for the film. The remaining extras on disc one are other trailers for films also available on DVD from Cine Asia. The bulk of the extras are on disc two. Extras on disc two include 5 deleted scenes titled, “Bike Ride” (18 seconds), “Tea House” (57 seconds), “Informing on Ip Man” (1 minute 34 seconds), “Attacked by the Mob” (47 seconds) and “Honorable End” (1 minute 1 second). All of these scenes touch upon things that are explored in the theatrical cut of the film, except the “Honorable End” in which the Japanese general who organized all the Japanese verse Chinese marital exhibitions, commits hari-kari. Other extras includes a brief segment titled “Gala Premiere Footage” (1 minute 48 seconds), an interview gallery with which includes interviews from director Wilson Yip (23 minutes 10 seconds), actors Donnie Yen (22 minutes 7 seconds), Lam Ka Tung (8 minutes 55 seconds), Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (7 minutes 43 seconds), Fan Siu-Wong (4 minutes 48 seconds), Simon Yam (2 minutes 52 seconds), actress Xiong Dai-lin (7 minutes 47 seconds), action director Sammo Hung (8 minutes and 1 second) and segment that is listed as interview with Ip Chun (Ip Man’s son) which also includes comments from other cast and crew members. The two most interesting interviews are with Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen who discuss their previous collaborations, Bruce Lee, Wing Chun, Ip Man, how they got involved in this project and their thoughts on the other cast members. The other interviews mostly focus on each of the participants experiences working on this film. Also include on disc two is a featurette titled “From Ip Man to Bruce Lee – Tracing the Legacy” (14 minutes 21 seconds), while some information about each man contributions to martial arts, the bulk of this extra is spent demonstrating various Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do moves. Other extras include two making of segments titled “Pre Production” (2 minute 1 second) and “Shooting Dairy” (3 minutes 25 seconds) and three location / set design segments titled “The Foshan Cotton Mill” (2 minutes 22 seconds), “Foshan’s Main Street” (2 minutes) and “Mo Goon Street, Ip Man’s Residence” (2 minutes 3 seconds). These are your standard behind the scenes glimpses that are nice to have even though they are more visual then informative. Rounding out the extras is a “Making of” featurette (18 minutes 33 seconds), which includes comments from the cast and crew. Some of the information is covered in other extras also included with this release. Overall Ip Man gets a well rounded DVD release from Cine Asia.