Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen in 'Ip Man 2'

The style and techniques involved in making classic action movies in Asia may have been co-opted by the world, but the continent is still fully capable of producing its own modern standard-bearers. Biographical martial arts pic Ip Man came out at the tail end of 2008 in Asia, winning both popular and critical acclaim, and gaining good notices at festival and other limited releases. (It just came out on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.S.)

The sequel, Ip Man 2, came out in Asia at the end of April and has been showcased as the opening night attraction for the New York Asian Film Festival, a featured attraction at FanTasia in Canada (where it won an audience award), and as the centerpiece presentation at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, which made it possible for me to see it. Like its predecessor, Ip Man 2 stars Donnie Yen as the titular character, a master of the martial art of Wing Chun. Following World War II, Ip Man moves his family to Hong Kong, where he intends to start a martial arts school. He is strongly resisted by the other martial arts masters in town, who question his skills and then demand a monthly stipend for their approval. Emotions remain contentious until a bloodthirsty American boxing champion arrives for a demonstration and kills a respected master in the ring. Differences are set aside as Ip Man fights for the honor of all Chinese people against American imperialism.

For action junkies of all nationalities, the first hour or so of the picture is glorious, highlighted by something I've never seen before.
categories Features, Cinematical