Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ip Man (part 1 and 2) (2008, 2010)

Donnie Yen versus Sammo Hung? 'Nuff said :) There would be a blast :)

This movie try to pack two things: Who Ip Man is and what on Earth Wing Chun is. Let me start with the latter.

Wing Chun is southern kung fu style which focuses on medium to short range combat (but not grappling or ground as far as I know). Due to its "sourthern"-ness, it has more punch techniques than kick. But this is easy to explain. Let's say you want to hit an opponent in chest who is about 20 cm from you. Which one do you think will travel faster, your hand or your leg? Unless you're Mr. Fantastic of Fantastic 4, I bet it's your hand :D

However, according to a legend, it was created by a nun and taught initially to a girl. So, in short, it's "girly" martial art. Ok boys, what do you think? You think you would be feminine, no? Just like when you wanna learn ballet and a friend of yours said "oh man, you're not going to be a gay, right?" :D

But make no mistake, wing chun could be as aggresive as other kind of kungfu style or martial art dicipline. Its rules are: hit center line, economy of motion (why use two steps if you can hit in one step?), deflect and hit at the same time, power through relaxation. The speed and reflexes are built during the so called "chi sao" drill.

OK, then who's Ip Man? Guys, just for a record, it's "Ip" like "eep", not IP as IP address, k? :) We're not talking about low level computer networking here.

Ip Man is well known as (probably) the first person who spread Wing Chun globally. Initially Wing Chun is "exclusive" style. It's passed from father to son or closed relatives only. Teachers were so picky when taking outside students.

But Ip Man turned the table upside down. He believed that martial art is not something that should be hide inside a room. Other people are allowed to study and practice it. One of the most famous students of Ip Man is no other than Bruce Lee. In fact, in a book titled "Tao of Jeet Kune Do", I read somewhere that Bruce admit Jeet Kune Do (his own martial art style) was built upon Wing Chun. So you can imagine how much Ip Man influenced Bruce Lee in kungfu.

Ip Man was latest student of Chen Hua Shen, a grand master of Wing Chun. Later, he also studied from Leung Bik, which was latter known as son Leung Jan, Chen Hua Shen's teacher. Ip Man combines both teachings to create better style.

Bored with the background? OK, here's the actions:
- Ip Man versus ten black belt karatekas. Great choreography. Donnie nicely smash them all using efficient technique: head stomp, thigh smash, elbow lock, you name it. 4 guys coming at you? No problem, Donnie takes them all with blinding speed :)

- Ip Man versus Japanese general: power versus agility. The general started with a f***ng fast front kick...I think it's the same kick he used to smash back a kungfu master earlier in Ip Man 1. But Ip Man calmly deflect with the low X block. Ip Man cleverly close the gap and punched him from nearly every angle. Last, Donnie made the general as a living wooden dummy :)

- Ip Man on table fight: 1st fight: praying mantis+monkey style, 2nd fight: ba gua, 3rd (which is vs Sammo): Hung gar a.k.a tiger crane style, the same style used by Wong Fei Hung. Again, during fight vs Sammo, Wing Chun shows that power is not a determinant factor to win a fight.

Fancy styles? Forget it.... wing chun clearly shows that you don't need to be able to do 720 degree flying butterfly twist+kick just to knock out somebody. A fast elbow to the chin or standing leg sweep are more than enough to send your enemy into emergency room :D After all, are you sure you can land that fancy kick right into your opponent nose.

- Ip Man vs western boxer (I wish he was Van Damme in his glory days). Now this is really hand vs hand technique. Great, but not as great Donnie vs Sammo in my opinion. What you'll see here is the chain punch technique delivered all over the boxer. Really fast... somebody said in a forum, instinctly human will get "panic" when punched like that. And will be forced to either retreat or do lucky blow.

All in all, Ip Man 1 and 2 is deserved to accompany your weekend. I gave it 7. Fair enough, huh?



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