Have you ever? is a short look back at anything you might have missed from all over the pop culture world.
Ip Man is a semi-biographical film following the early years of a Chinese martial arts master living near Hong Kong in the time before and during the Japanese invasion in 1937. I have been watching action films for my entire life; my obsession, I believe, stemming from watching The Matrix when I was much younger. Martial arts, to me, were flashy high kicks and jumps and I loved it. Then I saw Ip Man.
Ip (that being his surname and not some sort of superhero name as I first thought) is a practitioner of a Southern Chinese style called Wing Chun and from the first fight in the film it is clear just how much it differs compared to the more famous Shaolin kung fu.
Gone are the soaring kicks and Bruce Lee noises, and in its place is a very calm and controlled fight style which is almost mesmerising in it’s composure. This is the film that inspired me to try and learn kung fu for myself and in turn has led me to watching (and, more importantly, appreciating) all the other famous martial arts movies.
To give you a brief synopsis of the film, Ip Man is living a life of luxury in China, being challenged left, right and centre by other martial artists but refusing to take any students. All of this changes when the Japanese invade China in the years preceding World War II. Ip is forced to search for any work he can find, managing to secure a job in some factory; the only purpose of which seems to be moving piles of coal from one place to another (but I’m not one to question how the Japanese work). It just so happens that the resident Japanese general is a big fan of martial arts and every day comes by to recruit some workers to fight in a makeshift competition. Driven by a desire for revenge, Ip goes along.
This next scene, which I won’t go into much detail about, marks the turning point of the film in which my outgoing texts changed from “Yeah this film is pretty good” to “OMG this is the best film I’ve ever seen!” (I possibly can’t repeat here what I actually wrote – but trust me, I was hyped).
One of my favourite things about this film is just how unassuming the main character is. He is such a quiet and polite man, who if given the chance would never hurt anyone. But he is forced to protect the people he loves, and he does so with ruthless efficiency.
I won’t gush anymore but I cannot recommend this movie enough – even the sequels aren’t bad if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy them for being a no nonsense kung fu film.
If you’ve already seen Ip Man (and the sequels) then why not venture into some more martial arts films?:-
Enter the Dragon (I will come back to this at a later date), Kung Fu Killer, The Raid