After the kapow kick-netics of Raymond Wong’s two Donnie Yen-starring “Ip Man” origin films, Herman Yau’s 2010 prequel, ” The Legend Is Born: Ip Man” (Yip Man chinchyun) doesn’t hit new heights but it remains a big-screen eyeful, the kind of efficiently choreographed martial-arts action scenes that are joyful in any format. There’s talk among the characters about keeping the history of Wing Chun fighting to the “authentic styles”—anti-Japanese sentiments are bruited—but even the eldest characters concede that the lessons that will be handed down will be blended with other influences, and from those, decades in progress, voila, we have Bruce Lee, trained by a master. It’s a diverting programmer while we wait: isn’t Wong Kar-Wai’s edition of these legends, “The Grandmasters,” done yet? (Fall 2012, maybe.) The casting includes convoluted in-jokes that were explained to me, including a cameo by Ip Man’s eighty-six-year-old son Ip Chun. With Siu-Wong Fan, Yi Huang, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Tin Chiu Hung. 100m. (Ray Pride)
“The Legend Is Born: Ip Man” plays Friday and Saturday midnights at the Music Box. A trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.