Ip Man (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 4-May-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-The US trailer for the film
Theatrical Trailer-Original Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes
Trailer-x 3 for other releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 106:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Wilson Yip
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Donnie Yen
Simon Yam
Xiong Dai-lin
Fan Sui-wong
Lam Ka Tung
Hiroyuki Ikeuchi


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Kenji Kawai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Cantonese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Mandarin DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Ip Man is the rather rose coloured glasses story of the Grandmaster of the Wing Chun style, anti-Japanese Chinese Nationalist and Bruce Lee’s mentor. The film, directed by Yip Wai-shun (aka Wilson Yip) is episodic in nature and falls into two distinct sections; before and after the Japanese occupation.

     Fo Shan in southern China in 1935 is a renowned centre of Chinese martial arts with a number of rival schools. The best martial artist is Wing Chun master Ip Man (Donny Yen), but he declines to teach, preferring to practice and only fighting when challenged, although his wife Cheung (Xiong Dai-lin) feels that her husband neglects her and their young son. Ip is well respected, including by police Captain Li (Lam Ka Tung), and is wealthy, lending money to Quan (Simon Yam) to allow him to start a cotton mill. Jin (Fan Sui-wong), an arrogant bully and northern fighter, arrives in Fo Shan; he defeats the masters of the various schools then challenges Ip Man. Ip refuses to fight, even under Jin’s goading, but with Cheung’s blessing he finally takes on and defeats Jin, to the acclaim of the other masters. Ip’s popularity is assured, although he still refuses to teach.

     In 1938 the Japanese army occupied Fo Shan. Ip’s house was confiscated and Ip and his wife and son, as well as the majority of the Chinese who remained in the city, were reduced to homelessness and starvation and suffer from random acts of violence by the Japanese. Li, however, has found work with the Japanese as a translator, although he is considered a traitor by the other Chinese. The Japanese general in charge of the city is Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), a kung fu expert, and he offers the Chinese masters a bag of rice if they can defeat one of his soldiers. Some accept but Ip does not until a friend is beaten to death in a contest with Miura. Ip shows his skills but becomes a marked man by the Japanese leading to a duel in public with Miura to see which martial arts technique, Japanese or Chinese, is superior.

     Ip Man is a marvellous film with impressive fight sequences, decent acting, great sets and a memorable score. Ip Man won best action choreography awards in numerous places, including both the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan in 2009. The action director is the great Sammo Hung and he delivers a film which features a combination of physical action in various styles, including Wing Chun, and limited wire work which is traditional enough to recall the heyday of the Golden Harvest studio kung fu classics, although there is also slow motion and speeded up photography which results in a breathtaking and intense experience. Sammo does know a bit about Wing Chun; way back in 1981 he directed The Prodigal Son, a film that focussed on Wing Chun techniques and is one of the all-time great martial arts films.

     The character of Ip Man is a showcase for the action and acting talents of Donnie Yen. He is a wonderful martial artist who deserves to be better known in the West, certainly by more than just martial arts film fans. He has gone head to head with Jet Li in arguably one of the greatest one-on-one kung fu sequences ever filmed in Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1993), returning to fight Li again in Hero (2002). He remains the most prolific “go to” kung fu man in Chinese cinema with credits including Painted Skin (2008), Bodyguards and Assassins (2009) and 14 Blades (2010), to name just a few. But as well as his martial arts ability Yen has charisma on screen and the quieter and reflective sequences with Xiong Dai-lin in Ip Man are poignant and tell a lot about the character.

     The sets of Ip Man, both the interiors and the exteriors, filmed in Shanghai, are beautifully detailed, adding a rich air of authenticity. Just as rich and beautiful is the score by Kenji Kawai, an experienced composer with 180 credits currently listed on the IMDb. Kawai scored Ghost in the Shell but his range runs from TV anime such as Eden of the East (2009), to big screen adaptations (the Gantz films (2009 / 2010)), to horror (Ring (1998)) to historical action epics (Tsui Hark’s Seven Swords (2005) or Saving General Yang (2013)). In Ip Man the score combines traditional instruments (both Chinese and Japanese) with orchestral sections that add feeling without ever being bombastic or overwhelming.

     Wilson Yip had worked with Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and Simon Yam before in the impressive action film SPL (2005). They obviously enjoyed the experience and Ip Man is the culmination of their collective skills and abilities, a modern martial arts classic.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Ip Man is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The detail of the sets, both interior and exterior, is impressively rich and the majority of close-ups are also firm. The decision was made by the filmmakers, however, to have a different colour palate for the two sections. In the early “Chinese” section the colours, especially the exteriors such as trees, are more natural although a lot of the interior scenes in Ip’s house have a yellow / brown filter applied. When the Japanese arrive the colours are removed and grey becomes the dominant palate, the tree leaves also much duller. This is however not consistent, with some interior scenes with Ip and his wife remaining brown. This switching does become noticeable and a bit distracting. Blacks however are solid and shadow detail fine. In the Japanese scenes of the fights in the prison there is also evidence of noise reduction and / or grain, and edge enhancement which does not occur in the Chinese sections.

     American English subtitles are in a clear white font. They were error free.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Feature audio options are English, Cantonese and Mandarin, all Dolby True-HD 5.1.

     I listened to the Cantonese track, and sampled the English dub. In both the dialogue was clear and the surrounds and rears were in frequent use with music, crowd noises, fireworks and, during the fight sequences, impacts and the whoosh of kicks. The sub-woofer added depth to impacts as well as the music. The English dub was OK for those who hate subtitles, but lacked the intensity of the Cantonese.

     As noted above, the score by Kenji Kawai is fabulous; it is well represented in the audio mix and is an essential part of the film experience.

     There were minor lip synchronisation issues during the Cantonese dub, but nothing distracting. The lip synchronisation in the English dub is indifferent, as one might expect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Start-up Trailers

    Trailers for The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (1:02), Whitewall (2:01) and 9th Company (1:37) play on start-up. The latter two trailers can also be selected from the menu.

Trailer (1:46)

    The US trailer for the film.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:18)

    As it says.

Making Of (18:33)

     A Chinese featurette with film and on-set footage, photography and interviews in Chinese (subtitled, with a few errors). One drawback is that the speakers are identified only by Chinese characters on the screen so sometimes you do not know who is speaking; they did however include the director Wilson Yip (Yip Wai-shun), fight choreographer Sammo Hung, cast members Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Xiong Dai-lin, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Fan Sui-wong, Wong You-nam and the son of Ip Man. Items covered include Yen mastering Wing Chun, being true to the character, the fights, fight choreography and the intention of the director and star. Well worth a look.

Deleted Scenes (3:19)

     Three deleted scenes with limited audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This Region B Blu-ray of Ip Man is identical to the Well Go USA Region A Blu-ray feature disc, right down to the FBI piracy warning and Well Go logo. However, that release also adds a Region 1 DVD to the package which includes interviews with the director and cast (approx. 69 min), a shooting diary (5:27) and three behind the set items (approx. 6 minutes).

Summary

     Ip Man reunites director Wilson Yip, actors Donnie Yen and Simon Yam and action director Sammo Hung to create a modern martial arts classic about Ip Man, the Grandmaster of the Wing Chun style, anti-Japanese Chinese Nationalist and Bruce Lee’s mentor. The characters are interesting, the sets and music wonderful, the martial arts action well-staged, physical and intense, and Donnie Yen impressive.

     The video is manipulated, the audio good, the extras worthwhile. Fans of Donnie Yen or Sammo Hung, or any martial arts fan or, indeed, anyone looking for impressive action, will enjoy this Blu-ray package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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