Grandmaster Ip Man (2008)

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Released 5-Aug-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Wing Chun History
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Scene Walkthrough x 3
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Gala Premiere
Featurette-Donnie Yen Preparing For IP Man
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 102:07
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Wilson Yip
Mandarin Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Donnie Yen
Simon Yam
Siu-Wong Fan
Ka Tung Lam
Yu Xing
You-Nam Wong
Chen Zhi Hui
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Kenji Kawai

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Grandmaster Ip Man is a biopic of the legendary Ip Man for the period of his life that leads into the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Second World War. He was the first Wing Chun grand master and teacher of Bruce Lee.

    Ip Man (Donnie Yen, in what is sure to be his signature role for years to come) was a reasonably well to do chap, who grew up in the martial arts district of Foshan. There he was a respected fighter, but chose not to train other fighters (in part to placate his disapproving wife). After losing everything in the Japanese invasion of the 1937, Ip Man struggles as a day labourer. He finds trouble with the Japanese when he investigates the disappearance of an old friend who has become involved in prize-fighting with the military. Running from that trouble, he begins to work in a cotton factory that he had helped finance years earlier. There he trains his fellow workers to defend themselves from bandits and the Japanese. Eventually the Japanese catch up with Ip Man, which leads to a grand show fight that becomes a point of national pride.

    Grandmaster Ip Man was a bona fide blockbuster throughout Asia, winning Best Picture at this years Hong Kong film awards along the way, and it is easy to see why. The film tells an underdog story that is easy to relate to, it is filled with cultural pride (bordering proaganda, but enjoyable nonetheless) and some of the best martial arts action scenes to land on the screens in the last decade. Unsurprisingly a string of sequels are well on their way.

    Donnie Yen and the rest of the key martial arts cast are spectacular in their performance, particularly Ip Man's tough-guy rival played by Siu-Wong Fan (who some may remember from cult classic The Story of Ricki). Sammo Hung has designed some truly breathtaking fight choreography for the film (but don't believe the quote on the back of the box that suggests this is all wireless fu) and just about every conceivable type of brawl is featured; one-on-one, many-on-one, bare-fist, bladed weapons, blunt weapons, ad-hoc furniture as weapons. Furthermore it is all stylishly photographed.

    The dramatic side to the story holds up equally as well as the action. Yen is excellent and the supporting cast features several solid performances. Simon Yam, owner of the cotton mill, and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, the honourable-but-nonetheless-evil Japanese general, are particularly memorable in their roles.

    Grandmaster Ip Man is essential viewing for any action fan.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video generally looks good, but a little over-compressed. The image is clear and sharp. Grain is minimal. Moderate edge enhancement is visible. The colour palette used features a lot of stylised warm brown tones that look good in this transfer, but the shadows look a little crushed and lack fine detail.

    Moderate pixelation is visible throughout, and detail is frequently lost in soft focus backgrounds. The video is free of film artefacts.

    The film features clear, easy to read English subtitles that provide a good translation of the dialogue's meaning rather than a literal translation.

    This is a RSDL disc with a layer break at 82:27, although it was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The film features a single predominantly Cantonese (with a little Japanese) Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio track.

    The audio is clear and crisp. The dialogue is well placed in the mix and easy to understand. The film features a fairly stock-standard orchestral score that is well placed in the mix. The audio is in perfect sync to the video.

    The film puts the surrounds to good use, primarily for environmental effects, and creates an immersive sound field. The subwoofer is put to reasonable use, although it is primarily for bangs and thumps without any real subtlety.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Wing Chun: The Legacy of IP Man Featurette

    A great featurette that introduces viewers to the martial art of Wing Chun, including outlining how it is culturally different to other martial arts, as well as providing a bit of history about Ip Man's establishment of more formal Wing Chun training.

Audio Commentary By Wing Chung Instructor David Peterson

    A reasonably interesting commentary from Australian Wing Chung master David Peterson. Though it is a little marred by patches of dead air, this commentary makes for rather interesting listening as it comes from a cultural perspective rather than a film-making perspective.

Making Of Featurette (18:33)

    A broad "making of" featurette that ticks all the boxes: stunts, acting, special effects, the costumes, the story, the importance of the film, yadda yadda yadda. Well worth a look for fans of the film.

Deleted Scenes

    Five deleted/extended scenes, each running between one and two minutes. A couple provide some dark turns to the story, particularly the Japanese side of it.

Donnie Yen Preparing for the Role of IP Man Featurette

    Primarily an interview with Donnie Yen about his preparation for the role, as well as training footage that illustrates the lengths Yen went to to learn the martial art in the months leading up to filming. Worth a look.

Gala Premiere Featurette (1:33)

    A rather pointless collection of footage from the film's red-carpet premiere. filler.

Scene Walkthrough (6:25)

    Specific "making of" featurettes that focus on the on-set production of three major action scenes in the film. Fascinating stuff as it demonstrates how many of the physical effects and fight choreography were conducted. The elaborate nature of the sets can also be seen in these featurettes and they are particularly impressive.

Interviews - Cast & Crew (85:25)

    Lengthy interviews with half a dozen of the film's stars, it's action choreographer (Sammo Hung and director (Wilson Yip). Fascinating stuff, but possibly too much for a lot of viewers to wade through. Many of these guys have little different to say.


    Two theatrical trailers and TV spots. Pretty run-of-the-mill historical action flick style trailerage.

R4 vs R1

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

    This film is yet to be released in Region 1.

    The most appropriate point of comparison internationally is the 2-disc Hong Kong Region 0 and UK Region 2 editions, though it is hard to pick a clear winner. The Hong Kong and UK editions are nearly identical in terms of extra features, however the HK edition features an 6.1 DTS soundtrack as well as 5.1 Dolby Digital. The Region 4 edition actually features more special features than the 2-disc versions, although they have been (heavily) compressed onto the one disc. The Audio Commentary is missing from the international versions, and the Wing Chun "Legacy" featurette appears to be regionalised on the Region 4 release. In a nutshell, the Region 4 edition arguably wins in terms of features but the International versions feature less compressed video and will probably look better to many viewers.


    A cracking martial arts picture, the likes of which aren't seen often enough nowadays. Old-school physical action rather than CGI madness.

    The video is good, but has evidently been heavily compressed to fit onto a single disc. The audio is excellent. The extras package is enormous and contains little pure filler.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Friday, November 27, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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Good movie - REPLY POSTED