Ip Man: The Legend is Born (2010)

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Released 2-Mar-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 95:44
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Herman Yau

Madman Entertainment
Starring To Yue Hang
Fan Siu Wong
Sammo Hung
Huang Yi
Rose Chan
Xu Jiao
Ip Chun
Yuen Biao
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Mak Chun Hung

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, a pipe for an old man!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Foshan China 1905. As a favour to their father, Master Chan Wah Shun (Sammo Hung) accepts into his Wing Chun school Ip Man and his foster brother Ip Tin Chi, where they form a close bond with young girl Lee Mei Wai. Ten years later Wah Shun has died, leaving the school to be run by the traditionalist Ng Chung So (Yuen Biao). Tin Chi (Fan Siu Wong) is in love with Mei Wai (Rose Chan), but she only has eyes for Man (To Yue Hang). However, Man meets Cheung Wing Shun (Huang Yi) and the attraction is mutual but he has to leave to go to college in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, Man meets, and is mentored by, the aged Leung Bik (Ip Chun), from whom he learns that moves from wrestling and kicking can be added to Wing Chun techniques to create a powerful combination.

     In 1919 Man returns to Foshan to find that the Japanese have extended their influence into the businesses of the city, not to mention the city officials, and that Tin Chi is now a successful businessman. However, Chung So is extremely hostile to Man’s new fangled moves, believing that any deviation from traditional Wing Chun moves is wrong. On a personal level, however, things go better for Man as he is reacquainted with Wing Shun and they declare their love. Mei Wai, realising she cannot have Man, accepts Tin Chi. On their wedding night, however, a prominent Chinese leader is murdered and Man is implicated and arrested. But it appears that Tin Chi has a secret that may just be the key to unlocking the mystery.

     Asian action star Donnie Yen has made a couple of films staring as Ip Man, Grandmaster of the Wing Chun style, anti-Japanese Chinese Nationalist and Bruce Lee’s mentor. They were so successful that Ip Man: The Legend is Born is one result. This time, the role of the young Ip Man is taken by To Yue Hang who is a kung fu champion. He does not yet have Donnie Yen’s presence and charisma and seems to have been selected for the role due to his resemblance to Yen but he does move and fight well. While his acting is a bit wooden, this is not necessarily a bad thing as the plot has him portraying a rather focussed and studious character. As well, some plot points are clichéd, such as the Westerner at the hockey who is taken to task by Man for anti-Chinese statements, while the love interest triangle is laboured; neither Rose Chan or Huang Yi are particularly convincing and scenes of Wing Shun and Man walking, secretly pining away with Greensleeves on the soundtrack, are maudlin to say the least.

     Yet, Ip Man: The Legend is Born is a very entertaining film with humour and energetic and inventive action sequences that utilise Wing Chun, acrobatics and wire work that is traditional enough to recall the heyday of the Golden Harvest studio kung fu classics. In both one on one contests, or against a group of Japanese, To Yue Hang acquits himself well while Fan Siu Wong is also excellent. Another interest in this film is watching veteran movie martial arts practitioners like the great Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao strutting their stuff. They have been working together on and off for years and it is wonderful to see them in action again. Indeed, it was all of 30 years ago, in 1981, that they collaborated on The Prodigal Son, a film that showcased the Wing Chun techniques and was perhaps one of the all time great martial arts films. While Sammo is not around for long in Ip Man: The Legend is Born, his blindfolded spar with Yuen Biao is great fun. Biao, on the other hand, is in the full movie and his acrobatics and athleticism for a man now over 50 years old is a marvel to watch. Also of interest is seeing Ip Man’s real life son Ip Chun playing his father’s teacher! For a man over 85, his moves have to be seen to be believed.

     Ip Man: The Legend is Born is not a Donnie Yen film, but it is still a worthy addition to the Ip Man canon. It is an excellent, entertaining, old fashioned film with fights done for real. It is also a chance to watch again a couple of the greatest martial artists who have ever graced the movie screen: Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. They are worth the price of the DVD alone.

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Transfer Quality


     Ip Man: The Legend is Born is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is ok but not one you would use to show off your system. The title sequence is deliberately scratchy and jumpy, the following 10 minutes or so almost a sepia coloured print. These are deliberate choices, yet even when the film moves to the “present” (i.e., 1915 – 1920) the colours are still dull and hardly vibrant, with browns and dull yellows dominant and only the reds showing much brightness. However, skin tones looked natural, brightness was consistent, blacks solid and shadow detail acceptable. Sections of the film looked razor sharp, yet other sequences were less sharp and contrast was rather soft.

     Grain is present but, except for some aliasing on steps (1:45) and blinds (22:32), artefacts were absent. The end titles, however, had a shimmer that made them not all that easy to read.

     English subtitles are in a yellow font. They are in English English and I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     The layer change at 83:22 resulted in a tiny pause.

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


     Audio is a choice of Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps or Cantonese dts 5.1 at 754 Kbps. Again this is not one to test the system. In the dts dialogue is clear and centred, the punches and kicks had a satisfying thud, and the surrounds carried some ambient noise but primarily music. The sub woofer was rarely troubled. The Dolby Digital was recorded at a lower level and seemed quite flat by comparison.

     Lip synchronisation was occasionally off but was not distracting.

     The orchestral score by Mak Chun Hung was also quite old fashioned; it was not intrusive and suited the film well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Making of Ip Man: The Legend is Born (13:22)

     This could have been better. It shows behind the scenes footage of the stunts and wire work which is interesting but there is no linking narration. Instead various actors talk mainly about their characters, but while their Chinese is translated by yellow English subtitles, the Chinese captions telling just who is speaking are not. Some of those talking are recognisable from the film, others less so. Ok to watch once.

Theatrical Trailer (1:59)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Madman: Grandmaster Ip Man (1:25), A Million (1:44), Survive Style 5+ (1:36) and Death Trance (2:30).

R4 vs R1

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

     I cannot currently find a Region 1 US edition of the film. There is a Region 2 UK release with cast interviews, but the pick would be the Region 0 Hong Kong release that has a dts 6.1 audio, a commentary by the director Herman Yau and Master Ip Chun, the “making of” and trailer. There is also a Region All HK Blu-ray with the same extras. Both HK releases have English subtitles for the feature but I cannot say if the commentary and making of are subtitled. As such, I’d stick to Region 4 for English speakers.


     Ip Man: The Legend is Born is an entertaining film with humour and energetic and inventive action sequences that utilise Wing Chun, acrobatics and wire work. It is also a chance to watch again a couple of the greatest martial artists who have ever graced the movie screen: Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.

     The video and audio get the job done, the extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def 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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