Movie Review – Ip Man Movie Series (2008-Present)

Holy Crap, 3.5 readers.

Once in awhile a nerd blogger gets to discover something that is under the radar and share it with his 3.5 readers so that they too may take part in the joy.

And my new joy is…Ip Man!!!

Put on some loose clothing and start practicing your sweet kung fu moves, because BQB is here with a review of the Ip Man movie series.


I’ve seen this movie on Netflix for years and like many films, I just shrugged my shoulders and went, “Meh.”  Due to my lack of understanding of the Chinese language, I assumed “Ip Man” was some kind of superhero.  I thought the title was “IP man” as if he saves artists from the infringement of their intellectual property or something but no.  I was wrong.

I’ve long been a fan of martial arts movies so I finally got around to giving this one a try and wow.

These films are based on the life of Ip Man (in English his last name is Ip and his first name is Man) the legendary Master of Wing Chun Kung Fu.  Wing Chun, as I’ve learned through the power of Google, is a style that relies on defense and is especially effective in close quarter combat.  Also, it was invented by a woman, so there you go, ladies.

In reality, “Master Ip” is considered one of the great practitioners of Wing Chun, having done a great deal to promote it, including teaching it to his most well-known student, Bruce Lee.

The films are produced out of Hong Kong and have English subtitles, but otherwise they feature the special effects, moves and sound of any Hollywood blockbuster.  I’m no historian but I do assume some “liberties” are taken with the history of Master Ip’s life as he does things that no human could probably do but that’s ok.  Movies do that with historical figures all the time.

Ip Man 1 (2008) begins with a young Master Ip (Donnie Yen) who lives an affluent life in fo Shan, a place that is prosperous, allowing the residents to pursue martial arts in their spare time.

Alas, World War II breaks out and the Japanese attack and take over.  Master Ip and his family and friends are left to live lousy, destitute lives filled with hunger and fear.

People are so hungry that they are willing to take rice in exchange for becoming a Japanese general’s punching bags as he practices karate.  Master Ip gets his chance to avenge fo Shan, but must choose between practicality and letting the general win or honor and beating his ass.

In Ip Man 2 (2010), Master Ip and family move to Hong Kong, where the master opens up a Wing Chun school.  He scraps with local kung fu masters who feel he must prove his worthiness before joining them in opposing a Western British boxer who insults them and kills one of their beloved masters.

Finally, I haven’t seen Ip Man 3 (2015) yet.  Based on the above preview, Ip Man fights Mike Tyson.  I’m a little confused by that.  I assume Mike Tyson plays a historical character or something.  I don’t think Master Ip gets in a time machine to fight Mike in the present.

I’ll have to watch it and get back to you.  Often, kung fu films are high on action and low in plot, but the first two films break that trend.  So I’m hoping an awesome story that involves Mike Tyson is worked in.

Even if it isn’t, I could over look it as honestly, the Ip vs Mike scene does look pretty awesome.

Donnie Yen, the actor/martial artist who plays Master Ip deserves a lot of props.  In true kung fu style, he is stoic and focused, never looking for a fight but ending it once it starts.  He comes across as someone who is reflective and studied, who uses martial arts as a manner of being disciplined, but isn’t one to let atrocity go unchecked.

They’re great films.  The only thing I’d note is apparently a number of studios, seeing this series’ success, have created their own Ip Man films.  I haven’t seen them so they may be fine, but be sure to watch the Donnie Yen films first.

Donnie Yen really needs to come to America and kick some ass in Hollywood.  He’s got the moves and the fight scenes (which are not skimped on and come practically every few minutes) are brilliant, breathtaking and a fun spectacle to watch.  He does this thing where he gets his opponent locked down, then delivers a hail of rapid fire punches, something I’ve never seen in a movie before.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Available on Netflix.  My nerd style is far superior to your geek style.

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13 thoughts on “Movie Review – Ip Man Movie Series (2008-Present)

  1. Mei-Mei says:

    I don’t know why I haven’t seen these yet. I know they’re on Netflix, and I love kung fu movies. Also, Donnie Yen is going to be in the new Star Wars movie Rogue One, which looks awesome, so maybe that will finally motivate me to watch them.

    • Is he really? That’s awesome. He’s in his fifties which inspires me. I’m not near fifties yet but I have often felt the pressure of “I didn’t make it by 30 so I should quit.”

      Then again maybe he did make it in China a long time ago and I’m just hearing of him now.

      I’ve seen them on Netflix for years but I misunderstood and thought “Ip Man” sounds like a dumb name for a superhero.

      Oh well. My mistake.

      Not to let the cat out of the bag but I discovered some clips on YouTube while doing some research for a potential BQB project and then decided I had to watch them.

      • Mei-Mei says:

        Ip Man really does sound like a terrible superhero.

      • Donnie Yen has an incredible CV. Just go to IMDb and check it. He also has another seven upcoming and planned movie projects on hand. Just finished filming “Chasing The Dragon”. The man is a workaholic with an insane tempo. In one year now Ip Man 3, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Rouge One and xXx. His first movie came in 1984 when he worked with Yuan Woo Ping.

      • Cool, I think we have found a shared respect for Donnie Yen. If you like kung fu, check out my novel in progress, Zom Fu!

  2. Reblogged this on Bookshelf Battle and commented:


    …Ip Man. Donnie Yen is a bad ass and the best on screen martial artist I’ve seen in a long time. Go Netflix all three films now.

  3. thesight2016 says:

    The original Ip Man movie might be the best movie I have ever seen. Really. I thought it was incredibly moving from beginning to end, and some people really aren’t aware of the Japanese occupation of China around the time of the second World War, so it’s also an interesting perspective of the time period.
    This may sound ridiculous, but sometimes I turn the movie on just to skip ahead to the best fight scenes to pump myself up for a workout. What can I say? I guess Donnie Yen just does it for me. Ha! The scene where he fights ten Japanese fighters to avenge the death of his friend is some seriously powerful imagery. I have a moderate background in martial arts, so that may be why the movie gets me so amped; it would be amazing to be able to move like Donnie! Although, I will admit I have a very minimal understanding of Wing Chun specifically, as I trained primarily in Hapkido. And yes, that’s trained, as in past-tense, but I do really want to get back on my feet and start training again!
    Needless to say, I found your post to be interesting and engaging. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, yeah I really liked the movies. The original is the best, the sequels get increasingly unlikely though the action scenes are pretty awesome. For example, kinda doubtful the real Ip Man fought someone like Mike Tyson yet the Ip vs. Tyson scene was pretty awesome.

      Donnie Yen is my new hero because he’s over 50 yet looks young. Ahh, if only I’d realize the power of working out and exercising at a younger age.

      Hey if you like martial arts I hope you’ll check out the novel I’m working on, Zom Fu.

      • thesight2016 says:

        Sure! Let me at it.

      • The movies are actually more fiction than biopics. Very loosely based on the real life of the grandmaster. Donnie Yen probably displays a lot of himself as well. The humbleness and the Konfucian spirit. Donnie Yens mother is the renown Grandmaster of Tai Chi, Bow Sim Mark, also internal MA, which also DY is, who started school in Boston.

    • The era of the Japanese occupation has lead to uncountable movies and TV-series in China. It’s like all the movies we have in the west from WW2. There are spy dramas, and about the underground movements and so on. Many of them set in the wonderful city of Shanghai. I would like to recommend another DY movie on the same theme and era, “The Return Of Chen Zhen”, a real DY showdown with his own brutal trademark on the choreography. A completely different movie from Ip Man. It was actually done as a homage to Bruce Lee and was shown at festivals in 2010, the year when BL should have been 70 years of age. It’s an incredible movie, but sadly very underrated because people didn’t understand it. I think you should try it! Watch it with subs. though, never watch dubbed!

  4. The Chinese/HK film world is completely magical. Ip Man was the movie that opened the door to this wonderful world for me about two years ago, and since then I haven’t watched anything else. I’ve now seen fifty movies multiple times with the awesome, amazing and fantastic Donnie Yen. There is no one better or more charming and charismatic actor in this universe. He’s incredibly multitalented and versatile, and one of the very best action choreographers there is today. In China/HK only the sky is the limit for him. He has been in so many epic blockbusters and won so many awards both as best actor and action director. He is also a good singer and a very accomplished pianist. If you start to watch all his movies from 1984 to 2017, you’ll be in for a roller coaster of your life, and at great risk to become an addict. That’s how good he is. He has trained Martial Art for almost fifty years now and his body is still like 35 and capable of incredible stunts. I have maybe seen 500 Chinese movies and TV-series now and nothing in HW can compete with them. Finally Donnie Yen doesn’t need Hollywood. He’s best at home where he has a great influence on every caracter he plays, and also always do the choreography. Every producer and director give him free hands. Recommend you all to watch the greatest! Thank you and have a nice day! Mona from Sweden.

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