Review – Ip Man 2 (2011)

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Wj04AjA3S63tsR5T2yG8uXudsqWelcome to Ip Man Week: Day 2. Yes, I know Ip Man 2 was released in 2010, but I posted this in 2011. That’s because it was 2011 in the US when this film was released. So, ha! Anyways, watching the first Ip Man locked me in to watch the rest of the series, it was just too good of potential all around, so I was ready for anything just as good, better, or even not as great. Middle films don’t always have the greatest material…and that’s sort of true for this film as well, but I still enjoyed it. So, what’s it about?

Ip Man 2 follows Ip Man as he attempts to open a martial arts school in Hong Kong, but life isn’t the same in Hong Kong as it was in his old, smaller town. There are rules to open a school, and there are so many schools in town as it is. He must defeat the other masters in town to be accepted into the circle of masters, even if there is a bit of hostility and differences between them. Those will soon go away, though, when a fierce western boxer comes to town ready to smear the Chinese name and honor.

I’ll honestly tell you the first thing that went through my head when I watched this movie…when did the Ip Man series turn into the Rocky series? It had a couple of dazzling fight sequences in the beginning, but the last half had to do with Ip Man fighting a British boxer in a boxing ring…and I just didn’t get it at that point. It was once again about regaining honor for the Chinese name, but the immediate reason why was nowhere near as important as the first film. One British boxer isn’t going to smear the Chinese name. He just isn’t. Now, fighting to honor his friend is understandable, but the lengths they go to risk their life for a boxing match just doesn’t add up for me.

Don’t misunderstand me. I did enjoy the movie, and it still did a lot of things right once more, I just think it had a bit of trouble in the storytelling department this time around. So, I automatically fear for the third film but am hopeful because middle films can be a little wonky sometimes. So, let’s break it down and talk about everything.

PEOPLE SCORE – 10/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 2

The people category is still a perfect score. I think, for the most part, the director understands the need for important characters in general. The acting is much better this time in general, but the martial arts helps boost that up to a perfect score. The characters are memorable, the casting is perfect, everyone does a decent job individually adding direction to the plot, and yes, everybody works well together.

WRITING SCORE – 5/10
Dialogue – 2|Balanced – 1|Story – 0|Originality – 0|Interesting – 2

The writing category, however, dipped a bit since last time. While the dialogue was ultimately better utilized in the sequel, it wasn’t as balanced as the first film, the story was almost nothing at all, and it’s hardly original. But yes, it was interesting because it was Ip Man, but that was really about it.

BTS SCORE – 8/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 2|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1

It wasn’t terrible behind-the-scenes, but it also wasn’t perfect. The visuals were still a bit cheap-looking when it came down to everything and nothing stood out with the music like it did last time, in my opinion. Everything else was perfect. I still believe that you can’t direct a martial arts movie unless you know what you’re doing as a director, and the same goes for editing. The audience has to know what’s happening, and the editor did a great job with that as well. Finally, I still consider this an as-advertised flick.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 1|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1

The narrative arc category got another 8/10. The introduction was fine, it reminded us of what happened in the first film as well as got us acquainted to what Ip Man was up to now. I wasn’t clear on the inciting incident though. After the first real fight of the film, we learn he needs to go through a process to open his school, but that’s not really the main focus of the movie. That’s only the main focus of the first half, so I don’t know what the real inciting incident is. Later, the obstacles are mostly the fights in the boxing ring. The climax is pretty decent, but it doesn’t have very much of an ending ending.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 4/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 1|Impulse/Buy – 1|Impusle/Talk – 0|Sucks Audience IN – 1

As far as how entertaining it was, it wasn’t as entertaining as the first film. I think it was fine enough to watch for the fight scenes in the first half of the film, but the actual story was severely lacking. So, I gave the rewatchability subcategory 1 point, because I’d watch it as part of a series rewatch, but not necessarily on its own. I do consider it fun sometimes, but boring in others. Also, it does suck the audience in sometimes, but not always. I wouldn’t mind owning it, but no part of me wishes to buy it. Also, I don’t really care to talk about this movie like I wanted to talk about the first one.

TOTAL SPECIAL – 45/50
Sequel – 10|Martial Arts – 10|Adds new – 5|Foreign – 10|Halfway Decent – 10

As far as the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the film. How does this work as a sequel, does it fit within the universe? I do believe it mostly fits. The story is lacking, but it still feels as though it belongs. How is the martial arts in this film? Truthfully, it was very good in the first half and just more of the same in the second half. Does it add anything new? Well, sort of, but not really. The whole boxing thing was newish, but it was unnecessary, too. How was the balance between foreign speech and video? Well, it was a little better than the first movie, actually. There were English-speaking roles in this one, even though the people speaking English were terrible and sounded fake. Was it halfway decent? Yeah, I’d say so.

TOTAL – 80/100

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