Most of us remember the words of Neo, the protagonist played by keannu Reeves in The Matrix, as a certain program was successfully uploaded into his psyche: “I know kung fu.” Ip Man knows Kung Fu. Ip man is Kung Fu personified.
Mostly taking place during Second Sino-Japanese War, Ip Man is a semi-biographical account of Yip Man (1893 – 1972), a Kung Fu master highly skilled in the Wing Chun style of fighting, during China’s oppression by the Japanese military. At the film’s open, China is still experiencing a time of peace, and we are given a glimpse of just how important martial arts is to the economy of small provinces. Ip Man is introduced as an independently wealthy, humble and reserved husband and father. It is apparent he only fights as a last resort, and the anticipation of his physical prowess builds until he is finally confronted by a local martial arts instructor seeking to test his skills against the revered Ip Man. The scene does not disappoint.
Out-of-town hooligans begin challenging the masters of local martial arts schools and, one by one, humiliate them in front of their disciples. Their goal is to become rich by establishing a school of their own, and they are well on their way to proving their worthiness to would-be students. This plan seems to be working until they are faced with their final obstacle… Ip Man. Again, this scene does not disappoint.
Underlying tension builds quickly as the province is plagued by war, and Ip Man is forced to work to provide for his starving family. While shoveling coal beside fellow countrymen, he hears of a certain Japanese General using the Chinese for sport. By offering bags of rice, the General, who happens to be skilled in the Kung Fu stylings of Japan, watches underground matches between his fighters and the Chinese. Deciding to participate one day, the General takes on three at a time, and ends up killing a friend of Ip Man. Enraged, Ip Man requests to be taken to the secret location, and after defeating ten Japanese at one time (without a scratch I might add… well, unless severely bruised knuckles count), insists on a match with the General. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, but trust me when I say you’ll no doubt feel the vengeance coursing through Ip Man’s veins.
During the ending credits we find out that Yip Man, later in years, took Bruce Lee as a disciple. A fitting correlation, since Ip Man has been heralded as the finest Kung Fu film since Lee’s Enter the Dragon (1973).
Ip Man is a great example of the similarities between Kung Fu and Christianity.
Below is a list of the top 5:
1. Both require a relationship between Master and disciple
2. Diligence in daily routine is the key to success
3. Both understand the importance of a spiritual well-being
4. Both must be able to recognize the Enemy and his schemes
5. Neither use their skills to hurt or offend fellow disciples