Produced by Ng See-yuen, Megan Ellison and Wong Kar-wai, the film begins with a scene where Ip Man reflects on martial arts followed by a rain fight with a dozen of combatants whom he defeats. Ip Man then takes us on a series of flashbacks of his childhood, training and marriage life. The film makes my cut because of the attention that it has garnered across the globe, especially last year when it became the talk on everyone’s lips and the movie not to miss. It offers us a small glimpse on the life of the man who trained one of the best martial arts fighters the world has ever known – Bruce Lee (The grandmaster, 2013). Gong Yutian is retiring and therefore an heir is required in the South (the Northern heir has already been determined).
After deliberations, the Southern masters decide Ip Man will represent them. The fight between Gong and Ip Man eventually happens and Gong declares Ip Man the winner then returns to Northern China. However, in attempts to regain her familys honour, Gong Er (Yutian’s daughter) challenges Ip Man to war and they agree that if anything breaks, Ip loses.
Ip loses this intense battle as he breaks a step at every end. The two part ways in friendly terms and Ip requests for a rematch. Ip Man and Gong Er keep in touch after the battle through letters. Ip plans to bring his family with him to Northern China but his plans are halted by the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938. During the time of the war, Ip Man and his family are plagued with poverty and he eventually loses his two daughters as a result of starvation.
Ma San, the current hanjianin Northern China kills Gong Yutian and when Gong Er, Yutian’s daughter, returns, she confronts her elders for forsaking her father. They tell her that her fathers final desire was that she be happy and abstain from the thought of revenge – a wish that Gong Er refuses to honor. In her rage and bitterness, she vows to never to teach, marry or have children in her lifetime in order to choose the path of vengeance. Ip Man relocates to Hong Kong seeking to start a career as a martial arts teacher.
He is faced, in this quest, by a series of challenges including the fact that Hong Kong already had numerous martial arts masters. Ip Man, however, defeats them all, thereby earning himself a revered reputation. On the New Year’s Eve of 1950, Ip Man stumbles into Gong Er and asks her for another contest while urging her to consider starting her own martial arts school, an advice that she soundly rejects stating that many martial arts disappeared in the course of history; and that hers would not be the only one.
Farewell my concubine. Dir. Kaige Chen. Perf. Leslie Cheung, Gong Lee, Zhang Fengyi. Reel [distributor, 2006. DVD.
Once upon a time in China. Dir. Hark Tsui. Perf. Jet Lee. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 2000. DVD.
Shimin, Christabelle He. "Chinese Martial Arts Films and Chinas Soft Power in Singapore." China Media Research 1 Apr. 2013: 356, 590, 800. Print.
The grandmaster. Dir. Kar Wong. Perf. Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi. Impuls, 2013. DVD.