Ip Man The Awakening is a soft reboot of sorts. This film introduces a new actor, Miu Tse into the titular role, and it’s his martial arts prowess that’s in the spotlight. Sadly, Donnie Yen is only getting older, and it’s easy to understand why he won’t be reprising any physically demanding roles. What this movie offers is a look into another part of this Wing Chun master’s life.
The films produced by Raymond Wong make up the big four. The last of which was aptly titled Finale, and while that marked the end for Yen, I’m sure the producers had new ideas in mind on how to continue the franchise. I never considered these movies to be accurate looks into Ip’s life. There’s a lot to cover since he had quite the adventure and thus, I enjoy these films as a look into moments which helped shape this man’s self worth.
This film directed by Li Xijie Adam and Zhang Zhulin is quite gangster too. The opening act reveals an operation that no one is investigating, and by the time Ip Man gets involved, he’ll have to save an entire neighbourhood. After a squabble in a trolley and showing one part of town overrun with riffraff, the neighbours convince this master to set up a school.
Pretty soon, he has to also help his fellow rickshaw driver, Feng (Chen Guanying), deal with a lot more than a local gang. Mr. Stark (Sergio Deieso), a British compatriot, thinks the Chinese are beneath him. True to the era, the early 20s, the xenophobia one person can have for another is strong. This film shows how Ip did not have a purpose in life, and when he’s recognised as a hero, he still has to prove himself. The enemy humiliates him. Before doing anything he may regret he learns how to refocus, which becomes this film’s greatest moment.
Zhao Yuxuan plays the charming sister to Feng, and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll steal Ip Man’s heart too. He had a mistress around this time, but written biographies have not figured out who this woman is.
One enjoyable aspect of this film is that it fits right in with the discourse often found in Bruce Lee’s later movies. They show the oppression that once went on. If new films are planned, I hope his time as a police officer for the Nationalist government gets explored. It’d be interesting to see where he stands as China makes its transition to Communist power, and borders start closing.
3½ Stars out of 5
IP Man The Awakening Trailer