Well GO USA
Available to stream on Hi-Yah Network and on home video (Amazon link)
After Donnie Yen‘s stint as an older Ip Man, Zhao Wenhao is Young Ip Man (少年叶问之危机时刻)–which is also the title of the movie. Just where this work fits into the rest of this franchise is a mystery. When different studios are involved and there’s no united vision, the presentation can sometimes not be just as fantastic as the original trilogy. The stories are no doubt fictional filler material rather than historical, and that’s okay. Here, the home video release doesn’t offer any bonus features that can explore any possible documented facts. But for those who want to compare the subtitles to the actual presentation than the dub, the option is available!
Here, we’re dealing with a young man who’s not at his prime, and he’s seeing all kinds of corruption during his time in Hong Kong. The year is 1917, and all is not well. A lot of government officials are turning a blind eye to it. When Ma Long (Mu Fengbin), a gangster, can easily infiltrate a school and holds the students up for ransom, it’s up to this youth to set matters straight!
Apparently, Ip’s talent is well known amongst his peers. Although Wenhao doesn’t have the practical skills, what’s presented is still a good ol’ fashioned martial arts story–as stitched together with many fast edits to hide wires and other fancier motions so that it looks fluid.
The story is certainly taking notes from Die Hard. Just why Ma Long is doing this may seem clear, but I sense a different agenda at work. The flashbacks reveal a lot more story, and he’s actually after one kid, Jack, in order to convince a magistrate to give him a ticket out of dodge. But when this criminal and Ip also have a past, it’s double trouble! The situation is a chess game between this pairing. As for who wins or loses doesn’t seem to matter, and I won’t spoil the outcome since the finale isn’t fully straightforward.
Zhao’s charm is decent. Although his cinematic resume is on the small side, I see potential. Unlike other well-known names who are multidisciplinary, he’s been more focussed with acting and dancing. The latter helps with convincing audiences of bis martial arts prowess, but it’s not the same as actually earning a belt.
Ultimately, Young Ip Man is more like an obligatory production to keep the memory of this Wing Chun master alive. While words of wisdom aren’t imparted in this take, what we get here is a take for Millennials.
3 Stars out of 5