Archive for the Wilson Yip Category

Review: Ip Man 3 (2015)

Posted in Chao Chen, Donnie Yen, Lo Meng (Turbo Law), Max Zhang, Mike Tyson, Wilson Yip, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , , on April 19, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

02_IP MAN 3_Courtesy of Well Go USA_0

Starring Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Max Zhang, Lo Meng, Chao Chen, Sarut Khanwali, Mike Tyson, Kent Cheng

Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo Ping

Directed by Wilson Yip

Donnie Yen has recently stated that he is basically retiring from film, that he’s said all he wants to say in regards to martial arts. After seeing Kung Fu Killer, I was inclined to agree. Now that I’ve seen Ip Man 3, it’s a certainty (of course before he retires we get Donnie Yen….IN SPACE! ). It’s customary for the third film of a series to be inferior to the two films that preceded it. There are only a few examples of films whose third film was the equal or better than its predecessors, and Ip Man 3 is one of those films, but I was surprised as to the reason why.

Donnie Yen returns as Ip Man, many years after the events of Ip Man 2, and Ip Man is once again prosperous in 1960’s Hong Kong. His Wing Chun school is thriving, he is well-respected in the community, basically placing him back in the position he was in before the events of the first Ip Man took it all away. Hong Kong also seems like its doing well, but it’s not. There are too few police to handle the growing numbers of people. and crime is running rampant. Fatso (Cheng) tries to keep order, but finds himself once again under the command of a corrupt British commander, who takes his orders from Frank (Tyson) a ruthless property owner who now targets the school Ip Man’s son attends as his next conquest. Ip Man finds himself defending the school from Frank’s goons, while navigating a rickshaw driver (Zhang) who may be as skilled in Wing Chun as Ip Man and looks to start his own school, and Ip Man’s wife Cheung Wing-Sing gets devastating news that will alter their lives forever.

01_IP MAN 3_Courtesy of Well Go USA_1

The film is a triumph by Wilson Yip, and the story feels like an organic continuation of the series. The film never forgets the events of the previous films, and does quite a few call backs. Ip Man vs. Ten Men? Sure. To the bad guys, the events of the first Ip Man are nothing more than legend. Surely Ip Man never fought and beat ten black belts? The film even begins how the second film ended: with an adult Bruce Lee looking to train under Ip Man. The film does a great job of resolving Bruce Lee without actually telling that side of the story. Donnie Yen once again does a great job as Ip Man, and his acting has improved, which is needed to as there are quite a few emotional scenes for him. Mike Tyson is adequate as the bad guy Frank, but thankfully you won’t see him very much. Better served is Max Zhang as the rickshaw driver Cheung Tin-chi. He’s a driven,  conflicted man, coming from nothing but has the will to achieve his goals no matter what, and the problem with that is he’s a good man who may have to do bad things in order to achieve his dreams, and Ip Man is the final obstacle standing in his way.

The surprise of the film was Lynn Hung as Cheung Wing-sing. Her story arc drives the final half of the film, and she is excellent. I never really warmed to her character through the first two films, as I never understood how she is always upset when Ip Man either fights or studies his arts, even though those very things have provided her with her lifestyle, and has represented China countless times. This time her story arc recognizes her contradictions, and brings her character full circle by the end of the film as she realizes that Ip Man doesn’t just study Wing Chun, Ip Man IS Wing Chun, as much as the sky is blue and water is wet.

04_IP MAN 3_Courtesy of Well Go USA_0

I had thought that Yuen Woo Ping was losing his skills as a fight choreographer, but nope. He’s at his best here, and the fight scenes are plentiful and all of them are excellent. From the Ip Man vs Ten men fight, with a new wrinkle put in, the massive battles with what appears to be Ip Man fighting half of China, to his duel with Mike Tyson, and the bring-down-the-house finale versus Max Zhang in a Wing Chun vs. Wing Chun fight for the ages. Every fight is imaginative, bone-crunching, fast-paced affairs that really outdo the previous films, and that’s not even mentioning the terrific Wing Chun vs Muay Thai elevator fight between Donnie Yen and Sarut Khanwilai. Really, the weakest fight was Donnie Yen vs Mike Tyson, in that is was short, and Ip Man already faced this kind of fight with Twister (the late great Darren Shahlavi).

The only thing missing from this film was the late Fung Hak-on as the best friend of Master Law (Lo Meng).

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip bring the Ip Man trilogy to a satisfying conclusion, culminating in one of the best one on one fights in recent memory. Kung Fu cinema fans, it simply doesn’t get better than this!

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Review: Flashpoint (2007)

Posted in Collin Chou, Donnie Yen, Wilson Yip, Xing Yu with tags , , on August 28, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Donnie Yen, Collin Chou, Louis Koo, Xing Yu, Fan Bing Bing

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

 Directed by Wilson Yip

Killzone finally showed that Donnie Yen was ready to take that next step up in the HK martial arts film hierarchy to have his name placed up there with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, thanks to a fantastic fight in that film with Jacky Wu Jing and Sammo Hung. Wilson Yip has a good camera eye for showcasing martial arts moves, so of course the two would team up again for a follow up. The question was whether or not they could achieve the same success again.

*There is something many may not know about the film. In many respects it is loosely a prequel to Killzone. What happened was Sammo Hung had an idea of what he wanted it to be, and Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip had a different idea. Sammo took his idea and made Fatal Move, while Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen took their idea and with it we have Flashpoint.

 

The film follows Detective Ma (Yen) and his team, who look to bust a drug and weapon smuggling ring gang led by the notorious Tony (Chou), his brother, and their crazy enforcer Tiger (Yu). What Tony doesn’t know is that one of his guys, Wilson (Koo) is actually an undercover cop, and is also Ma’s partner. Wilson is having doubts about what he’s doing, and wants to get out, but after Tony gets retribution on a former associate, things start to go downhill fast as Tony’s brother is picked up by the police, and Tony suspects an inside man in their group, and immediately accuses Wilson, and of course he’s right, and Wilson escapes with his life. Now Tony knows who he is, and will use anything he can to get Wilson to acquit his brother on the witness stand. Even if that means killing cops and even kidnapping Wilson’s girlfriend Julie (Bing bing), and Ma will have a fight to the finish to get revenge for his fallen team mates and save his friend’s life and any happiness Wilson may have left…

Flashpoint is a balls out great “ kung-fu cops” film, with enough tension as the story wisely spends as much time following Wilson’s plight as it does Ma’s. The story itself is taunt and rarely lets up, and it’s the stars of the film that have as much, if not more to do with this than the story. Donnie Yen plays Ma pretty much as he did in Killzone, as in Ma doesn’t have much of a personality except that he’s a dedicated cop who suffers from too much red tape, but that’s okay, because Louis Koo really carries the film as Wilson. He plays him perfectly as a man whose chosen profession leads to doubt as he remains undercover for far too long, and one look at Koo’s expressions and you can literally feel the danger closing in on Wilson just as he feels it. As the instigator of this danger Collin Chou hits a home run as Tony, one part fearless nut job and one part criminal mastermind, you always feel the threat of danger when Tony is on screen. It kills me that all Collin Chou could get from a hollywood film was playing Seraph in the Matrix films (He would’ve made a great Neo, or even Agent Smith). Xing Yu also does a good job as Tiger, Tony’s insane right hand man, one who isn’t afraid to kill cops or endanger children to meet his own ends.

The fight choreography and stunts are an evolution of what Donnie Yen started with Killzone, which is to take the popular martial arts and movements of the time, in this case mixed martial arts and Parkour, and to merge them with kung fu fight choreography, and in this film it works brilliantly, particularly the final fight between Chou and Yen, which is is well choreographed and looks more natural and brutal than you would see in many HK kung fu films made today. Without a doubt it’s one of the greatest martial arts fight scenes ever captured on film. Yip does a great job once again making sure the camera is in the best places to capture the fights, and the editing put it together flawlessly.

 

Flashpoint is a fun cops and robbers film that really shows that Donnie Yen is here to stay, and from the acting to the excellent production values and the fantastic final fight, this is marital arts film that will have you rewinding the fight scenes over and over.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) The majority of this grade goes to the final fight, which Chou and Yen pull off flawlessly. You’ll be burning a hole in your DVD player watching this scene again and again. Yen has successfully melded mixed martial arts and kung fu on screen.

STUNTWORK: (8) Great work done here by all involved, and Donnie Yen pulls off some really good parkour sequences.

STAR POWER: (9) Donnie Yen’s star has gone into the stratosphere, and Collin Chou is rising as well, and Louis Koo and Fan Bing Bing carry the emotional weight of the film. Xing Yu continues to shine as he did in Kung Fu Hustle and Ip Man.

FINAL GRADE: (9) A great film that continues to showcase Donnie Yen’s excellent fight choreography and moves, and all of the actors shine in a snap cracker of a crime film. Not to be missed.


Review: Killzone aka SPL (2005)

Posted in Donnie Yen, Jacky Wu Jing, Reviews, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Wilson Yip with tags , , on January 10, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Jacky Wu Jing

Fight choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Wilson Yip

“God is fair.”

This is a great line uttered by underworld Hong Kong crime boss Wong Po (Hung) that really drives home what the story of Killzone really means, and I have to warn you, you may want to take your happy pills before you sit down to watch this film. The opening credits alone should prepare you to watch some somber shit, folks.

The film opens with the aftermath of a horrible car wreck, and we come to learn that in one of the cars was a witness and his family being escorted to testify against Wong Po. The only survivors are two Inspectors, Wah and Chan (Yam) and the five-year old daughter of the witness, Hoi Yee. Po is released since the only witness that could put him away is dead. At the hospital, Chan finds out that he has a tumor, and he’s living on borrowed time, and at the same time Wong Po and his wife suffer through another miscarriage. A chilling moment occurs when Po sits in the hallway just outside of his wife’s room, and is approached and befriended by Hoi Yee, who has no idea that this man had her mother and father killed, and Po has no idea she was the witness’ daughter. She is taken away by Chan, and the hatred between Chan and Po is palpable. Fast forward three years, and Chan and his team’s war with Wong Po has escalated, and Chan’s crew is dismayed to learn that they have a new boss, Inspector Ma (Yen). Before meeting him, however, they send one of their youngest Inspectors undercover to infiltrate Po’s organization, an incredibly dangerous prospect.

Ma has a past of his own, famous throughout the police force for punching a suspect so hard he damaged the kid’s brain. No shittin’ here. One punch and that dude got sent literally back to kindergarten, and Ma is seen in flashback struttin’ the fuck away. Now that’s both sad and badass all at the same time.

Soon Ma and Chan discover the body of the undercover cop in a field, and a young man with mental illness videotaped the entire thing, but it shows that Wong Po beats the agent, but another man kills him. Chan, obsessed with ending Po once and for all, has the tape doctored and given to Ma to make it seem as if Po did it, while they take revenge by killing the real murderer.

Po decides to take actions on his own against Chan and his team, without the knowledge (we suspect) of his wife and newborn child, and thus the immovable object meets the unstoppable force, and the moment when they meet creates a tornado of death and destruction that will envelope everyone in their wake.

Before this film came out, Donnie Yen was something of a failure in some respects. Everyone looked to him to take over from Jackie Chan and Jet Li, to be the next big thing, but his films never really did that for him. He’s made some good ones, but nothing that really said “here I am”. Now in his 40’s, he’s finally living up to his potential, and this film started him on his way. Meanwhile, Sammo Hung was already semi-retired, and this film cast him as something he’s never been, a main villain. He does a fantastic job, his brutality always under the surface for every reaction Wong Po gives. You know he’s a monster, and an unapologetic one who is still trying to be good father to his baby. Simon Yam is always money in the bank, and he brings it here as well, a cop who has sacrificed his moral compass to put Wong Po away for good. Jacky Wu Jing was a television star at the time, and was cast against type as the murderous Jack, Wong Po’s enforcer and killer. He plays the character as a killer who relishes what he does for a living, brandishing a knife and killing with reckless abandon. This film launched Jacky Wu Jing’s film career that has been going strong ever since.

Wilson Yip’s camerawork is fantastic, from the Hong Kong skyline at night to the beach to a green field with storm clouds looming close by. It’s incredibly, hauntingly beautiful. The fight scenes are few, but when they come they are intense, and exciting as hell. The fight between Wu Jing and Yen is one of the best knife versus baton battles I’ve ever seen, fast and filled with complex choreography that only martial artists of their caliber can pull off, and the final fight between Sammo and Yen shows that despite his age and heft, Sammo is still one of the best martial artists in the industry. Their fight does a masterful job of mixing kung-fu with mixed martial arts, something I didn’t think could ever look good in a film, but they manage to pull it off here.

This film launched Donnie Yen into the upper echelon of martial arts stars, finally enabling him to take his place beside Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and since this film he’s gone through a string of classic martial arts films the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Jackie and Jet were in their prime. A brutal and unforgiving film that lives by the line that “God is Fair”, which is another way of saying that everyone will get what’s coming to them in the end, whether they’re an evil gangster or a group of cops who commit evils in order to stop them. You’ll be thinking about this film long after you watch it. The price of justice is steep indeed.

(On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) This is quality versus quantity here. The two major fights are saved until the end of the film, but what incredible fights they are. Donnie Yen mixing MMA within a traditional kung-fu fight was a masterstroke.

STUNTS: (8) Fantastic scenes by each stuntman. They made it look as realistic as possible, rather than “actiony”. There weren’t many stunts, but what was there was done well.

STAR POWER: (10) Donnie Yen finally became the star many knew he could be, Sammo proved he’s still got it, and Jacky Wu Jing was introduced to the world. Oh yeah, and Simon Yam kicked ass as always.

FINAL GRADE: (10) One of the best martial arts crime thrillers you’ll ever see. Dark and unrelenting, not a single misstep can be found anywhere. Everyone brings their “A” game, and what results is nothing short of a new modern classic.


Review: Ip Man (2008)

Posted in Donnie Yen, Fan Siu Wong (Louis Fan), Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Wilson Yip, Xing Yu with tags , on April 21, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Donnie Yen, Louis Fan, Simon Yam, Xing Yu

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Wilson Yip

Ip Man may very well be the crowning achievement for Donnie Yen. After starring in many so-so films of varying quality, he got on a roll of success that starts with Killzone and Flashpoint, and continues with Ip Man. Every martial arts star has a movie that defines them. Bruce Lee has Enter the Dragon, Jackie Chan has the Drunken Master, Jet Li has Once Upon a Time in China (both different takes on the same character) and now Donnie Yen can add his name to the list of memorable films with Ip Man.

Ip Man is famously known as the master of Bruce Lee, and the film covers his life just before the Japanese occupation of his home Foushan, to when he escapes to Hong Kong, where a new life (and a young Bruce Lee) will await him.

The movie begins as a Master Liao, a new master just moved to Foushan, arrives to challenge Ip Man to a duel, much to the chagrin and dismay of his wife. Ip Man invites Master Liao to sit with him as they are to eat dinner when he arrived to give his challenge. They do so in an equal parts funny and awkward dinner scene. They soon fight in a fantastic fight that is designed to whet the appetite for the battles to come, and succeeds in this. Ip Man wins the duel, and tells Liao that he’ll keep the duel a secret, so that it won’t affect his own school. Nice Guy, that Ip Man. A polite, honorable mega-badass.

Ip Man 1

Soon a group of thugs led by Jin (Terry Fan) roll into town not unlike a group of modern street thugs, and make their way to Dojo Street, in what has to be the most badass street in the world. Nothing but kung-fu schools the whole way. They kick the crap out of everyone on the street, looking to establish themselves their own school. By the way, they are country bumpkins, so remember my previous reviews about those kind of guys. Soon the only one left to challenge is Ip Man, and in an absolutely engaging and funny fight, is defeated by Ip Man. (Watch what happens when his little son rides by to give Ip Man a message from his wife in the middle of the fight.)

Donne Yen Ip Man

The tone of the film changes when the Japanese army arrives and take over Foushan. Soon it becomes a harrowing view of the Japanese occupation, and Ip Man finds himself conflicted as his skills and pride as a martial artist comes into doubt. Soon he finds himself fighting, along with other former masters who now live in hovels, for their literal daily bag of rice from General Sanpo, who wants to show that Japanese Karate is superior to Chinese Kung-Fu. After one of the best fights you’ll ever see involving Ip Man vs 10 black belts, a fight that has to be seen to be believed, Ip Man finds himself in hiding from the general, and has to make a choice: either fight one more time or watch his fellow people suffer even more.

Ip Man is a defining moment in the career of Donnie Yen, who both brings his best skills to bear as well as good acting as Ip Man. One of the best martial arts film to display a single style of fighting you’ll ever see.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) Sammo Hung does a brilliant job of putting these fights together, beautiful to see, exciting, and brutal all at once. Not a wrong note here.

STUNTS: (9) The stunt work is also great, particularly in the second fight with Jin, and the 10 man battle scene. They sell every scene they are in well.

DIRECTION: (10) Excellent. Wilson Yip directs each scene with energy and fervor, and knows when to be quiet and when to turn up the volume. The dramatic scenes work well, and the action never feels out of place.

STAR POWER: (10) This film cements Donnie Yen as one of the best of all time. Terry Fan, having been out of the martial arts cinema scene for a long time, returns triumphantly in this.

FINAL GRADE: (10) Folks, this is one of the best martial arts films you’ll ever see. An instant classic that won’t get old any time soon.

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