Wing Chun Movies

Descendants of Wing Chun

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I actually couldn’t remember seeing this movie even though I knew I had and had made note of it in my journal. But it’s a fairly forgettable film that doesn’t really stand out when one watches lots of Kung fu films. The thing with the ‘Descendants of Wing Chun’ is that it’s fairly “form style” Kung Fu, which is all fine as I like that kind of movie too but when you think about movies such as ‘Ip Man’ & ‘The Grandmaster’ you can see the minimalist side of Wing Chun in them, not big wide forms that something like Shaolin Kung Fu has. So whilst there is Wing Chun in this movie it’s not recognizably Wing Chun and makes the form look somewhat generic in an already formulaic Kung Fu film. (1978)

Warriors Two

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Personally I didn’t enjoy this as much as ‘The Prodigal Son’ even though both films feature Wing Chun and are directed by Sammo Hung. It’s a little bit more of a physical comedy but if you love Kung fu training scenes then this will be a treat. It’s highly ranked among kung fu film fans but I felt it was something of a let down after everything I’ve seen. (1978)

Incredible Kung Fu Master 肥龍功夫精 aka The Kung Fu Master aka They Call Me Phat Dragon (UK title)

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Wow. What an unexpectedly good movie. Sometimes watching so many Kung Fu movies can almost feel like a chore and a lot of films can seem overtly bland with the only promising point being some of the fight scenes. But this is great, funny, entertaining, each character has something to do and a lot of the action and fights are inventive. No doubt this has something to do with Sammo Hung. There are some nuggets of Kung Fu wisdom too sprinkled throughout.
I would compare it to something from the era of the ‘Drunken Master’ and just as entertaining. While the Wing Chun martial art is not the focus of this movie it does play a part in the story.

The running time is about 90 minutes but I dare say there might be some cutting involved here and a slightly longer version exists out there somewhere with further plot developments. In any case this a solid movie well worth your time.

Interestingly, Joe Cheung Tung Cho who directed and wrote this also directed and wrote the far less entertaining ‘Kung Fu Wing Chun’. (1979)

The Prodigal Son

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The story is of a young man who is convinced he is a great Martial Artist but in truth it is only because his father pays off fighters to lose against his son. One night while he tries to defend his friends against a Wing Chun practitioner he gets his ass kicked and realizes he isn’t the man he thought he was. He asks the man who defeated him to teach him Wing Chun and later both men have to take on deadly Manchu assassins.

The Wing Chun in this film is a little more operatic and quite different to modern Wing Chun films but it does introduce the style in a funny manner as Sammo Hung’s character Wong Wah-bo teaches his daughter Wing Chun and we learn where things like the Wing Chun stance come from. It’s placed no. 54 on Time Out’s list of Top 100 Hong Kong films and one of the top 100 “films to see” by the Hong Kong film archive. (1981)

Stranger from Shaolin AKA A Fight Between Flying Tigers AKA Wing Chun Warriors AKA The Formidable Lady From Shaolin  AKA  Fist Of Flying Tiger
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This is a weird one. It feels like two films chopped into one. The first part of the film has a young girl going into hiding at the Shaolin temple after her family is killed by Manchus. Since the temple is only for men she pretends to be a man, although this disguise doesn’t go over so well at the temple as she leaves half the men there confused about their sexuality. The girl starts to secretly learn Kung Fu slowly as she prepares herself to avenge her family.

The second part of the film has her going off on her own and meets a female master who teaches her Wing Chun. This part of the movie seems to ignore the first part.

The final fight is most confusing of all as it actually seems to change seasons in the same scene. Now call me cynical but I don’t think this was for artistic purposes that later went on to inspire ‘House of Daggers’. It basically looks like the film makers stopped one day and came back another day after is snowed. Worse still, one of the three heroic characters suddenly disappears midway through the fight only to appear at the very end as the heroes walk off and the credits roll. I’m guessing the character gets killed and the final shot of him is taken from an earlier scene in the film. Whatever.
I can’t really recommend this film. Sure some scenes like the training are interesting and we do see Wing Chun, but it’s a bit of a mess. This is not actually a Hong Kong movie. It’s a Korean martial arts film. (1981)

Wing Chun

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Staring Michelle Yeoh, has no Wing Chun in it at all. This is more about the Character Wing Chun but as a real Wing Chun movie you’ll be wasting your time. It’s more for fans of Street Fighter or people who enjoy their Kung Fu movies with heavy doses of wire work in fight scenes. It’s directed and choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping and is somewhat entertaining if you have an afternoon to burn. Fairly silly. (1994)

Ip Man

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This Ip Man and it’s Sequel Ip Man 2 both got the jump on Wong Kar Wai’s long awaited ‘Grandmaster’ and kicked off the interest in the character of Ip Man, Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun Teacher. Released back in 2008 the film revolves around Ip Man and his time in Foshan and mainly focuses on the Japanese invasion of 1937 which greatly affects him and his family. Ip Man finds himself taking on Japanese soldiers in matches in order to win food and trains people around him to defend themselves better against the japanese army.

The first Ip Man film is an entertaining Martial Arts action movie that turns the man into an action hero for modern audiences. It is something of a flag waving piece of film making and there are some clear historical inaccuracies which can be overlooked due to the nature of the film. (2008)

Ip Man 2

Ip Man 2 has the character return for more heroics this time in Hong Kong.
While Ip Man tries to open his own Wing Chun school he is challenged by local martial artists and faces hardships under corrupt Hong Kong police officers. His biggest challenge is from an over the top, pantomime like British Boxer that brutally beats up chinese opponents in the boxing Ring.

Well…. While the first part of ‘Ip Man 2’ has an original story the second part is basically ‘Rocky IV’ right down to the “if we can change, then you can change” speech at the end.

Ip Man 2 is an entertaining action film but again the patriotic overload and flag waving against western oppression is something that seems to be bordering on propaganda. It is intent on smashing viewers over the head with the message that foreigners are bad when they give us characters so ridiculous as the British Boxer. (2010)

The Legend Is Born: Ip Man

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This film is something a bit more fun even though it continues to milk the cash cow.
It doesn’t match Donnie Yen’s Ip Man films when it comes to action and depends on wire work in some places giving it a slightly more unreal feel. It does have some cool moments like when the young Ip Man takes on Ip Chun (Ip Man’s real life son) and gets the crap beaten out of him.
Ultimately it’s a forgettable film but does try to keep the action at level that does not bore. (2010)

Kung Fu Wing Chun

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Very run of the mill. Tonally all over the place, part romantic comedy, part bloody action towards the end, the two aren’t fused well together but rather divided into beginning,  middle and end. The final scenes are taken right out of the end of Donnie Yen’s ‘Ip Man’; replace little Bruce Lee with little Ip and you got it. The Kung Fu action itself looks overly choreographed in some sections. You don’t really feel the characters are fighting or hurting each other all that much. As for the training scenes it tries to impart the philosophy of Wing Chun but doesn’t demonstrate the philosophy in effect as other, smarter Kung Fu movies have.
Worth a miss. (2010)

The Grandmaster

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The quintessential Wing Chun movie based on years of research and training among the actors. It is in my opinion the best of the bunch.

Full review here

Ip Man: The Final Fight

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First let me say that Anthony Wong is the MAN. Any film with Anthony Wong is a must watch for me like any Michael Caine film is a must watch for me. Good or bad I want to see it!
When I read that Wong was going to be playing Ip Man I was pretty surprised but well excited about the news. Apparently Wong agreed to do this film while he was drunk and had no prior experience in Wing Chun before this. This time Ip Man has to deal with Triad gangs and basically that’s it. There is not much else going on in the film.

Anthony Wong plays Ip Man as mild mannered, wise and….old. I like his portrayal. He does have the air of a Kung Fu Master in his later years compared to the more youthful Donnie Yen and Tony Leung.
Eric Tsang is in this movie too playing a Martial arts master and he and Wong both get into a creative fight that does more to explain Ip Man’s philosophy than most of Donnie Yen’s films. Here Ip Man isn’t an action hero but a man out to do the right thing.

Unfortunately the end of the film has a scene that shows Bruce Lee in a bit of a negative light, basically as someone who is concerned more with fame and publicity than the true meaning of martial arts. I find this scene somewhat ironic given that there have been six Ip Man films in less than 8 years at the time of writing this and ‘Ip Man: The Final Fight’ is a film that didn’t really need to be made. (2013)

Ip Man 3

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Bruce Lee is in this. He appears at the beginning of the movie and beats the sh*t out of a cigarette (no i’m not ****in kidding) he pops up briefly one more time in the movie but beyond that it’s all we get.
After seeing him show up at the end of Ip Man 1 & 2 as a boy looking for lessons we finally see him return as a young man to seek training from Ip man. Instead of delivering on a long awaited promise of it’s predecessors ‘Ip Man 3’ is rather Bruce Less than Bruce Lee. Maybe this has something to do with Bruce Lee’s estate refusing to allow his image be used as a CGI enhancement on Kwok-Kwan Chan’s face (although Johnny Walker Commercials seem perfectly fine……)

The rest of Ip Man 3 is effortlessly bland in all respects. Even having Mike Tyson show up to take on Ip Man doesn’t save the film for the fight scene is simply a demonstration of western boxing and chinese boxing against each other. We don’t actually see a remotely realistic fight. While it is interesting it could have been so much more.

So hurray, no more Ip Man films but wait there might be a 4th one on the way. Will Lassie show up in the next one? Will Bruce Lee finally be trained by Ip Man? I really don’t care.

This is just my opinion but it seems to be that the Ip Man boom of recent years is pushing the Bruce Lee legend aside and embracing the Ip Man one. Bruce Lee is being pockmarked as the man who left the east to embrace the west while Ip Man stayed in his native land to fight injustice. I could be wrong but I just get feeling that Ip man is shown as one of Hong Kong’s and China’s own whilst Bruce Lee isn’t really the big deal he was once made out to be. The media always has a large role to play in these things with the backing of the power behind it. Regardless, you can’t argue that these films would have ever got made if it wasn’t for Bruce Lee to begin with. (2015)

The Final Master aka The Master

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Having this movie Directed by the man who co-wrote ‘The Grandmaster’ did raise my expectations for this movie but unfortunately it falls pretty flat. It starts promising with a simple premise of a Wing chun practitioner’s desire to open his own school by defeating the other 8 schools in the city of Tian Jian. Unfortunately this simple plot gets muddled by Kung Fu politics, long dolling scenes of long winded dialogue that does little to move the plot along and characters that show no growth.

As for the fighting style it focuses heavily on the Wing Chun sword form and hardly any fist form which helps the film differentiate itself from other wing chun movies but I kept hoping for a bit of fist action from the film.

‘The Final Master’ is clearly trying to stand out on it’s own and it is somewhere on the verge of that. It might have been the next Crouching Tiger, a film that grabbed the attention of foreign audiences  but unfortunately it gets bogged down in talk. Haofeng Xu is obviously a director to keep an eye on but I hope future films of his are allowed to breath without the waffle. (2015)

 

Favorite Wing Chun Movie Quote:Some people like chicken, others like fish, others prefer vegetable and bean curd. I like it all as long as it’s edible, I can eat anything, I don’t care, that’s why i’m so fat.” – Fei Chai

 

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