Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal Prediction

Tonight, Bernard Hopkins will attempt to make history in being the oldest man ever to claim a major world title.

If successful, the 45 year, 11 month, and 3 day old B-Hop will claim The Ring’s Light Heavyweight title, (an unofficial title, but honestly the only one that counts) and surpass George Foreman’s Heavyweight achievement by 38 days.

All of this depends on a major “if” in the form of Hopkin’s opponent: Canadian dynamo, Jean Pascal.

The trouble with this fight, for me anyway; is the fact that in making a prediction for it, I have to find a happy medium between my feelings of what I honestly think will happen, and what I want to happen.

Unlike the Pacquiao and Margarito fight, wherein I was largely unbiased, and simply wanted to see a good fight, this time around I honestly want B-Hop to win.

I have nothing against Pascal, in fact I feel he’s a fairly exciting fighter that is a healthy element to an otherwise dead-in-the-water weight class; however as a long time fan of Hopkins, nothing would make me happier than to see Pascal lose his title to an “old man” that will likely retire without defending it, leaving the division even more fractured than before.

Despite my admittedly steep bias, here is my best attempt at a legitimate prediction:

Hopkins by split-decision.

Bernard Hopkins is a ring technician, through and through.

While he’s been an “old man” in the sport for almost a decade now, his sly and dirty tactics of butting and hitting and holding, combined with a wily and superb sense of ring generalship, have kept him well preserved.

That being said, ‘ole B-Hop’s past few fights have shown a few chinks in the armor, namely a lack of desire to win, and of course; the requisite loss of foot coordination and stamina that comes with age.

He’s still shown a capacity for putting punches together, and indeed manages to lash out with his trademark ducking right straight+headbutt+clinch combo from time to time.

Even so, he won both of those fights, and while that may not mean much given the lack of competition, when you’re 45 on the world stage every victory is a godsend.

Jean Pascal on the other hand, is a tremendously physical fighter on top of his game, with hunger in his heart after only just recently dethroning the overhyped Chad Dawson for the Light Heavyweight title.

An admitted imitator and admirer of Roy Jones, (a fight who in his prime defeated Hopkins) Pascal is an aggressive fighter that relies on his natural attributes more so than fundamental boxing skills, making him an unorthodox, if not somewhat wild fighter.

While he does in fact show shades of the Jones of old, he’s nowhere near as quick, accurate, or elusive as ‘ole Roy, making him essentially a powerful, but less economical and much easier to hit version of his idol.

With a minor history of injuries in his career, it should be noted that Pascal is also quite tenacious, and often willing to take a few to dish out some of his own.

Despite this, Pascal shows a tendency to overextend himself in some of his bouts, particularly the recent Dawson fight where he would dominate much of the contest, only to end up gassed for minutes at a time.

If you ask me, Dawson’s lack of conviction and willingness to assert his will in the ring were just as responsible for his loss that night as Pascal’s boxing skills.

So, if you put the 2 fighters together, you have an old man that’s still kind of slippery, versus an energetic young buck that tends to burn himself out.

In my book, that adds up to either an early round bludgeoning of B-Hop at the hands of Pascal ala Danny Green vs. Roy Jones, or a more boring and tactile fight where the stamina’s of both fighters even out as the fight progresses.

My money is on the latter happening.

Hopkins has done well to stay out of trouble and on his feet throughout his entire career, in fact I believe that’s a large reason as to why he’s still fighting.

B-Hop finds a way to protest the judging of all of his losses, and I honestly feel that an emphatic KO defeat is the only thing that will ever convince him he’s ever legitimately lost a bout in the sport of boxing.

That being said, when it comes to “boring and tactile,” Hopkins wrote the book on the matter, which leads me to believe that Pascal will fall into the trap of fighting B-Hop’s fight.

Every fighter that has fought Hopkins has said that they were going to come out and flatten him, and basically show him no respect, yet to date none have done so.

Joe Calzaghe out-quicked and, goddamnit; legitimately outboxed him, (don’t you ever tell anyone I said that!) however he did so at a fairly tentative pace, and never thoroughly got his game going.

Being as Calzaghe was one of the great fighters of our time, (again, don’t let anyone know I said this!) and a much quicker and elusive fighter than Pascal to boot, I don’t see the big Canadian being able to get the upper hand on B-Hop any better than he did.

Then again, if he does come rushing out the gate, and try to flatten Hopkins early on, there’s a good chance the “old man” won’t be able to weather the storm as well the B-Hop of old.

Make no mistake, this result is entirely possible, as the last great performance Hopkins had was against Kelly Pavlik, who was a far slower and more linear fighter.

All it takes is one bad angle and one nasty punch…

Like I said though, B-Hop’s way too manly to take a trip down Queer Street, and Pascal’s too much of a fighter and not enough of a boxer to send him there.

In either case, expect much clinching and seemingly inane circling on the part of Hopkins, resulting in a split decision for somebody that will be heavily disputed.

That being said, I don’t see this anywhere near an exciting fight, but as with every B-Hop fight since the glory days of Don King’s Middleweight tournament in the 2000′s, I’ll find a way to watch it, and enjoy it.

 

 

 

Filed under: Boxing, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts On The Fight Night Champion Roster

Last night I visited the wikipedia entry for EA’s upcoming Fight Night Champion boxing videogame.

As an avid follower (and critic) of the series since it’s inception, I found myself looking through the page taking in all the little tidbits of anticipated gameplay features.

While the “darker” (translations from gamerspeak: bloodier, more profane, and possible T&A) tone of the game does little to peak my interest, in fact if they push it too far I might view it as a detriment to the sport and my enjoyment of the game; my greatest hope is that EA takes the time to improve their character creation system, as it was truly ass in Fight Night 4.

Unfortunately, most of the gameplay and features of Champion are still very hush hush at the moment; so there’s not a whole lot to be said about it.

One thing that I noticed though, was that most of, if not the entire roster of real life fighters included in the game has already been released.

Boxing enthusiast/fan/walking encyclopedia that I am, I feel it is my duty to go through this list, fighter by fighter; and scrutinize the fuck out of it.

Below are my thoughts on some of the fighters that stuck out to me as being weak additions:

Tommy Morrison:

"YOU AND ME TOMMY, WE WAS LIKE THIS! AND YOU BLEW IT TOMMY! YOU BLEW IT!!!"

Though he was featured in the previous Fight Night, I’m still puzzled as to why he was selected to be in the game.

Honestly, as far as accomplishments go, the coolest thing Tommy Morrison ever did in my book was almost get decapitated by Ray Mercer in one of the nastiest knockouts I can recall.

Other than that, he was white heavyweight with a good punch and poor stamina, he came a few rounds away from getting steamrolled by George Foreman, he was in Rocky V, and oh yeah, he was a white heavyweight.

If we’re gonna’ play the race card, personally I’d have rather seen Baby Joe Mesi get thrown in there…

At least that would’ve made me laugh.

Seriously, Tommy Gunn or not, Morrison just doesn’t cut it for me.

Cristobal Arreola and Eddie Chambers:

Man, heavyweights are fat these days...

I list both of these guys together, because they’re on my naughty list for the same reason.

That reason being the Klitschko brothers.

Not long ago, both of these guys were quickly climbing the ranks and looking good doing it.

Then they each met a Klitschko, and each had a big fat Ukranian dump squatted out on their reputation.

Of the 2, I feel that Chambers has fared better since then, largely because he hasn’t lost since then, (truth be told he hasn’t fought, but it’s better than going on to mangled by Tomasz Adamek like Arreola was) and because he conditioning has actually showed improvement over the years, unlike Arreola who just seems to keep getting fatter.

 

Aw... I made the fattie cry.

While both guys are decent fighters, this is just a case of bad timing for EA.

Butterbean:

On the strength of this photo alone, Butterbean is now officially "awesome."

Outside of the novelty, name recognition, and an opportunity to show off realistic fat jiggle physics, why the fuck does Butterbean deserve to be in this game?

Oh well, chances are I’ll end up beating his ass to relieve stress, kind of like I used to do with Ricky Hatton in the previous Fight Nights…

Joe Calzaghe and Chad Dawson:

Let’s get one thing straight, both of these guys deserve to be in this game.

As much as I hate Calzaghe as a person, and as a home-turf fighter; the man has a laundry list of accomplishments in the sport, and I tip my hat to him.

The only problem is, all of those accomplishments were achieved in the Super Middleweight class, not Light Heavyweight.

It may not be that big a deal to the people over at EA, but I feel that including the intermediary weight classes (the supers and juniors) is necessary both to pay the proper respect to the various real-life fighters in the game, as well as to balance out the roster.

That being said, having just 2 guys that never even came close to fighting each other listed for a weight class is just plain stupid.

Not only that, as with the case of Arreola and Chambers, Dawson recently went from being regarded as the guy at 175 lbs., to becoming somewhat of enigma overnight.

Truth be told, I’d rather see a legend like Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, or hell, Michael fucking Spinks featured at Light Heavy, but if EA wanted to “please” us with a contemporary fighter (nobody gives a shit about Light Heavy since the glory days of Roy Jones) then I guess they got their wish.

Carlos Monzon:


Another fighter featured in the previous game, Carlos Monzon is somewhat of an oddity in the cast.

Most likely unknown to most casual boxing fans, especially younger ones, Carlos Monzon was one of the greatest, and longest reigning Middleweight champs of all time, however there’s a catch to that accomplishment.

Monzon was a champion that really didn’t fight that many truly great fighters.

Sure, he bested Nino Benvenuti, Emile Griffith, and Jose Napoles; but who the fuck other than myself and the old guys down at the barbershop knows 2 out of 3 of those guys?

Other than the opportunity to put Monzon head to head with his successor, Marvelous Marvin Hagler; I don’t really see why Monzon is in the game.

I’d have put Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano in instead, but that’s just me…

Jermain Taylor and Danny Jacobs:


Let’s just call this bad timing and call it a day, shall we?

Seriously, Jermain = Damaged Goods.  Danny Jacobs = Overrated.  ‘Nuff said.

Anthony Mundine:

"And next week I'm gonna' fight a paraplegic cancer patient! That'll put the naysayers to rest!"

Anthony Mundine was in the previous Fight Night, and my reaction to his presence hasn’t changed since.

Mundine is a decent fighter, but he’s been fighting tomato cans for too long now, and he’s barely relevant outside of his native Australia anymore.

“Wow, Fight Night must sell well in Australia, ’cause other than that, I absolutely cannot justify why anyone would ever want to put Anthony Mundine in a videogame.”

That’s what I feel on the matter, and I’m sticking to my guns.

The problem with that, is the fact there are so many great Australian fighters out there to choose from.

While I’m aware of the inherent licensing difficulties that come with dealing with real-life sports figures, I would’ve loved to have seen Jeff Fenech, or Lionel Rose, or hell, if they wanted another fairly contemporary fighter, I would’ve been happy to have seen Paul Briggs or Kostya Tszyu in there.

But no, instead we get Anthony fucking Mundine…

Peter Manfredo Jr. and Sergio Mora:


Okay, I am officially getting tired of seeing Contender alum in the sport of boxing.

Jesse Brinkley had a decent run, until being dismantled by Lucian Bute recently that is, Cornelius Bundrage recently snagged himself a world title strap from an aging Cory Spinks , and, uh, Alfonso Gomez bleeds a lot… And, fuck it, y’know what?

I’m done trying to talk up the Contender guys!

Bottom line:

Sergio Mora was a poor addition to the previous game, and Peter Manfredo is an even worse one to this one.

Put ‘em together, and you get 2 piles of ass occupying 2 slots in historically one of the most prestigious weight classes in the sport.

Good job EA, way to take the money and run…

Diego Corrales:


Let me just start off by saying, Diego; rest in peace.

Corrales was always amazing to watch, but his ever-present status in the Fight Night roster has always felt odd to me.

While the man was indeed talented, it was the fights in his career, not his skills; that carved his place in history.

The man will forever be remembered as the man that made Floyd Mayweather’s reputation, the man that gave Joel Casamayor fits, and the man that ultimately gave everything he had to defeat Juan Luis Castillo in one of history’s greatest bouts.

That being said, while I would never say that including Corrales is a bad thing, I feel it’s foolish if none of the aforementioned fighters are included in the roster as well.

Seriously man, it should be a rule of thumb to include at least 1 real-life former opponent for every fighter in the roster.

Maybe it’s just me, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of playing out real-life matchups in my boxing games.

Vinnie Pazienza:


First things first, I refuse to call him “Vinnie Paz.”

His name is Vinnie Pazienza in my book, and that it shall remain.

Moving on, I know he’s got one hell of a devoted fan club, but what the fuck man?

Sure, he beat a bloated and washed up Roberto Duran, and he got flattened by Roy Jones, but other than the appeal of getting a chance to reverse/replay those matchups, who the fuck gives a shit about Vinnie Paz anymore.

EA could’ve at least included Greg Haugen or Ray Mancini, y’know; good fighters that fought Vinnie Pazienza at a point in his career when it mattered, but oh well, he was in the previous one, and now he’s back again.

Whoop-dee-fuckin’-doo…

Closing Thoughts:

I’ve got other complaints with the roster, but I’m tired so I’m gonna’ call it quits here.

The only other thing I feel I need to say, is that I object to the inclusion of the Junior Welterweight and Flyweight classes.

The former because it’s a random weight class to include, being as there’s so much real-life talent in it at the moment, but only 2 fighters in the game for it, and the latter because there’s only 1 fighter to represent the weight.

Why is Junior Welter the only intermediary weight class included besides Light Heavy?

It just doesn’t make sense to include those 2, but none of the others.

Not only that, but of all the fighters to include at that weight, why Emmanuel Augustus and Victor Ortiz?

Sure, both guys are fairly popular, but they’re not at all connected to one another, nor are they all that good compared to some of the other talents floating around out there.

On the same note, Timothy Bradley should be moved down to Junior Welter, as that’s definitely his proper weight.

As I mentioned earlier, no fighter should ever be listed without at least 1 other fighter that has fought/will fight them, and to have only 1 guy for a weight is just plain ludicrous, especially when Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire are so close to having their superfight… At Bantamweight.

Good job placing Nonito in the right weight class EA, really shows you’re paying attention.

Oh yeah, it’s dumb, but I feel it needs to be said that now that Fernando Vargas is in the roster, we really need to get Felix Trinidad in there.

Jus’ sayin’ is all…


Filed under: Boxing, Movies, Uncategorized, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Movie Review: Ip Man 2

*If all you care to read about is the fighting element of the movie, please scroll down to the heading titled “Action.”*

The Story So Far…

In 2008, Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip teamed up for the 4th time to give us Ip Man.

Ip Man was of course the heavily fictionalized biographical account of the Wing Chun grandmaster of the same name.

Goofy lookin' little guy, isn't he?

Taking place in the martial arts hotspot of 1930′s Foshan, the film follows Donnie Yen’s Ip Man as he clashes with rival martial artists, and eventually comes to odds with the Japanese occupying forces.

By "comes to odds with," I mean, "beats the piss out of."

The film had an all-star cast including the likes of Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Fan Siu Wong, and up-and-comer Xing Yu.

Xing Yu: Punching Bag For the Stars

Featuring stunning fight choreography by industry legend Sammo Hung, the film was wildly successful, winning Hong Kong’s best picture and best action director awards.

In all, it was a truly great martial arts film, with intrinsic themes like pride and nationalism figuring heavily into the crowd pleasing nature of the story.

Plot Summary:

Ip Man 2 takes place in 1950, some years after the closing events of the previous film.

The story opens with Ip Man, having recently moved to Hong Kong with his family, desperately trying to eke out a living by teaching Wing Chun on a rooftop garden.

Despite posting flyers all over the neighborhood, Master Ip’s school remains empty for some time, to the point in which he can’t even pay his apartment rent.

As fate would have it though, one day an energetic young man named Wong Shun Leung (Huang Xiao Ming) approaches Ip Man and challenges him to a fight, seemingly for no other reason than to satisfy his own machismo.

BORING.

Master Ip handily defeats Leung, eventually converting the would be challenger, to a trusted and loyal pupil.

With Leung’s help, Ip Man’s Wing Chun begins to gain ground in Hong Kong, with many new students showing up every day.

That's right, bow before he wrecks your shit.

Even so, times are tough for Master Ip and his students, as money is scarce, and many of the pupils are unable to pay their dues from week to week.

Despite this, Leung’s fiery nature gets him into trouble with the local Hung Gar school, resulting in Master Ip having to step in and settle things for him.

With his fists.

Upon meeting the Hung Gar master, Hung Jan Nam, (Sammo Hung) Ip Man is told that the local martial arts union won’t allow his school to remain open unless he agrees participate in an old fashioned martial arts challenge.

Master Ip agrees to the challenge, and manages to pass it.

With his fists.

At some point we are made aware that Hung Jan Nam serves as an ambassador of sorts between the martial arts union and the British officials based in Hong Kong.

The British ask Hung to organize a venue and event for a boxing match involving their champion, Taylor “The Twister” Miller (Darren Shahlavi).

The biggest meathead the world's ever seen...

Throughout their dealings however, the British treat Hung, and in fact, all of the Chinese, as secondary citizens, often refusing to pay them or simply not speak with them.

Despite this disrespect, Hung agrees to continue working with the English, as many people’s lives depend on him for income and job security.

The boxing event goes as planned, however at one point, Twister steps into the ring during a Chinese demonstration of martial arts forms, and starts to beat and humiliate the performers.

With his fists.

This of course leads to Master Hung and Master Ip battling Twister in the name of Chinese pride.

Merry mishaps ensue.  Roll credits.

The end.

Acting:

As with the first film, Ip Man 2 casts Donnie Yen as it’s main character among an ensemble cast.

While Yen’s acting performance doesn’t really occupy that much of the film’s running time, it really doesn’t need to, as it serves to bolster one of the film’s central themes, namely that of unity.

As in Ip Man 1, Donnie Yen’s performance is calm and reserved for the most part.

In the first film, Ip Man was characterized as being a somewhat eccentric character, an outsider in the eyes of most of his more overbearing peers.

This aspect of Donnie Yen’s performance carries over very nicely from the first film, as the calmness in his performance seems even more genuine given the more energetic atmosphere of the film.

Okay, maybe "genuine" wasn't the right word...

While by no means an amazing performance, Yen does well enough to portray the character as the pillar of strength and certainty that the script demands.

I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it until the day I die, Donnie Yen is not a good actor.

He’s at his best when he has something to hit.

With his fists.

Pallets work pretty good too I guess...

Sammo Hung’s portrayal of Hung Jan Nam is probably the strongest performance in the film.

Even from a purely visual standpoint, the character is bold and striking, with a very distinct wardrobe, a flashy streak of gray going through his slicked back hair, and a physical presence like no other.

Hah, fat baby...

In dialogue with Donnie Yen and other actors, Hung exudes a strength and forcefulness that suit his character perfectly.

Hung Jan Nam is supposed to be an overbearing, “my way or the highway” sort of character, and Sammo Hung captures this beautifully.

From the perpetually accusatory tone of his voice, to the way his eyebrows go nuts every time he opens his mouth, Sammo Hungs performance is wholly complete and, sadly, painfully outclasses Donnie Yen’s limited acting ability.

ACTING.

Huang Xiao Ming’s portrayal of Wong Shun Leung is comparable to his fighting ability.

He does alright, given that he lacks experience, but there’s nothing really there that sets him apart from any of the other popstars turned actors.

I'm lookin' at YOU Nicholas Tse...

Despite this, given the sharpness to his features, and the cocky sense of youthfulness that he exudes, it’s hard to say he wasn’t well cast.

For the most part, he does well, however the role is very small, with only the most basic of “kung fu asshole” lines in the script associated with it.

The point is, he didn’t really leave an impression.

Kind of like this sack of fuck.

Xiong Dai Lin as Ip Man’s wife,  is sadly much less of an element of this film as in Ip Man 1.

In the first film, she was Ip Man’s rock, she was his foundation.

In the early scenes she sort of wore the pants in their relationship, an attitude she was able to portray exceedingly well with her physical stature and rigid body language.

Pants are overrated.

In the latter scenes we got to see the 2 of them suffer together under the tyranny of the Japanese, which she also was able to convincingly.

While she wasn’t at all a major element in Ip Man 1, she felt present for most of the important events in the story.

In the sequel she’s just pregnant scenery.

I wouldn't mind wallpaper that looked like this...

It should be said, that despite having very limited roles, Kent Cheng, Fan Siu Wong, and Simon Yam, all do exceedingly well with what they’re given to work with.

While Kent Cheng and Simon Yam basically play the same cool guys they’ve been playing for years, Fan Siu Wong surprised me yet again with his performance.

The only other movie I’ve seen Wong in was Riki Oh, and while that was fun, it did little to convince me that he had any sort of talent, physical or otherwise.

Then I saw him in Ip Man, as the Northerner Jin Shan Zao, and I was blown away!

Not only could the guy still fight, but his acting was animated and engaging.

In Ip Man 2, Wong is sadly only in a few scenes, none of which contain any fighting, however he leaves an impression with his bold manner of speaking and his wildly expressive face.

Now THAT'S a fuckin' MAN FACE!

One thing worth noting in Ip Man 2, is that the performances for the British characters are downright terrible.

From what I’ve gathered by watching a shit ton of Japanese and Chinese movies over the years, my guess is that actors that speak in English in these films are asked to speak slower than normal so as to allow the theater audience to better understand them or read the subtitles on screen.

Even so, most of the Brits in Ip Man 2, sound both childish and SLOW.

Like, Little Bear slow.

SOOOOOO FUCKING SLOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!

Darren Shahlavi’s acting performance as the villain of the film, Twister, is both embarassing and confusing to watch.

The man seemingly can only speak at one volume, namely shouting at the top of his lungs.

There are times when his character is supposed to be adopting a condescending tone wherein he sounds more like he’s about to cry or throw a tantrum.

Oh yeah, and his resemblance to Hugo Weaving is downright cosmic.

It makes me laugh because the examples pics are horrible, and both guys have the opposite expressions.

In all, pretty much all of the Brits in Ip Man 2 don’t so much as give performances, as they do fulfill every conceivable ugly stereotype of the “foreign white devil.”

Action:

*WARNING, SPOILERS MAY EXIST AHEAD!*

As with the previous film, Ip Man 2 is packed to the hilt with fight scenes of the highest quality.

Unlike the first film however, which took on a darker and more violent tone in it’s second half, thereby causing the choreography to follow suit by making the violence seem more severe, Ip Man 2 remains consistently more vibrant and energetic throughout.

Color Correction: It makes a difference.

In fact, I would feel comfortable in saying that the fight sequences in Ip Man 2 are, in general; better than in the first film.

Much like in the first film, the fights gradually ascend in quality and dramatic relevance as the film progresses.

The first fight in the film, a friendly sparring session between Donnie Yen and Huang Xiao Ming, closely mirrors that of the the opening spar between Ip Man and Chen Zhi Hui’s Master Liao from the first movie.

So when I say "Master Liao" you have no idea who I'm talking about, but when I say "That one guy that got slapped in the throat a shit ton of times" you instantly know? WTF...

Except that the sparring in Ip Man 2 is much faster paced and aggressive in nature.

From the very first fight in Ip Man 2, one can tell that, cinematographically; the choreography is going to be very different from in the first film.

The first Ip Man had a very traditional, “golden age of Hong Kong cinema” kind of style to it.

An example of the differences in cinematography.

Most every fight in the film made liberal use of full body establishing shots and sweeping pans to give a sense of reality and depth to the performances and intensify the drama respectively.

It was straightforward, clean, and every movement was distinct and easy to identify.

Ip Man 2 changes things up quite a bit by stepping up the energy level a few notches and introducing some elements of gimmickry into the mix.

GIMMICKRY.

By “gimmickry” I’m not referring to wires, as those were used to great effect in both films, but rather the use of tighter, and more selective camera angles that typically emphasize specific focal points in the action as opposed to the entire bodies of the combatants.

As a result, many of the fights consist close-up shots of limbs, or chest-up shots that feel a little claustrophobic at times.

The trade-off though, is that most of the fights consist of less posturing, and more balls-out, arms length exchanges.

DREAM COME-FUCKING TRUE.

This is not a bad thing, however it does make for fights where quick cuts are evident, and educated eyes are sometimes required to follow the choreography from punch to punch.

Speaking of punching, the blindingly fast handwork that was used to such stupendous effect in the first film is back and better than ever.

Honestly, to count the number of times Donnie Yen busts out protracted flurries of buzzsaw punches on people in this movie would be like trying to count grains of sand on the beach.

Better pack your sleeping bag kiddo...

Despite this, because of the faster and more elaborate choreography, these flurries seem much more organic, legitimately seeming like part of a larger combination of motions as opposed to a show-stopping finishing move.

In general, the choreography seems to favor motion and activity over individual, flashier strikes.

Example.

It is impressive to note that Huang Xiao Ming, despite being a popstar with virtually no martial arts background, manages to hold his own under the demands of the choreography.

That’s not to say he’s an action star in the making, but among the likes of other fighting popstars like Nicholas Tse, Jay Chou, and Shawn Yue, he did alright.

Despite my praise, Huang exhibits a stiffness that is somewhat unsettling.

Honestly, the man holds his hands up like he’s never done it before, in a mirror or otherwise.

Sammo... How could you let the kid look like such a feeb?

On top of that, his trunk displays little movement, leaving his arms to do all the work for him, causing most of his strikes to seem “hollow” and lacking in power and intent.

He also tends to plant his feet in such a way that it reeks of him being afraid to move and mess up the framing for the cinematographer.

He also seems as times to be trying so hard to remember the steps to the choreography, that he forgets to use his facial expressions to heighten the drama.

He also smells bad.

Nah, I’m just kidding about that last part, I’m sure he smells fine.

Point is, for an untrained screen-fighter, he does just about as well as can be expected, even going so far as to be somewhat impressive during his one-on-one with the Hung Gar student called Kei.

FEEB FIGHT!!!!

Donnie Yen’s fighting performance in Ip Man 2 is nothing short of spectacular.

In the first film, Donnie Yen seemed, in my opinion, to be somewhat uncomfortable with Wing Chun.

I said before, in my EPIC Tribute to Donnie Yen, that Wing Chun uses motions and principles that are contrary to nearly all of Donnie Yen’s previous performances, and in Ip Man 1, this fact was somewhat apparent.

In Ip Man 1, Mr. Yen seemed stiff at times, with some of his blocks and parries coming across as too rigid, and somewhat robotic.

Not only that, but after watching Ip Man 2, his fast hands just plain didn’t seem as fast.

Aw man, that is SO fuckin' slow...

In Ip Man 2, Donnie Yen’s performance is much more fluid and organic, with his repertoire being somewhat bolstered, as necessitated by the faster-paced choreography, and his fast punches coming out in a much more visually impressive circular loop as opposed to the straight punches from the first film.

You can't really see it, but trust me, it's awesome.

Much like in the earlier fights in Ip Man 1, Yen’s movements seem somewhat lax during the first few fights in the film, only to gradually build in momentum until he reaches peak form at the end.

Despite the inherent spectacle involved in watching Donnie Yen fighting 20 men at once in the first half hour of the film, I found his fighting to be in much better form in some of the latter scenes.

The centerpiece of the film is a series of one on one bouts between Donnie Yen, and 3 masters of various martial disciplines, with the last being Sammo Hung.

In addition to this, the fights take place atop a convincingly rickety dinner table surrounded by upturned chairs.

The first of these masters, we’ll call him “Blinks,” utilizes what looks to be some sort of Mantis Style kung fu variant.

His strikes are wild and employ the full force of his body via fancy kicks and aerial maneuvers.

The choreography here is a bit choppy, as Blinks’ movements are a little uncoordinated and not all that convincing when he’s on the wires.

YOU FOOL! How could you let Uncle Cheng back on the wire rig so shortly after his surgery!?

Even so, the fight is bolstered by the use of the table as a prop, as well as a pretty solid piece of music by composer Kenji Kawai backing it.

It should be noted that the soundtrack for Ip Man 2 is spectacular, and really served to dignify the movie despite it’s somewhat silly last half.

Pictured: The silly last half.

The second fight in the table scene is between Donnie Yen and a master that employs what appeared to be some form of Baguazhang.

"Walking the circle"

This particular master’s movements were slicker and more tactile than Blinks’, resulting in a fight conducted at a somewhat slower pace, but with better defined movements.

A highlight of this fight is watching the Bagua fighter show off his limberness and float in and out of stances with an almost otherworldly grace.

"And then, without warning, Uncle decided to up and take a shit, right there on the dinner table..."

Again, the music is great during this scene.

Despite their limited fighting presence in the film, both Blinks and the Bagua fighter come across as extremely animated and well-defined characters that were fun to watch.

“Haha, Sammo Hung gets the big drum.”

That’s what I said the first time Mr. Hung’s music cue sounded and he appeared on screen.

Rest assured, his fighting performance in Ip Man 2 is certainly worthy of the big drum.

Sammo Hung’s first fight is a brief but masterfully choreographed battle with Donnie Yen at the end of the table sequence.

The fight is meant to portray the 2 as being evenly matched, and as such there is no real contact throughout.

Well, aside from maybe this.

The sequence is a prime example of one of my favorite elements of Hong Kong style choreography, namely the complex and fast-paced sparring and handwork.

Nearly every strike launched in this sequence is parried in some way, resulting in intense exchanges within arms reach for nearly entire duration of the fight.

During this sequence, the difference in style between Hung Gar and Wing Chun is evident pretty much from the first punch.

Pictured: The first punch.

Sammo’s strikes are wider, more circular, and ultimately more form based than the relatively straightforward nature of Donnie’s Wing Chun.

In addition to this, Sammo also assumes a number of stances throughout the fight, most notably a horse stance towards the end.

The whole sequence is a delight to watch, with an intense music score, and a balls-out, almost Dragonball Z-esque finale that had me giggling like a 5 year old.

Pictured: The Finale.

The fights in the last half of the movie deal exclusively with Darren Shahlavi’s boxer character fighting against Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen, in that order.

Shahlavi’s performance, as a boxer, is not the best I’ve ever seen.

The man has a pretty good resume for fighting roles in movies, especially in the 90′s, however the only one I know of that cast him as a boxer, was I Spy, which had him facing off against Eddie Murphy.

What, you thought I was fuckin' with you?

The fights in I Spy were a joke.

Sadly, the film was not.

As a boxer in Ip Man 2, Darren Shahlavi’s movements are a little bit off.

His footwork is atrocious, in the sense that he doesn’t really have any.

More importantly though, I think the real problem isn’t any fault of Shahlavi’s, but rather that of Sammo Hung, the choreographer.

Hong Kong style choreography has a look to it, a method to it, that just doesn’t represent boxing very well at all.

It emphasizes wide and showy motions for the sake of making the movements more visible and theatrical, while boxing does exactly the opposite.

Unless of course you're Sakio Bika.

Fast and compact strikes, devoid of wasted motion are the objective in boxing, and as such, it doesn’t translate to choreography very well, Chinese or otherwise.

Not only that, but the parrying and blocking that I love so much in Chinese choreography, is something you just plain don’t see in boxing.

*Sigh* Unless of course you're Winky Wright...

Slipping and ducking are the more common methods of defense in boxing, as opposed to letting your opponent manipulate and displace your hands AKA your only weapons.

Despite his fighting not really having any boxing science to it, Shahlavi’s brawling and overall presence is actually quite impressive.

I felt Shahlavi’s first fight in the film, against Sammo Hung, was actually the better exposition of his skills as a performer.

C-C-C-COUNTER!!!!

The fight is shot in such a way as to spotlight Sammo, however Shahlavi makes a decent impression.

His fighting has a wild intensity to it that’s mostly foreign to Hong Kong movies.

His movements are aggressive and pressuring, with a shit ton of scowling, flexing and grunting thrown in for good measure.

Oh no, he's totally not flexing. Not at all...

His fight with Sammo works, not only because the fighting is good, but mostly because of the drama of the situation.

The idea is that, Sammo does well in the beginning due to his skills, however the inherent physicality of his opponent eventually begins to weigh down on him.

The fight is melodramatic as fuck, but manages to work on a purely visceral level.

Ah wrestling, I can make references to it from just about anything.

The final battle in the film is, of course, a grudge match between Donnie Yen and Darren Shahlavi.

The whole thing is a bloody and melodramatic rollercoaster that leaves you hating the British and loving the fuck out of the Chinese.

Pictured: Why I hate the British.

It’s great fun.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it to see Donnie Yen get his face punched in for a change.

Some screen fighters have a tendency to not take hits with as much zeal as they probably should.

This is typically evident amongst “baby face” screen fighters that rarely, if ever, play villainous roles.

This would include the likes of Jet Li, Steven Seagal, and in rare cases, Donnie Yen.

You see that little cut on his forehead? That's the only fuckin' hit he took in this entire epic fuckin' fight!

Ip Man 1 and 2 represented some of the rare instances in which Mr. Yen didn’t really take hits all that well.

Actually, the real problem was the fact that he never really got hit in both movies.

Do you know how many times Hiroyuki Ikeuchi hit Donnie Yen during the end fight in Ip Man 1?

3 times.

*Gasp!* He's got a bloody lip!

Well, thank God for the end of Ip Man 2, ’cause I tell yah’, Mr. Yen takes a whuppin’.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t take his licks half as good as Sammo Hung.

Then again, nobody does, except for maybe Mick Foley.

Mick Foley on the average Tuesday.

The end fight in Ip Man 2 has a very comfortable sense of ebb and flow to it.

Unlike in Undisputed 3, (see review here) where the final fight felt like it adopted the pace it did because it was convenient to do so, Ip Man 2′s fight seems to have been carried out the way it was because it made sense to.

The whole idea behind the fight, I think, is that the physicality of Shahlavi is a constant advantage, while the technical and innovative skills of Donnie Yen’s Ip Man are supposed to be a brief counter to it.

Um, pretty sure he meant to do that. Yeah....

In other words, Ip Man is technically losing the fight throughout, however, whenever he is able to stymie Twister with new angles and techniques, he can briefly turn the tide until Twister figures him out again.

Yeah, pretty sure that's a new angle.

It’s an interesting and artful way to compose a fight that, thankfully, results in something much more than a Rocky IV-esque slugfest.

The final “comeback” sequence of the fight is beautifully edited, and yes, set to a wonderful piece of music.

I won’t spoil the details of it here, but I will say this, it may go on just a second or 2 too long, but it makes a fair amount of sense and is fucking awesome to watch, so it gets a thumbs up from me.

Seriously, if I had been in the theater for the big climax of Ip Man 2, I’d probably be yelling, “FUCK YEAH!”

Oh well, why not....

Ip Man 2 is not as good as it’s predecessor.

What begins as a traditional martial arts film, quickly devolves into a shameless rip-off of Rocky IV.

That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable film.

I found most of the performances to be very good, and the fights were downright amazing at times.

The difference between the 2 films, is that Ip Man 1 had a great deal of heart, while it’s sequel attempts to artificially manufacture it by toying with our basest of emotions.

Even so, Chinese melodrama and nationalism has a way of pushing just the right buttons for me, and in the case of Ip Man 2, it worked.

It made me giggle in disbelief at how silly some of it’s dialogue and plot points were, but I bought into it nonetheless.

Even if it’s “heart” is fake, I appreciate that Ip Man 2 at least attempts to have some.

Thanks Ip Man 2, for not being Transformers 2.

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