Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

5 Movies That SHOULD Be Remade

And the point of this was.....?

These days it seems every big budget summer movie is a remake or a sequel.

While this is hardly a new phenomenon, it’s alarming just how many of these films seem unwarranted given the nature of their predecessors.

In my eyes, the point of remaking a film is to improve it, or in the case of films that are severely dated; repackage them for contemporary audiences.

Some of the worst examples of a remake that I can think of are A Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, and Rollerball.

In the case of the former 2, neither made any attempt whatsoever to expand on what made the original films great.

Psycho was of course a shot for shot retread, making it essentially “Psycho with Vince Vaughn” and little else.

Elm Street expanded on a sub plot or 2 that was already embedded in the mythology (though wisely underplayed) of the series, but ultimately came across as soulless and downright ugly due to it’s poor pacing and even worse special effects.

Sometimes the old ways are best...

Rollerball… Well, Rollerball was pretty much as complete a fuck-up a filmmaker can produce… Especially when said filmmaker happens to be someone talented like John McTiernan.

I think it’s best we all just move along and pretend Rollerball never happened.

Anyway, in light of all the buzz surrounding the new embarassingly¬†Twilight inspired Teen Wolf and Fright Night remakes, I decided to put (literally) a few minutes into coming up with a handful of movies that I actually wouldn’t mind seeing get remade at some point.

1. Robot Jox

Robot Jox = Rocky IV with giant robots.

That alone should tell you this movie is worthy of a big budget remake.

The original Robot Jox was a pretty awful low budget sci-fi film with mediocre stop-motion and miniature effects.

Despite all this, the core concept; that of robotic gladiatorial competitions being staged in place of war between nations, definitely still holds water in my book.

It worked for Rocky IV, it worked for Ip Man 2, and it would’ve worked for Robot Jox, had the production had some flash to go with it’s premise.

The end product would be dumb as all hell, but with state-of-the-art special effects, and even an ounce of the heart of Rocky IV; I think it could be stupid fun.

REALLY stupid fun.

At the very least, a Robot Jox remake would probably turn out better than Real Steel… Or either of Michael Bay’s Transformer movies.

Anyone wanna’ come with me to see Real Steel when it drops this October?

2. The Land That Time Forgot

... Is that T-Rex drowning?

Surprisingly enough, this one was already remade in 2009, in the form of a “mockbuster” produced by the oh so infamous crew over at The Asylum productions.

Given that everything The Asylum produces is essentially of the “ironically bad” variety, I don’t think it’s asking too much if we pretend the 2009 version of The Land That Time Forgot never happened.

Hmm, I wonder how many times I’m gonna’ have to say that over the course of this article…

Anyway, The Land That Time Forgot was a classic adventure story loosely based on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs AKA The Tarzan Guy.

When I was young, this film was one that I could always depend on to bring a smile to my face.

Even to this day, Land has a lot going for it.

It had cool period costumes and tech (WWI), explosions and volcanoes, and of course; giant dinosaur puppets fighting German sailors.

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

Dinosaurs are always a win in my book, but when you put them head to head with U-boats and machine guns, well; it’s very hard to get that wrong.

In my mind, a solid modern remake of Land would play out kind of like the Skull Island segment of Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake, only for 2 hours instead of… Well, 1 hour… And with less giant gorilla ice-skating.

In my eyes, more dinosaurs always equals a better film.

3. The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids’ plot concerns a meteor shower than blinds everyone on the planet who views it, leaving the vast majority of the population virtually helpless.

The remaining sighted individuals find themselves thrust into a nightmarish world of violence and danger as disorder and chaos threatens to consume the last vestiges of society.

As the icing on the cake of it all, a new threat emerges in the form of vampiric, mobile plant creatures called Triffids that consume humans and multiply at a fantastic rate.

Triffids has been remade before, but not successfully; or with a Hollywood budget.

It’s hard to argue Triffids’ premise isn’t intriguing, however the reason I’d be interested to see a remake, is because the film is kind of silly to look at by today’s standards.

Pictured: The title monster.

On paper, the plot sounds amazing, but in execution; the film just doesn’t hold up all that well.

As with seemingly every movie I mention on this list, I think Triffids would be a helluva’ thrill ride with a new coat of paint and a few extra bits of characterization.

4. 2o,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Anyone who’s read a post or 2 from this blog probably already knows how much I love Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

What can I say other than the fact that it’s a thrilling and accessible adaptation of an amazing piece of fiction.

From a technical standpoint, few films can measure up to Leagues’ combination of Oscar winning effects work and absolutely brilliant casting direction.

In that sense, it’s hard to imagine a retread of Leagues being better than the 1954 version, however it’s one of those stories that I feel should be shared with the youth of every generation.

What I wouldn’t give to see what modern special effects could do for the giant squid sequence…

5. Them!

Them! is a great movie.

It’s a B-movie by today’s standards, and is indeed kind of hokey; but if you ask me, Them! is a terrific suspense thriller.

The pacing is absolutely brilliant, the Cold War metaphors none-too-subtle, and the monsters memorable, formidable, and truly horrifying.

At it’s core, Them! is about giant ants trying to take over the world of man.

One of the greatest successes of Them!, is the fact that it tells an epic-sized story without sacrificing characterization.

To that end, if Them! were to be remade, I think I’d actually prefer to see it maintain a similar scale to the original.

Modern special effects allow filmmakers *cough!* Michael Bay *cough!* to fill the screen with all sorts of crazy shit, to the point in which some of the craziness and spectacle actually loses some of it’s impact, or worse yet; ends up going unnoticed on the periphery of the screen.

While I admit it would be cool to see an army of ants bum-rushing L.A., truth be told; I found the sewer sequence at the conclusion of the original film to be more than sufficient for a climax.

The really cool thing about remaking Them!, and this is totally unrelated to the actual integrity of the film; is the fact that you could do all sorts of crazy J.J. Abrams shit with the marketing.

A good chunk of Them! didn’t even make mention of giant ants, so I think it would be kind of cool to tease the movie as a cop thriller or military action flick, without showing a frame of ant action.

Imagine how fucked up that would be to show up at the theater expecting Black Hawk Down or L.A. Confidential, only to end up having giant ants thrown at you a half an hour into the movie?

Sure, plenty of people would feel robbed or jilted somehow, but if the movie ended up being half as good as the original Them!, chances are a lot of people would end up loving it.

Then again, maybe “a lot of people” don’t appreciate giant monster movies the way I do…

Anyway, there’s my list, feel free to point out some movies you think I left out.

Advertisements

Filed under: Games, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Kingdom For A New Kung Fu Movie…

Is it just me, or is there a serious shortage of kung fu/fighting movies these days?

Back when I first started this blog, the genre was swimming with new titles to choose from.

Ip Man 2 and True Legend had just come out in theaters, and Undisputed 3 was out on video around the same time, not to mention a host of other (trashy) fight movies such as Coweb and Bad Blood were making the rounds as well.

 

Pictured: Industry veteran, Kane Kosugi locks arms with up-and-coming prospect, Jiang Lui Xia. Keep an eye on her, she's pretty talented for an internet star...

While Hong Kong recently saw the release of The Legend is Born: Ip Man, the pile of shit known as City Under Siege, and Donnie Yen’s Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, as far as I’ve heard (and in the case of The Legend is Born: experienced firsthand) not one of these movies turned out to be worth the wait.

City Under Siege: 80% chance of it being "good-bad."

Damn, a lot of “Legend” movies came out in the past year…

Regardless, what happened to all the good fighting movies!?

Even though all of the movies that I just mentioned were released in the past year or so, I think the main reason for my concern/discouragement, is the fact that I may in fact have already waded my way through the vast majority of the kung fu/fighting movies I want to see, leaving me only new releases to look forward to seeing.

You see, quality Kung fu movies are like big budget action films.

At first glance it may seem like there’s a never ending supply of them, however when you take a step and really examine the history of the genre, it becomes all too clear that there really aren’t too many of them.

 

Did I mention that only about 2% of big budget action films are at all worthy your time? Pictured is a prime example of the other 98%.

In the case of big budget action films, this stems from the fact that the blockbuster action film has really only been around for 35-40 years, not to mention the fact that only so many producers exist on the planet to fund such massive monetary endeavors from year to year.

 

Hey Bruckheimer, give it a rest, 'k?

In the case of quality kung fu movies though, the main issue comes in the form of there being only a handful of outstanding performers capable of headlining entire films.

Athleticism and martial arts skills are one thing, but the ability to perform convincingly and dynamically on camera is a totally different beast.

 

Take for example, Randy Couture. Great fighter in real life, TERRIBLE on-screen performer. Acting included.

That being said, there really aren’t that many must-see kung fu/fighting movies, and in my case; I’ve reached a point where I’m running out of new movies to experience.

Sure, there’s the occasional classic that I may have missed and probably should see, (such as the early Sammo Hung flick: The Victim) not to mention there are a few rare and/or elusive films that I have yet to see, (I’m lookin’ at you Merantau and The Broken Path!) but for the most part, I’ve seen the one’s I really wanted to see.

Maybe I was spoiled by Donnie Yen’s blitz of Hong Kong cinema over the past 6 years, but goddamnit; I want a new kung fu movie to get excited about!

Here’s hoping something special happens in the world of kung fu cinema in the next few months, otherwise I swear I’m gonna’ have bust out some faux kung fu moves on some helpless pedestrian just to keep from going into withdrawals…

RANDOM, YET AWESOME, PIC OF BRUCE LEE KILLING CHUCK NORRIS!

Filed under: Games, Kung Fu, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Impending Review: The Expendables

It pains me to do this, but I had a obscenely LONG day today, so you’ll have to settle for a teaser post for today.

Sorry!

Anyway, aside from maybe Ip Man 2, this is just about the biggest movie of the year for me.

Fuck me, if Donnie Yen was in this movie, I’d probably blow my load right there in the theater…

Although it would appear he beat me too it...

Anyway, my brother and I have been anxiously awaiting Sly’s epic for the past 2 years, ever since rumors started popping up that he was shopping the script around post-Rambo.

Remember when I said Rocky was my brother and I’s way of bonding with my dad as a kid?

Well, you can bet Sylvester Stallone was one of our biggest hero’s growing up.

Pictured: Family of the Azn Badger.

While my expectations for The Expendables are, perhaps; unreasonably high, I have no doubt in my mind that it will thrill me as few films before it have done.

Mark my words:

It WILL be awesome.

I have no doubts, I have no worries.

The Expendables WILL be an awesome film, there’s no way it can’t be.

For fuck’s sake, it’s gonna’ be the goddamn Justice League of action movies!

Anyway, consider this a taste of things to come, as I’ll definitely be typing up a review for this one the moment I walk out of the theater.

My only hope is that there is at least one old-school action hero cameo that hasn’t been publicized.

I know Van Damme already made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with the project, but it would definitely make my day if Steven Seagal, or Chuck Norris, or Mark Dacascos, or hell, even Billy Blanks made some sort of appearance in any capacity.

Filed under: Kung Fu, 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.

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

Donate