Friday 31 March 2023

REVIEW: IP Man The Awakening (2022)

Review by Jon Donnis
In what seems like an endless series of TV shows and Films to feature IP Man, we are once again back with Ip Man, most famously portrayed by legendary actor Donnie Yen in the first 4 films, and then Dennis To in Ip Man: Kung Fu Master, we have a new actor taking on the role, this time it is Tse Miu, or is that Miu Tse, Mo Tse, Tze Miu, Xia Miao, Xie Miao. Look, his name in Chinese is 謝苗, and he seems to have multiple names when translated into English. Anyway, despite being only a few years younger than Dennis To, Tse Miu is seemingly playing a much younger version of Ip Man. 

Set in the 1930s, Ip Man finds himself visiting Hong Kong for the first time, and this is a British run Hong Kong, so the Brits are firmly portrayed as the bad guys here. Brits are rounding up young Chinese women as part of a giant human trafficking ring. They have paid off the Hong Kong police and the locals don't seem to care too much as they are getting in on the action too.

One day Ip Man intervenes when he sees a kidnapping attempt, and by doing so inserts himself right in the middle of trouble and a head on collision with those evil Brits. The bad guys kidnap a friend of his, and now he has to challenge the top guy in a brutal fight, and see whose Kung Fu is best!

One interesting aspect of the film, is the use of an old British martial arts technique called Bartitsu, which outside of The Kingsman and Sherlock Holmes, I have not seen it mentioned or used in any other film, and especially not to this level.

Where as the other Ip Man films are much more serious affairs, I found that The Awakening, especially in the early parts of the film, is a much more light-hearted affair, closer in style to some Jackie Chan films, which was a nice change.

Seeing Tse Miu take on the role is a tricky one for me, he looks much younger than he is in real life, but he also looks very different to both Donnie Yen and Dennis To, who did kind of look similar. So, fans of the other films will instantly find a totally different looking actor playing the part a bit strange. But once you get passed that, I think Tse Miu does a good job playing Ip Man at a much younger age.

The fight scenes are all of the highest quality, and like I mentioned, some of those early scenes are very Jackie Chan like in the use of objects and surroundings, which I did enjoy.

The film is only 1h20m, so a great length to keep the action moving along at a fast pace. A satisfying if predictable ending, as well a decent story helps the film tick every box you would want it to.

The Good
Fun Chinese martial arts film, with some excellent choreography, and strong performances.

The Bad
Some of the early fight scenes in the film are a bit choppy camera wise but do improve towards the end.

A good film for people new to the franchise as well as fans of the other 5 films.

I score IP Man The Awakening a solid 8/10

In UK Cinemas 5 May 2023
Out on DVD June 5th