(Showboat Blu-ray/DVD retail/rental)
Wilson Yip’s historically revisionist action film takes martial arts back to basics with the story of the titular grand master of the ‘wing chun’ fighting style and mentor of screen legend Bruce Lee. The film focuses on the mid-period of the life of master Ip (Donnie Yen), when the mild-mannered family man was forced into poverty during the Sino-Japan war of the late 1930s and eventually rebelled against the nation’s invaders in the way he best knew how.
That story – essentially several bouts of combat with the occupying army climaxing with a one-on-one between Ip and a brutal Japanese general karate expert – is used to celebrate the southern Chinese fighting style and to commemorate Chinese resistance to Japan. It’s a far too simplistic a representation of historical events to take seriously, but the combat sequences, choreographed by action director Sammo Hung, who started out playing the villain in Enter the Dragon, are splendid.