The world’s most famous chain-punching warrior, Ip Man is up to his old tricks again in “Ip Man: The Awakening”.
Co-directed by Li Xijie Adam and Zhang Zhulin, “The Awakening” saddles up the world’s latest Ip Man in former child kung fu star, Miu Tse, whose skills in the film show him to be thoroughly well-suit for the job of the man who trained Bruce Lee.
However, with a combination of a generic story and a running time that’s far too short to truly honor the legacy of its namesake or satisfy martial arts movie fans, “Ip Man: The Awakening” is a routine kung fu flick with some decent fight scenes but is there enough oomph to power it through?
Miu Tse takes on the role of the heroic Wing Chun master Ip Man, with his friend Bufeng played by Chen Guaying. Bufeng’s sister Chan is played by Zhao Yu Xuan, while the villainous duties of the movie fall to Mr. Stark portrayed by Sergio De leso.
Wing Chun master, Ip Man, makes the trek from his native Foshan to Hong Kong, he reconnects with his longtime friend Bufeng who helps Ip Man find employment as a rickshaw driver.
His work in the business leads Ip Man to comes across some local British colonists running a human trafficking operation.
After Ip Man saves some of the women being kidnapped by the traffickers, he finds himself up against the entire operation, including its leader, Mr. Stark.
The Most Conservative “Ip Man” Movie to Date?
In every aspect, “Ip Man: The Awakening” is the most conservative Ip Man movie to date. It barely scrapes a 76-minute runtime, the script is generally flat and leaves most of the characters feeling bland, but its fight scenes are most certainly the movie’s most well-done component.
Former child star Miu Tse doesn’t really get to show what he can do as Ip Man outside of some admittedly well-orchestrated fights, but there’s little of the lavish grandeur to be found in the other Ip Man movies, with or without Donnie Yen, in “The Awakening”.
The movie positions itself as an origin story crossed with a more down-to-Earth adventure for its titular chain-punching hero, but there’s just not all that much in the way of heart-racing thrills that made the “Ip Man” series a worldwide phenomenon on offer in the more pedestrian story of “The Awakening”.
On the level of Wing Chun fight scenes, “The Awakening” does at least offer some decent if not monumental entertainment.
Miu Tse’s Fantastic Work in Taking on a Human Trafficking Gang
Miu Tse does fantastic work in taking on hordes of the human trafficking gang and the generic cardboard version of Ip Man he’s given to work with aside, he at least adds some flair to the mostly serviceable proceedings.
One would think with its surprisingly short running time that “The Awakening” might be non-stop Wing Chun action, but the movie actually keeps its action scenes surprisingly reserved and spaced-out.
Miu Tse overall does His Best to Breathe Life into his Role as Ip Man
This doesn’t help much with the spaces in between the action being so underwhelming, and is perhaps testimony to how well Miu Tse works with the limited material he has to breathe life into Ip Man.
A penultimate lei tai showdown is the movie’s action high point, with Ip Man taking on a real challenge from his opponent. The same can’t be said for the finale, which rests in that gray area between competent and undercooked that unfortunately makes up much of the bulk of “Ip Man: The Awakening”.
Despite the talents of its leading man Miu Tse, and the promise of what he could do with a better script and more fulfilling runtime, “Ip Man: The Awakening” is a passable but potential-missing entry into the Ip Man canon.
Hampered by a running time that’s too short with insufficiently paced action scenes, and a script that gives the audience little reason to get wrapped up in the story, “The Awakening” is the kind of barely passing without flying colors effort that makes one yearn to see the meatier version of what really wanted to be.
Despite a handful of strong fight scenes, “Ip Man: The Awakening” is regrettably a passable, but marginal tale of one of history’s most revered Wing Chun masters.
- “Bro, come on!” -Ip Man (when an opponent on a trolly car pulls a knife on him.)
- “Is that what everyone believes?” -Ip Man (after Bufeng tells him there’s nothing he can do about the rampant crime in Hong Kong.)
- Miu Tse appeared as a child in two movies with Jet Li, “My Father is a Hero” and “New Legend of Shaolin” aka “Legend of the Red Dragon”, playing Li’s son in both films.
- Among Miu Tse’s other credits are “God of Gamblers Returns” with Chow Yun-fat, “The Thousand Faces of Dunjia”, and the TV series “The Legend of Kublai Khan”.
- Co-director Zhang Zhu Lin, previously directed “The Mythical Treasure” in 2018.