by Alistair Bennie Underwood
IP Man (Yip, 2008)
This movie is a cooking pot. It is a hodge podge of interesting concepts and scenery that has a grand mixture of humor, heart, and action. The characters are well thought out and the story is very engaging.
At 108 minutes, this film takes place in 1930’s China and is about Ip Man, a Wing Chun Martial Artists master. He is frequently harassed by outsiders who want to test themselves against his capabilities. However, it is his good nature, caring attitude towards everyone, and level headedness that wins over the love of the people in his village. He is calm and collected and the pride of his hometown. However, everything changes in 1937 when the Japanese invade and the entire city suffers. Ip even has to give up martial art training to conserve energy. The film has an explosive climax in a one on one fight between Ip Man and a General from the invading army.
The movie has many amazing fighting scenes in which Ip Man shows his mastery of the relatively unknown martial arts of Wing Chun. The movie is also beautifully shot and has a lot of tension leading up to the fight scenes.
However, there is never any real thought of Ip losing a fight. He is almost too good. He will definitely not be able to do it with one hit, but he will always win. So, there is no fear for his safety. Also, at times, he seems a little too unconcerned; a little too happy go lucky. The fight scenes are grand, but Ip feels as if he is a little flat. Also, the film does at times suffer from the feeling that you are watching a conventional action hero movie.
Rocky (Avildsen, 1976)
Rocky has much more weight if you know the backstory of the film’s star and writer Sylvester Stallone. This was more than just his breakout movie role; this was his only chance to make something of himself. Stallone was broke and homeless before the film was made.The movie is an underdog story in the truest sense and that spirit is present throughout the entire movie. You feel Rocky working for the ultimate fight. He isn’t expected to win but he still tries his best.
At 119 minutes, the film only gets started once we meet Apollo Creed, who is the heavyweight champion of the world. He wants to put on a show for the people of Philadelphia and decides to give an unknown man a chance to fight him. In comes Rocky Balboa, a former heavyweight boxer who turned into a collector for a local criminal. He takes the chance to fight Apollo. All throughout the film, he trains relentlessly, pursues his best friend’s sister, Adrien, and proves himself to all of Philadelphia.
This film is the story of a true underdog. A relatively naive man who is given the chance to prove himself. Rocky is not attempting to gain anything financially from this fight, or for the profit of others. He is not defending his family’s honor or the honor of the game. He just wants to prove that he has the strength and endurance to survive against possibly the greatest boxer in the world. The film holds many great training montages that you are sucked into and Rocky is very charismatic in a slow simple sort of way. One of the problems with the film, however, is that it takes a long time to actually get going. You can only watch Rocky run for so long before you want something else to happen. Also, on top of that, the ending is very unconventional, and even disappointing.
You would not waste time watching either film. Both have rich characters, phenomenal fight scenes, important messages, and astounding acting skills. However, if you are hoping to see a good action movie with phenomenal acting, Ip Man is the movie to watch. Both have very powerful and interesting characters, but Rocky seems more like a character study as opposed to an action movie. Ip Man has good characters and enough action scenes for you to be sucked in instantly.