PictureIp Man comes to Blu-ray presented with a solid 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is generally very good indeed, clarity strong throughout, with negligible softness, and little noticeable defects or edge enhancement. Grain is pretty consistent throughout, but in a cinematic way, with just a light sheen pervading the movie. There are only a couple of instances where it seems unruly, and these can easily be dismissed. Both facial detail and skin tones are superb throughout. Given that this is a period piece, there is the same attempt at a vintage colour palette as in the first movie, the movie almost totally devoid of any vibrant and bright primary colours - although this is totally in line with the material. Black levels are strong, with the movie teetering on the brink of crush at several points, but never really getting overwhelmed by it. That said, many of the scenes are immersed in an all-absorbing background shadow which certainly would have benefited from being perfect. A strong, if far from exceptional rendition.
SoundOn the aural front this High Definition release sports no less than 5 different soundtracks, as is not wholly uncommon with Asian Blu-ray releases. Fortunately, you can simplify the options by skipping out the two Mandarin tracks which are mainly dubbed. Although the movie features both Mandarin-speaking and Cantonese-speaking actors, the film was shot with predominant Cantonese - particularly from the lead actors Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung - so, if you don't want to deal with the “dubbed and out of synch” issue, then use one of the Cantonese options.
I have to say that there is very little to discern between the three Cantonese offerings: Linear PCM, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, all mixed to cater for 8 channels. Honestly, whilst I am definitely not complaining about having an over-abundance of sound options, this really is not the kind of movie that shows off the capabilities of a lossless 7.1 mix. The material is largely restrained, with only the elaborate fight sequences - and their exaggerated effects sounds - standing out in the proceedings, and never really showing off excellent dynamics. Dialogue is clear throughout, dominating the frontal array, and the score adds to the more emotional moments as well as benefitting the more rousing sequences. Honestly, it's one of the more memorable, theme-driven offerings I've come across recently on Asian titles, and it comes across excellently on this High Def release. With little bass to speak of, other than some low tones rumbling from the impacts of the blows during the fights, but this is still a nice, well-balanced, albeit technically superfluous offering.
ExtrasAs with the first instalment we get a nice selection of extras, all internationally-friendly, with optional English subtitles. There's a comprehensive 18-minute Making-Of Featurette that takes the opportunity to offer up an overview of the production, detailing a little bit more about Ip Man's life and legacy, the political significance of the film, and showing us some Behind the Scenes Footage, with the cast and crew on hand to offer up soundbites about their experiences. The Cast and Crew Interviews have all the key players present and accounted for to talk in more detail about their work on the project and what they brought to it. There is a Featurette 'on Four Major Scenes' that looks at four of the sets designed for the movie's main sequences, spending a couple of minutes on each of them. The Shooting Diary is pretty short, a behind the scenes montage of scenes being shot, set to music from the film. We also get footage from the Gala Premiere, a Photo Gallery and a few Trailers.
Aside from the comprehensive Interviews, the high point has got to be the inclusion of several Deleted Scenes. As with the release of the first movie, these scenes do well to flesh out the movie and often include material which could have arguable been left in the final product (or made available in an extended cut).
VerdictContinuing the loose biography of one of the biggest martial arts legends in history, the leading proponent of Wing Chun Kung Fu and the Master to a certain man called Bruce Lee, Ip Man 2 picks up exactly where the first movie leaves off and sees the events in the Grandmaster's life that take place during his time in Hong Kong, then under the unwelcome influence of the British Colonials. We see Ip Man face new foes, and make new friends, and eventually stand up to the British in much the same way that he stood up to the Japanese in the first instalment. Obviously aggrandised to make for more a entertaining movie, and littered with blatant propaganda and too many caricature Brit villains, the end result is still a vastly satisfying sequel and companion-piece which concludes the tale of this legend's life.
On Region A-locked Hong Kong Blu-ray we get solid video and audio (as long as you pick the right option), and a decent selection of Extras (which thankfully have English subtitles), including - most notably - some worthy Deleted Scenes. Fans of martial arts action superstar Donnie Yen should consider this another strong entry in what is surely the peak of his career, and fans of martial arts actioners in general would be advised to check this out: the fight scenes with Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung (both together, and independently, are reason enough to watch it in the first place). Hell, maybe even those interested in the more socio-political historical aspects would probably find some nice angles presented here, in amidst the plethora of bone-crunching fight sequences. Newcomers would be advised to go looking for the two-pack edition that boasts both instalments in this great, action-packed biopic. Recommended.
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