Unfortunately, being the newcomer, Ip Man naturally though inadvertently ruffles the feathers of the local Martial Arts Club masters. When his student Wong Shun Leung (Xiaoming Huang) is assaulted by rival students, Ip Man is forced to intervene after his nefarious adversaries had pummeled his defenseless protégé. Ip Man is forced to fight at least a dozen martial artists at once, all armed with butcher knives and kendo sticks. The melee ceases only when Ip Man and Leung are surrounded by dozens of opponents and their Master, Hong Zhen Nan (Sammo Hung Kam-bo) intercedes and halts the scuffle.
Master Hung is extremely unwelcoming toward Ip Man. The Grand Master is forced to confront all of the local masters and request admission into their society so he may continue schooling disciples in Wing Chun. Ip Man evenhandedly defeats two of the local masters while miraculously balancing himself on a tilted tabletop precariously resting on a wooden stilt. If Ip Man is to fall, he will be expelled permanently before he even starts disseminating his teachings. An epic confrontation then ensues between Ip Man and Master Hung, ending in a stalemate. Ip Man is welcomed, but only if he pays $100 (relative to 1946 Chinese currency of course) monthly as a membership fee. Refusing to stain his honor, Ip Man declines and decides to continue teaching without their approval.
Meanwhile while tensions are reaching a crescendo, Ip Man helps Leung become employed as a newspaper journalist, and he preaches ancient Chinese aphorisms/wisdom to his followers. Ip Man teaches that martial arts is about spirit and self-cultivation, not entirely about one's technique. Ip Man eventually is forced to once again seek Master Hong's counsel which leads to another violent confrontation. They seem commensurately matched but Ip Man is forced to rescue Hong's son when the Master is out of control. This gentle act of kindness brings the two men together and they forge a friendship that is critical to the second half of the storyline.
When the British begin culturally encroaching on Chinese society, martial artists become the target of defamation for English athletes, particularly for the world boxing champion whose moniker is "Twister" (Darren Shahlavi). Twister is a racist that uses pejorative terms to describe martial artists. In what should have been a mundane exhibition, when Chinese martial artists are insulted by British spectators, Master Hung's honor compels him to challenge Twister. It is obvious that Hung is outclassed, not based on his skill, but because of his age as compared with the young Twister's youth. It does not help his cause that Twister fights dirty and is jacked-up on steroids. When Ip Man demands his friend throw in the towel, he is ignored. Twister pummels Master Hung into a permanent slumber. Hung's family is left widowed and orphaned and the British are bragging incessantly.
When Leung writes about the boxing match he decries Twister's use of fouling and trash-talking as a means to defeating the great Chinese master. This does not escape the attention of the British authorities who incarcerated and beat Leung to make an example of anyone who would dare to dissent. Between Hung's unnecessary death and Leung's mistreatment, Ip Man is all but forced to defend the honor of Chinese society and to take on the behemoth British boxing champion.
Tensions are rising and the stakes are raised to an all time. Although we believe Ip Man is invincible, seeing Master Hung fall to the boxer causes us to doubt the Grand Master's chances. During the fight both Ip Man and Twister are knocked down. Twister hits Ip Man after the bell nearly decapitating him, and the British prohibit the use of kicking during the match to give their man an edge that he is sorely lacking. Despite all of the drama, and the odds and the heinously imposed rules, Ip Man is victorious and pummels the brutish boxer with braggadocio into complete submission.
The primary focus of Ip Man 2 is not the Japanese invaders, it is the British bigots that have arrived on scene to wreak havoc for their financial gain. Ip Man and Master Hung could not remain at loggerheads forever as they shared common values and a similar heritage. However, the British are portrayed as ruthless, insensitive cheaters that are prone to racist remarks and miscalculations of China's strength and values. Great bedfellows are always comingled when confronted with a common enemy that must be expelled. As a special bonus, at the end, a young Bruce Lee asks Ip Man for training, but the Grand Master tells the future legend to approach him again once he is mature and truly prepared for Wing Chun. Here's looking forward to the third and final Ip Man movie.
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