The Legend Is Born – Ip Man


"...this is what you get when you try and make your own Ip Man flick based on the popularity of the other two."

- Mighty Peking Man

The Legend Is Born – Ip Man (2010)

AKA: Yip Man 3, Yip Man Prequel

Director: Herman Yau

Cast: Dennis To, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Fan Siu-wong, Huang Yi, Ip Chun

Running Time: 100 min.

Plot: See review below.

Availability: This title is available at


MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: “The Legend is Born: Ip Man” is truly forgettable. It doesn’t suck major ass, nor is it any good, it’s just stuck in so-so land.

Not sure how closely it's tied with the Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen movies, but much of the same crew and talent (with the exception of the obvious) worked on it. Some say it is, others say it isn’t. Some of the people who worked on both films have openly stated that it’s not, but maybe that’s their way of relieving themselves of critical pressure surrounding their “prequel.”

Official or not, I classify it as “Your Ip Man film is usless without Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen.”

Considering the film’s budget, which seems to be fair, I feel like the result could have been a lot better. The slickness is present, but there’s something messy about the film’s structure. For being the ‘movie land’ story of a teenage Ip Man, it could have worked 1 of 2 ways:

- Total training movie, with mindless action scenes thrown in
- Mindless action movie, with training scenes thrown in

As it stands, the story had too many signs of forced theatrics: twists, spies, romance, love triangles, and New Fist of Fury-esque Japanese villains. It’s a cluster fuck if you ask me, especially for being a “prequel.”

The fight scenes aren’t bad, but they feel weak compared to Sammo’s choreography work in the other “Ip Man” films. They never reach the peak or come satisfyingly close (and don’t give me that “but he’s not an established master yet” bullshit).

“The Legend is Born: Ip Man” is directed by Herman Yau, who has produced and directed more than 70 movies. He’s mostly known for the cult favorites, “The Untold Story” and “Ebola Syndrome.” Since I’ve only seen a couple of his films, I have no clue how far his talent goes, but it would be safe to assume that “The Legend is Born: Ip Man” isn’t one of his best. Despite his diverse (and edgy) filmography, a “Ip Man” film seems like the last thing I’d give this guy to tackle.

As far as Dennis To (Ip Man)... well, better luck next time, fella. His performance was acceptable, but any brilliance this guy has is overshadowed by the disorganized production. Not only that, but come on, you're up against Donnie Yen for fuck's sake. That would be like some unknown playing Chen Zhen in a prequel to "Fist of Fury" a few months after Bruce Lee's original.

By the way, I could give a rat’s ass about Ip Chun (actual son of the real life Ip Man) making an appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the guy, but I’d rather watch a good movie without him, than a half-assed one with him. My point is: don’t think Ip Chun’s cameo gives this film any kind of credability. The same can be said about Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao’s appearances.

If this were a non-Ip Man movie that stood on its own, I think it would have worked a little better. I know the comparisons are getting old, but this is what you get when you try and make your own Ip Man flick based on the popularity of the other two.