Needs More Yen

The Ip Man brand has become big business for Hong Kong cinema. Made without star Donnie Yen anywhere in sight, Ip Man: The Awakening is a direct-to-video martial arts thriller focusing on the folk hero’s younger days. Starring Mo Tse as Ip Man, it’s a breezy adventure with occasionally slick action despite pedestrian direction and hackneyed writing. Made for the Hi-Yah! streaming channel, Ip Man: The Awakening is serviceable b-movie fodder made for its target audience. Nothing more, nothing less.

Visiting Hong Kong, a young Master Ip becomes embroiled in the dark underbelly of human trafficking. Portrayed here as an earnest crusader and man of the people fighting injustice, his fists ultimately save the day. The virtuous Wing Chun master lands in conflict with the villainous Mr. Stark (Sergio De Ieso), a British Westerner running a criminal operation. It’s a simple tale of good versus evil as Ip Man defends allies and battles outsiders corrupting Hong Kong.

Ip Man: The Awakening delivers believable, fairly impressive fight choreography

When Ip Man’s beloved friend’s sister is kidnapped, the plot takes a decidedly jingoistic turn as Ip Man’s incredible skills are directly matched up against Mr. Stark’s lackey and his fearsome Bartitsu techniques. The uniquely British martial art combines boxing with jujitsu. The entire narrative hinges on a spectacular, no-holds-barred battle between Ip Man and the intimidating Westerner employing Bartitsu.

Ip Man: The Awakening delivers believable, fairly impressive fight choreography in an acceptably over-the-top manner. Mo Tse has real skills as a martial artist, though his screen presence is no match for a superstar like Donnie Yen. He’s simply not enough on his own to overcome the cartoonish characterizations and underwhelming screenplay.

Genre fans won’t mind the paper-thin story and a few slapdash elements of national pride which blanket the plot. Everything colors inside the lines in a routine b-movie made for action fans.

Video

Well Go provides a stout, capable 2.35:1 presentation reflecting sharp digital cinematography. The 1080p video offers fantastic facial detail with mostly impressive definition. The bright clarity features a nigh pristine master enhanced by a hot contrast. Darker interiors are less impressive but shadow delineation holds up.

The main feature runs 79 minutes on a BD-25, encoded in sufficient AVC. Well Go’s encoding practices have never been perfect but the stark HD in Ip Man: The Awakening poses no challenges.

The picture quality is excellent but lacking the refinement of more expensive productions. The Chinese b-movie’s transfer is respectable but unpolished. Colors are decently saturated with a few bursts of eye candy.

Audio

The original Mandarin audio and new English dub are heard in 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtracks. First things first, the English dub is haphazard and not recommended. The dub voices are unintentionally hilarious and poorly sync with the moving lips.

The Mandarin audio is a lively affair with discrete elements across the surround channels juicing up the many kicks and punches. It’s a solid mix with meaty bass and tasty directionality. A pleasant score is lightly spread throughout the soundstage in tasteful fashion.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font, inside the scope presentation at all times. Both language tracks are offered in 2.0 Dolby Digital for backwards compatibility with older systems.

Extras

Well Go doesn’t provide any bonus features beyond a few trailers. The disc is coded for Region A.

Ip Man: The Awakening Trailer (01:34 in HD)

Well Go USA Trailers (06:13 in HD) – Trailers for Spiritwalker, Raging Fire and The Paper Tigers play before the main menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page.

Ip Man: The Awakening
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Entirely unrelated to the massive Donnie Yen franchise, this b-movie tale of Ip Man’s younger days in Hong Kong provides impressive fights and little else of note in overly jingoistic storytelling.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: