Posted: 12/19/2011


The Legend is Born: Ip Man


by Ruben R. Rosario

Now available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Funimation.

Film Monthly Home
Wayne Case
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

The Legend is Born: Ip Man is an awesome prequel to Wilson Yip’s Ip Man 1 & 2 and does a fantastic job standing on it’s own. Set in the early years of Ip Man’s life in Foshan, we see Ip Man and his step brother, Tin Chi, being sent to learn Wing Chun under master Chan Wah-shun by their father. The years go by and throughout the rest of the film we see many things that will change Ip Man’s life forever in the film. He meets his future wife, he learns many unorthodox from a hidden master and is confronted by the impending threat of the Japanese Military. While there isn’t the big star power of Donnie Yen in it, The Legend is Born: Ip Man is impressive with the cameos that do appear, as well as laying down a solid foundation as a prequel film.

Dennis To stars as Ip Man in this film and he does a great job at exhibiting an sincere screen presence from what’s been laid out before him. He never at all seems too cocky and full of himself, like Donnie Yen does in the previous films. Here, we must see him succeed and fail in order for him to become the Ip Man we already know, and Dennis To does a great job at doing it. The fights in the film are also on par with the fights from the first to films. In Legend, the first major fight we get are two masters sparring, while completely blind folded. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then you have no place watching a film like this. The first two films had a lot more stakes, in terms of the drama built into many of the fights and while Legend doesn’t have stakes as severe, the fights are plentiful and should keep any fan of kung fu films a happy camper.

The video on the Blu-Ray of The Legend is Born: Ip Man is presented in a AVC encoded, 1080p transfer, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The transfer is gorgeous and does a great job at visually presenting the film. There are moments of flashbacks that are tinted in a sepia like color, to differentiate them between the saturated color scheme of the present. There’s great contrast levels and an immense level of clarity in the video track that make it absolutely superb. The Audio tracks come in two Dolby True HD 5.1 tracks, the English dub and the original Cantonese track. My biggest problem with Funimation’s dubs thus far on their live action releases are the sync issues. The cast is pretty good at conveying the same emotions as the original language track, but they always manage to remove the viewer, due to the sync not being the same. Overall, the Cantonese track is the way to go on the film, not only for the sake of it being the original, but the fact that its got a great dynamics, as well as some really impressive usage of the surround channels during action sequences.

Funimation can add another win in their for live action collection with The Legend is Born: Ip Man. There’s great kung fu action, ninjas and some really great depth to a character that we already know and love. The film is very fictionalized compared to Wilson Yip’s two films, as well as not having the same high budgets as the previous efforts. Other than these minor quibbles, Funimation has done a great job in presenting another awesome kung fu classic with The Legend is Born: Ip Man that fans will not want to miss. Highly Recommended!

Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.

Got a problem? E-mail us at