Ip Man: The Legend is Born aka Ip Man Zero
by Richard von Busack
Director Herman Yau prequalizes the wing chun master’s career and tells of a rivalry that the long time fight-movie fan will be able to discern from the first moment we meet the child version of Ip Man (later played by Dennis To) and his half-brother Ip Tin Chi (Siu-Wong Fan). The fight between the two as adults is worth waiting for, but you will feel that you’re sitting there waiting for it; while scriptwriter Erica Chan tries to introduce some love interest (and some women warriors) they’re swept aside for the more obvious rivalry.
The kung fu itself is all in the wrist action; the fight scenes look like a superfast version of the playground game of “Hot Hands” with lots of slapping. The more trad martial arts is augmented with what’s later described as the addition of “difficult to identify” fighting—not that difficult, if you’ve seen Curly parry Moe’s fingers to the eyes; there’s an homage to that famous move here. Unsophisticated stuff, in short; European villains chuckle about “Chinese pigs” and get a comeuppance; the main villain cries like a baby when he’s cornered.