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DID YOU READ

“Ip Man 2,” Reviewed

“Ip Man 2,” Reviewed (photo)

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A kung fu master is asked by one of his students, “Master, could you fight ten men at once?” The master considers the question, then replies. “It is better,” he says, “not to fight.” Good advice anywhere but in a kung fu spectacular like “Ip Man 2.” Better not to fight? In a martial arts film? Yeah right.

Thank God Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a total hypocrite. He may preach nonviolence, but in practice, Ip’s ready to throw down at any time for almost any reason. A kid comes to his school curious about his skills, he fights him. The same kid brings more friends to test Ip, he fights them as well. The same kid gets into a scuffle with a rival school, Ip fights the entire school. There’s significantly more than ten of them, too.

Ip’s hypocrisy is to the movie’s credit. Who wants to see a kung fu movie about a guy who refuses to fight? Not me, especially not when that movie stars Donnie Yen, a great martial artist and naturally gifted actor. Ip Man doesn’t just beat the crap out of people, he beats the crap out of people in style. Every move is done with grace and a personal flourish. He makes it all look so easy, and his enthusiasm is infectious. While he’s fighting, Yen’s much more likely to crack a smile than break a sweat.

His character sounds like a super hero — bitten by a radioactive ip or something — but no, he’s a historical figure best known for popularizing Wing Chun kung fu in China and for teaching Bruce Lee how to fight. “Ip Man 2” is a sequel to 2008’s “Ip Man,” though you don’t need to have seen the original to understand what’s going on (I hadn’t and I could anyway).

Ip comes to Hong Kong looking to establish a new Wing Chun school but butts up against the cabal of established kung fu clubs, who don’t look kindly on any competition. That conflict leads directly to the films best sequence, where Ip fights all the local masters in rapid succession atop a wobbly table. If he can beat them all without falling off, he’ll earn the right to operate as a licensed martial arts instructor. This bravura setpiece culminates in an instant classic movie fight between Yen and Sammo Hung (also the film’s action director) playing Master Hung, man’s man and leader of the cabal. Their brawl’s one of those kung fu movie holy grails where every element gels into perfect kinetic bliss: great choreography, good camerawork, clear editing, and real emotional stakes thanks to two great actors playing two compelling characters.

That table fight about an hour into the picture is where “Ip Man 2” hits its visceral and emotional peak. Though it’s primarily been a story about mortality and the value of education (and, yes, beating the crap out of people in style) to that point, the focus then shifts to a much less satisfying “Rocky IV” riff, with some of the most caricatured racist Brits ever committed to celluloid in the role of the eeeeeeeevil Soviets. I enjoy watching pompous white dudes get their comeuppance as much as the next guy, but the maniacally evil British boxer Twister (Darren Shahlavi) and his compatriots are cartoonish buffoons. Ip’s battle with them has none of the pathos of his genuinely emotional war with Hung.

Still, Yen’s in top form and the fights and stunts throughout are stellar. And, despite Ip’s personal philosophy, there’s an awful lot of them.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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