DID YOU READ

“Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster,” Reviewed

“Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster,” Reviewed (photo)

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A version of this review originally ran as part of our coverage of Fantastic Fest 2010.

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: Legend of the Grandmaster.” 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. 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 film’s 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. To that point, it’s been a story about mortality, the value of education and, yes, beating the crap out of people. From that point on, the focus then shifts to a much less satisfying “Rocky IV” riff, with a couple of truly racist Brits playing the role of Ivan Drago and the evil 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 what Ip claims is his personal philosophy, there’s an awful lot of them.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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