IP MAN: CRISIS TIME (2020) short review

From director Li Liming, who last year brought us the surprisingly solid Ip Man: Kung Fu Master, now comes Ip Man: Crisis Time, focusing on Bruce Lee’s martial arts instructor (this time played by Chen Kaige protégé Zhao Wenhao) when he was a college student in Hong Kong. When a recently-escaped criminal (Mu Fengbin) right out of his past invades his college and takes its students as hostages, the young Ip Man is left to save the day from the inside. The premise is basically Die Hard in a university building, with Ip Man slapped onto it as a John McClane substitute (Ip McClane if you will); it’s like remaking Taken in China, with Wong Fei Hung as the father looking for his kidnapped child. It doesn’t make much sense, and Zhao Wenhao has neither the charisma nor the fighting ability to properly portray Ip Man, while villain Mu Fengbin was probably cast more for his passing ressemblance to Hiroshi Abe than anything else. Yet with its brisk 78-minute runtime and some fine action direction from Sun Fei (returning after Ip Man: Kung Fu Master), Crisis Time rarely bores. Let’s just pretend we didn’t notice the risibly unconvincing views of early 20th-century Hong Kong (complete with TV antennas!). **

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