Mandarin Yīdài Zōngshī
Cantonese Jat1 Doi6 Zung1 Si1
Literally Ancestral teacher of a generation
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
Produced by Ng See-yuen
The film narrates the life of the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man, beginning in the 1930s in Foshan and moving on to cover his flight to Hong Kong after the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the events leading up to his death.
The movie begins with Ip Man reflecting on martial arts, and then cuts to a scene of a fight under the rain between Ip and a dozen combatants. Ip Man wins, and experiences flashbacks of his life, from his early training at the age of seven to his induction into martial arts by his master Chan Wah-shun, and his marriage to his wife Cheung Wing-sing.
Ip Man’s peaceful existence is threatened by the arrival of Gong Yutian, the Wudang Boxing martial arts grandmaster from northern China, who announces that he has already retired and has appointed Ma San as his heir in the North. He then concedes that the South should have its own heir. A flurry of discussions and fights erupt as various masters attempt to challenge Gong, but they are all barred by Ma San. As the Southern masters are deliberating on a representative, Gong Yutian’s daughter Gong Er arrives and she tries to convince her father not to continue the fight, as she feels they are all unworthy. Meanwhile, the Southern masters decide on Ip Man to represent them, and Ip proceeds to be tested by three Southern masters before he challenges Gong Yutian. However, the “fight” between Ip and Gong turns out to be actually an exchange of philosophical ideas. Gong declares Ip the winner and returns to northern China. However, Gong Er sets out to regain her family’s honour by challenging Ip Man, and they agree that if anything breaks, Ip loses. “Kung Fu is about precision”, so whoever breaks a piece of furniture during the fight will be the loser. An intense fight breaks out between Ip Man and Gong Er, which concludes with victory for Gong because Ip broke a step at the very end (albeit while ‘saving Gong from falling’). Ip and Gong then part on friendly terms, with Ip saying he wants a rematch.