Two major obstacles stand in the way of Ip Man: The Awakening. Unfortunately, it doesn’t overcome either of them.
First is the looming shadow of Donnie Yen. Ip Man has been depicted in a slew of movies, spin-offs & TV shows over the years, and portrayed by several different actors. However, Yen's indelible performance in the four official Ip Man films is a tough act to follow…if not impossible. Comparatively speaking, newcomer Miu Tse isn’t up to the challenge. He’s got some nice moves, but totally lacks the dramatic chops to make the character engaging (even in martial arts films, that matters).
Second, and most glaringly, this is the Ip Man legend served up as a brand name. Even if Tse was the genre’s Lawrence Oliver, his character is almost completely devoid of any personality or background, apparently written with the conceit that simply calling him Ip Man is all the character exposition we need. Hell, he could be renamed Steve without impacting any aspect of the story or action.
|"Don't worry, buddy! I know the Heimlich Maneuver!"