This evening (N° 2 sprog’s turn) we watched Ip Man, a martial arts film very, very very loosely based on the true life of Chinese martial arts artist and teacher, Yip Man (whose pupils included Bruce Lee). Though the hero figure is a little too saccharine sweet for my tastes the film is interesting for several reasons. The first is its depiction of the way in which Foshnan evolved into a hub of martial arts (wing chun) in the 1930s, with several schools being rapidly founded and thereafter competing energetically against one another. The second is its depiction of the brutal Japanese invasion at the beginning of the second Sino-Japanese war, which, although invented for the film, was based on an all-too-horrific historical reality. The third is a subsidiary plot line about a wing chun master who cannot accept the Japanese yoke and becomes a bandit but is then reduced to robbing his own people. Lastly, the climax of the film comes when a Japanese general, himself a martial arts lover, is obliged to fight Ip Man on level terms because to refuse would represent humiliation not only for him but also for his country. The general is then very publicly beaten, which is of course equally humiliating, but he has been led into a blind alley by his own culture. The scene is cleverly plotted and well acted. I used the word ‘loosely’ three times because, although the real Yip Man was much less heroic and saintly (he was an opium addict, for example), his life was also deserving of a biopic rather than a bromide.