Donnie Yen is a long time favorite of mine, although this is mainly due to his martial arts skills and screen presence rather than his acting skills. In Ip Man (or Ye Wen, as they were shouting in the seats next to mine) he delivers a truly solid performance on the acting side, carrying the burden of a nation on his shoulders with gravitas, at least that's what he conveyed to the audience at the cinema. They were actually applauding at times. Then again, moviegoers might be more absorbed over here on a regular basis. I digress.
I'm not going to delve deeper into plot details. The basic stuff is already outlined above, and I also feel the historical accuracy of certain events depicted can be debated. That's a bit of a moot point, though, since most people will watch this for the action scenes. Nobody will be disappointed. Donnie kicks twelve kinds of ass in this movie, and it is all accompanied by some of the meanest sound design I've ever heard. Every one of his rapid punches can be felt as he pummels the poor bastards in his way with the Ip Man-style of martial arts (imdb won't let me spell out the name for some reason). The final bout is epic,but for me it was one scene about halfway through that got my heart beating faster. It involves Donnie, ten Japanese karate practitioners and some of the most furious fighting I've ever seen on screen. You can really sense the anger of his character in this scene. Great stuff.
The film moves forward at a brisk pace and contains a surprisingly large amount of fight scenes. It totally lacks the vintage over-the-top-aesthetics of Donnie Yen's films of the 80's and 90's, but for some people that's a good thing. I personally think this is his finest performance to date.
Highly recommended for fans of martial arts cinema!