I DON'T ASK MUCH of kung fu flicks. I don't need any real plot or story, so long as a hurricane of pain is delivered like clockwork every 15 minutes. This goes against every single critical instinct I hold dear; in fact, it sounds exactly like the brainless excuse-making that's usually employed to forgive the existence of Michael Bay. I reconcile this blatant hypocrisy (lamely) as such: One features CG robots smashing into each other while Bay throws his camera into a dryer, the other features two people turning basic brutality into a feat of grace so effortless it would make Mikhail Baryshnikov nut his leotards.
Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster does have a plot—it's the (sorta) true story of a simple teacher with a superhero's name who becomes a legitimate superhero. Ip Man (a stoic Donnie Yen) has fled to Hong Kong in the '50s after the events of 2008's Ip Man, in which he pretty much beat up all of Japan by himself. So now he tries to open a martial arts school, but his reputation is zilch, and nobody knows about his fighting style. He gets a few students, he butts a few heads (most notably rival master Sammo Hung Kam-bo's), and the formula bubbles along nicely.
Then, about 60 minutes in, a thuggish British boxer is introduced, and Ip Man 2 becomes not only a straight-up sports film, but one of the most unapologetic pieces of propaganda since Rocky IV. The fights, overseen by Sammo Hung, are fucking phenomenal, but it's just as entertaining to watch director Wilson Yip take the easy, jingoistic drunk of Stallone's 1985 triumph and transform it into a tall can of Four Loko-fueled whoopass.