There is one point in the martial arts movie Ip Man in which an angry and combative opponent mocks the titular hero for practicing a style of martial arts called the Wing Chun Fist that was originally invented by a woman. I wonder if the character knew the rest of the story. There have been various tales and legends debated over the years about the origin of the Wing Chun but the most widely told and accepted states that a woman named Yim Wing Chun invented it as a response to a man who tried to force her into marriage. He challenged that he would accept her refusal to marry him if she could beat him. She quickly went to a Buddhist nun, learned to fight and invented her own boxing style to defeat the coercive man.
The title character, Grandmaster Ip Man, before becoming one of the most prominent proponents of Wing Chun as well as the famed teacher of the late Bruce Lee, faced an even greater conflict and threat of subjugation in the Sino-Japanese War of 1937 and Wilson Yip's fictionalized account of his life is a worthy addition to the old wushu epics based on a real-life Chinese hero that crosses biography with a bit of lionized folklore. That trend seemed to have diminished in the face of overdone stylizations of martial arts such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers (both directed by Zhang Yimou). But I, for one, have always preferred the more traditional genre films that just let the martial arts form speak for itself such as the Once Upon a Time in China films and the recent Fearless, and Ip Man is one of the most rousing to come along in a while.
Like the hero in Jet Li's Fearless, Ip Man (Donnie Yen, in a career highlight performance) is already a proficient and virtually unbeatable martial artist, although he does not display the boastful arrogance in the beginning that propelled Huo from Fearless to seek out fights to test his might. The fights rather come to him as, in the opening scenes, masters from other martial arts schools constantly come to challenge him as he is rumored to be the best martial artist of Foshan, a town that has a historical reputation for breeding highly trained wushu experts. Although he himself deliberately chooses not to open a martial arts school despite the urging of his businessman friend, Zhou Qing Quan (Simon Yam) to take his son as a disciple, the repeated challenges that come to Ip's door annoy his wife (Lynn Xiong) who thinks he is too carried away with his fighting and training to pay attention to his family.