This action packed movie features memorable fights and with caricatural, almost cartoon like villains. Asides from fights, this movie also features great training scenes where some Wing Chun principles are worked on. While not a documentatry, Warriors 2 is as close to real Wing Chun as far as movie goes.
Characters (with martial arts background)
Also known as Money changer Wah, this character had some training in an unnamed martial art, which proved to be insufficient against a local band of bandits. Being the main protagonist, he is taught the art of Wing Chun throughout the movie.
Fei Chun (Fat Chun), played by Sammo Hung (洪金寶):
Although highly skilled in martial arts, he is often prey to local scammers who take advantage of his naivety to cheat him out of his money. His easy going and carefree nature often turns him into a comedic relief.
Leung Jan played by Bryan Leung Ka-yan (梁家仁):
This movie portrays an older Leung Jan, who is a respected figure in his hometown of Foshan. His reputation righteousness and exceptional martial arts skills make him a threat to anybody with criminal intentions.
Cashier Wah (left) and Fei Chun (right)
Caught overhearing plans from a bandit businessman and his gang to kill the town mayor and to seize control of the town, cashier Wah finds refuge at Leung Jan's home, where he is taught the art of Wing Chun. When his teacher is assassinated, he and his Kung Fu siblings plot to avenge their teacher.
Training (and philosophy) scenes
After Leung Jan accepts cashier Wah as a student, he makes him go through a serie of intricate training exercises, each aimed working a particular aspect of Wing Chun.
Not sure what the lesson is here, but Cashier Wah surely will remember this one...
While teaching the basic techniques to his students, it is interesting to note that Leung Jan also teaches the philosophy behind the exercises and its importance in combat.
The depiction of Wing Chun during the training and philosophy is faithful to the genuine Wing Chun, to a point that some would say that training sequences are part entertainment, part instructional. In fact, footage of these scenes were shown in great length in the documentary: Bruce Lee, the legend.
There are some training aids that are not typically associated to Wing Chun, such is the case with the Mui Fa Jong, or the plum blossom poles. Sammo Hung, director if the movie wanted to faithfully show Wing Chun at its root, so knowing that Wing Chun came from Shaolin and evolved independently thereafter, he integrated the plum blossom poles into the training which were part of the Shaolin curriculum.
Cashier Wah breaking some plum blossom poles.
A wooden dummy hall, usually associated with the Shaolin temple, also makes an apparition as a training tool. The Wing Chun presented in the movie are a closer approximation of the Wing Chun practiced back then than a depiction of Wing Chun practiced in modern times.
While instructing cashier Wah, Leung Jan executes the first and second form of the Wing Chun system: Siu nim tao and Chum Kiu. The wooden dummy form is also shown, but in a very limited way.
Another core exercise of Wing Chun training shown in the movie is the Chi Sao (Sticky hands). As explained by Leung Jan in the movie, reaction time is crucial to effective Wing Chun and one need to develop sensitivity in their hands in order to get the shortest reaction time possible.
Blindfolded Chi Sao also gets some screen time, although the choreography is highly unrealistic for blinded fighters. The scenes serves more as comedic relief than as a representation of Wing Chun’s core training.
A very brief introduction to the basic 108 pressure points of the body, as taught in traditional Chinese medicine, serves as a lesson to Cashier Wah on the body’s most vulnerable points. This scene serves as a setup to the techniques used to defeat one of the bad guys at the end of the movie.
The fights in Warriors 2 aren't just about flexing muscles and executing flashy moves to defeat an opponent. Preparation and proper counter to opponents styles are taken into consideration. Prior to the final fight, the group of protagonist analyze their opponents and devises strategies to counter them. When things don't go their way, they again quicky devise new strategies to dispatch their seemingly stronger opponents.
For the most part, the Wing Chun trained protagonists do use some genuine Wing Chun moves and principles. In the case of Casanova Wong, known for his kicking abilities, his character does mix Wing Chun with flashy high kicks.
When Sammo Hung squares off with two white haired bearded assassins, Sammo gets an opportunity to showcase his incredible mastery of the dual sabre. The flashy sabre movements used during the fight is closer to what you would see in Chinese Opera than in actual martial arts. As such, the fight is a lot more impressive than it is realistic.
Almost like ballet...
Dean Shek, playing the role of a villain henchman, is in the movie as a comic relief. His final fight, where he wears a wacky outfit, is both strange and comical. He acts and fights like a robot or an arthritis ridden old man. This fight contrasts with the other final fights by being purely kung fu comedy, which some may dislike. There are some who believe this movie would have been better off without those Dean Shek’s fights altogether.
Fat Chun against a robot like henchman
If the Wing Chun system is very well showcased in this movie, we cannot say the same for other known styles used by the antagonists. For example, the mantis style used by the end boss incorporates some moves that are fun to watch but unrealistic and almost cartoon-like.
But that doesn’t take away the impressiveness of the choreography of the fight. In fact, the final fight pitting Cashier Wah and Fei Chun against the evil Boss is one of the most inventive and exciting two against one fight to watch.
Cashier Wah prepares a kick while Fat Chun holds the enemy .
One of the interesting aspect of the fight choreography for the final battle is that they use moves and lessons learned during the training segments. Almost everything that is seen during the training scenes can be identified in one or another of the final confrontations.
Leung Jan and his pupil Chan Wah Sun are the only historically traceable people of the movie. The rest of the crew and the events depicted in Warriors 2 are all works of the writers imagination. Chan Wah Sun was one of the 3 teachers Yip Man, the teacher of Bruce Lee, had.
The most important figure missing from the movie is Leung Bik, who is Leung Jan’s real life son and also, a teacher of Yip Man.
This movie is in no way a Bio pic of either Leung Jan or Chan Wah Sun.
Reading that may interest you:
The prodigal son - a Martial Arts Movie review
Ip Man (2008): A wing Chun movie or a movie with Wing Chun?
Operation Scorpio (1991) - a martial arts movie review
What whould Batman or any black belts do when witnessing a fight?
11 steps to deal (and learn) with criticism