Donnie Yen’s “Ip Man 2” has moved the battle arena from Jet Li’s “Fearless”, albeit in a modified form. In the continuation of Ip Man 2 series of martial arts films, Ip Man Yen returned to the role of Wing Chun master Ip Man, known for his role as the mentor of young Bruce Lee. In one of the fight episodes in Ip Man 2, the heroic sifu must prove himself against other Hong Kong kung fu masters, including Master Hung, played by Sammo Hung, and Ip Man faces Hung and several other opponents on a large upside-down table. .
In fact, this is a modified version of the Chinese combat platform, which is known as “Lei Tai”. This platform has been featured in many kung fu films over the years, but it may have become best known in the West in Jet Li’s 2006 film Fearless. Although “Fearless” portrayed Lei Tai in a much more traditional context, the “Ip Man 2” version works the same way.
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As can be seen from several of Jet Li’s fighting scenes in the darker first half of Fearless, when they fight on Lei Tai, the two fighters can achieve victory in various ways, including knocking out their opponent, forcing him to submit, or forcing them off the platform. This latter method of winning makes a ley thai fight very different from a modern boxing ring or MMA cage, where both fighters must be fully aware of their place on the platform all the time. Lei tai stages are still used in modern kung fu sanda fighting to this day, and both Fearless and Ip Man 2 widely use them in different ways.
Fearless and Ip Man 2 use Lei Tai (but in different ways)
In “Fearless”, the use of lei-tai in the film is very straightforward due to the situation of the early 20th century, when most of the lei-tai fights are shown on a platform raised several feet above ground level, and one is several floors. In the appearance of Lei-tai in one of the battle scenes of “Ip Man 2”, his version of lei-tai is much more modified, given the indoor environment and the need to create a combat platform a little more on the fly. However, table fights in Ip Man 2 work the same way as lei-tai fights in Fearless, when two fighters try to push the other away while standing on the table.
Both “Fearless” and “Ip Man 2” are important films in the personal careers of Jet Li and Donnie Yen. Before the release of Fearless, Lee publicly stated that this would be his last epic historical martial arts film (although he continued to shoot action films in modern conditions). Meanwhile, Ip Man 2 marked the on-screen rematch between Yen and Sammo Hung after their first cinematic fight in the 2005 action movie Sha Po Lang (aka Kill Zone).
Thanks to the place that both “Fearless” and “Ip Man 2” occupy in the careers of Lee and Yen, respectively, in the two films, the use of lei-tai platforms for numerous combat scenes gives them an additional historical impetus for martial arts fans. “Ip Man 2,” which takes place decades after “Fearless,” takes a more improvised approach to bringing lei-tai into the action scenes. Even after undergoing such changes, Ip Man 2 has used its adjusted lei-tai platform for several excellent martial arts fights just like Fearless with its classic version.