At one level, the Ip Man series is a beautifully choreographed and filmed set of martial arts movies. It takes as its story the life of Ip Man / Yip Man, a legendary teacher who trained Bruce Lee.
Over the course of three movies, Ip Man survives the Japanese invasion of China, establishes himself in Hong Kong, and deals with the threats to his martial arts school in Hong Kong.
But even as someone without a deep understanding of contemporary Chinese cinema, it was interesting to see the nationalism expressed through a re-appropriation of different points in history.
There’s at least one source to suggest that Ip Man went to Hong Kong as a result of the communist take over in China. That’s gently glossed over in the movies, however. In the recreated narrative, Ip Man’s struggles are always against foreign oppressors. Japanese invaders, corrupt British cops in Hong Kong, and finally Mike Tyson all serve as stand-ins for the oppression of China by foreign powers. Ip Man’s flying fists defeat them all.