‘Ip Man.'

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In this research paper, the political, historical, and literary aspects of the most well-known action director from Hong Kong's "Ip Man" series will be examined. The television show describes the era and the titular wing of the world-famous kung fu masters. Bruce Lee received martial arts training from Wilson Yip's biography. The employment of postcolonial and nationalist themes to influence the narrative's tenor is widely recognized for the filmmakers (Corrigan & White, 2015). The duology was first installed when the Japanese invaded China during the World War II and the form of interactions that that took place with the Ip Man who was known to be a patriot. British Hong Kong is the place where the second installment of the martial arts took place. The installment in the British Hong Kong brought a great rivalry between the English boxer and the Chinese martial arts squad. The findings in this research paper will evaluate how violence and language function in the tradition of China’s martial arts and the Japanese historical legacies. The concepts used in the framework are the Franz Fanon’s theories of postcolonial violence and the soft power by Joseph Nye. Finally, the paper will conclude that Yip has made an invention in Ip Man and made it an icon that gives Chinese powers nationally and globally in the twenty-first century.

Ip Man 2 and the Soft Power of Kung Fu


Nationalism and soft power roles in the twenty-first century are presented by Wilson Yip, the filmmaker from Hong Kong of the Ip Man series in the field of martial arts. The definition of soft power according to the international relations is that making ends meet is done through enticement and attraction through the diplomatic initiatives. The filmmaker argues that coercion such as economic threats or military threats cannot bring diplomacy to the people. The influence of the social media encompasses soft power (Soft power in china: Public diplomacy through communication. 2016). Soft power has been coined by political scientists such as Joseph Nye during the late twentieth century stating that countries that produce influential entertainment, the most popular, and media content. It can take any form as from journalism, television serials, or cinemas. The factor that makes the information have strong footholds globally is the combination of positive strength from the public opinion from the masses and any form of financial support from corporate bodies in the course of the system of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The rise of the modern martial arts in China has been effectively analyzed through effective focal points. The reshaping of the national identities can be done by the use of soft power currency and the social media. The vehicle to political commentary has been lifted by the cultural cinemas of the stored martial arts that were made during the twenty-first century.

Soft power and the Iconic Ip Man

How can one country gain popularity to the foreigners of a different historical heritage? Based on the research done by scientist Joseph Nye, ‘soft power’ is the way in which one state can gain popularity in the international platform through enticement and attraction (Sun, 2012). Making the country to be known for the media platform can be a great move towards gaining in the sector of international relations. A good reputation or ‘image’ is earned through the marketing process. The use of military or economic strategies can fail to achieve the target expectations by a country at the international level (Barr, 2011). The natural appeal of the Chinese has been deluded by the idea of soft power. Jiang Wang argued and said that the better way of introducing soft power to the world is through the media, which is communication. “China believes it not only has a story to tell to the world, but it is imperative for the country to do so more effectively. It’s a question of their collective identity, prestige and, arguably, China’s face (mianzi) in the increasingly connected global society.” As much as China emphasizes on maintaining its ‘face,' Joseph Nye in his theory of soft power that depends on the image is the better way of implementing a diplomatic strategy.

China is aimed at using the soft power game for imperialism. “The zero-sum nature of face and China’s history of victimization at the hands of the West combine to make many contemporary Chinese view diplomacy as a fierce competition between leaders who win or lose face for the nations they embody,” argued Robert Gries. When an image is considered the base of construction, then the starting point should be the creation of the image to the world. The image is regarded as the icon towards the creation of the face. A massive popular appeal must be commanded to attain the win of soft power currency. The patriotism of the people is a major factor in the creation of the icon of a state (Wang, 2011). However, cultural beliefs and other values should be maintained, that will transform to the patriotism of the people of the country.

The use of Violent language in Ip Man

Cultural legacies are highly reacted upon in Ip Man storyline. Violent language in movies does not only go against the morals but creates pride to the characters. However, the condemnation of the historical values as stipulated by the oppressors. “Violence is a recreating himself.” Violence is described to be a misuse of words in a communication channel. “Violence communicates (Lott, 2004). Through its effects, it informs us of danger, power, weakness, strength. But it is also performative in a sense that is not unrelated to how language itself performs..the passionate, its articulation, can lead to violent acts, especially when the means to voice the passion are thwarted or suppressed.”

The use of martial arts in the Chinese language represents the primary language of the tale. Japan was invaded by the first Ip Man in the installment centers in the early twentieth century. The audience always expects some speech from the speakers during a gathering or the issue of instructions to the crowd. However, when the language turns to be violent, it sends a signal of harshness and anger that is aimed at revenging or attacking. The first fight of the Chinese occurs on the screen before the Japanese appear (Shapiro, 1981). “The colonized man will first manifest this aggressiveness which has been deposited in his bones against his people. During the manifest is the period when the niggers beat each other up, and the police and magistrates do not know which way to turn when faced with the astonishing waves of crime…” before executing any attack to the colonizer, dealing amongst themselves are the first thin to be done.

How the unknown people are treated is depicted in the movie using the outsider. As Ip and the fellow townsmen talk to Jin in the Contonese language, ironically he replies to them in Mandarin. The use of the languages creates some rivalry between the two parties and no one wants to engage in a conversation using an enemy’s mother tongue. Jin utters and says that a ‘Northern fist’ has been put down by a ‘Southern.’ Nonetheless, Jin uses a very strange language, but it is understood by the people. The learning process of martial arts is defined in different ways depending on the reason and area of learning. Also, the grounds for the engagement differ within regions. “There are grounds to which engaging in an Eastern art…is particularly suitable for a pacifist seeking to learn how to fight. The first is that the training aids on the sublimation of aggressive impulsive; the second is that one may become detached, in a particular way, from aggressive impulses altogether.”

After the fights between Jin and Ip, they finally meet at Ip’s house where Jin fights Ip by the use of words. Due to the heat created by the challenge offered by Jin, his possessions are broken by Jin in an accident. The items broken are very expensive, and Ip reacts to attack Jin. All the items broken during the fight will be paid by Jin after the fight is over as he claims. The language Jin uses annoys Ip and makes them not to agree on anything. “Mother says that if you don’t start fighting seriously, everything in the house will break!” Ip uses his wife’s duster to attack Jin, taking the duster to be an improved weapon that van make Jin feel the pain (Hamm, 2005). No matter how people might be relating in good terms, the use of a violent language can spoil everything and create a big mess that can take ages to clear and cause losses. Violence is framed to be a one-dimensional phenomenon where the oppressed from resisting forces to protect their boundaries against the colonizers.


The application of Chinese martial arts is combat in the application of the life experience. In the tome of postcolonial tales, the use of expressions is considered a language of violence. However, Ip is classified as a hero and a champion for the Chinese people. The Chinese canon is the combination of the prevailing and old genes of martial arts that create fiction. The arena of soft power is slowly explored in the film that goes through the nationalist media communication industry and the postcolonial period. The evolution of the martial arts has enabled the reinvention of the modern Chinese needs and created the present culture (Antis, A. J. (2013). No matter the form of training, an individual learns through, the rules of martial must be followed and the reason for learning has to be given before the training many Chinese young people think that martial arts are all the same, not understanding that there are rules and regulations for every level of training. Apart from the rules, there has to be a proper use of language.


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Antis, A. J. (2013). An English translation of the texts of the Takenouchi School of Japanese classical martial arts: A historical, pedagogical, and philosophical study. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press.

Barr, M. (2011). Who's afraid of China?: The challenge of Chinese soft power. London: Zed.

Corrigan, T., & White, P. (2015). The film experience: An introduction.

Hamm, J. C. (2005). Paper Swordsmen: Jin Yong and the Modern Chinese martial arts novel. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.





Lott, M. R. (2004). The American martial arts film. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland.

Shapiro, A. (1981). The language of martial arts. London: W.H. Allen.

Soft power in China: Public Diplomacy through Communication. (2016). Place of publication not identified: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sun, J. (2012). Japan and China as Charm Rivals: Soft power in regional diplomacy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Wang, J. (2011). Soft power in China: Public Diplomacy through Communication. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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April 06, 2023

Learning Economy Asia

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Research Employment Hong Kong

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