Ip Man 3
Director: Wilson Yip
Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Jin Zhang, and Mike Tyson
Well Go USA
The concluding third installment of the popular “Ip Man” series hits theaters with the impressive Donnie Yen again playing the title character. If you aren’t sold on the presence and prowess of Mr. Yen may I suggest that you remedy this immediately by watching “Iron Monkey”, the 1993 martial-arts masterwork that featured fight choreography from famed stunt coordinator and director Yuen Woo-Ping. “Ip Man 3” again displays the wonderful, at times beautiful, fight compositions but also adds a touching love story amidst all the flying fists…oh, did I fail to mention that Mike Tyson is in this film too.
Master Ip (Donnie Yen) is in China circa 1959. Living a low-key life with his wife (Lynn Hung) and young son, Master Ip is respected amongst the community and rightfully recognized as one of the Masters of Wing Chun kung fu. The school that his son attends is targeted by a foreign gangster (Mike Tyson); Master Ip is forced into action to protect the community. However, this isn’t the only foe, a local martial arts rival (Jin Zhang) has plans to challenge Ip Man for the title of Wing Chun Master.
“Ip Man” is based on the real life Chinese master teacher, who famously taught the legendary Bruce Lee. This meeting between the master and the student is the introduction for the film. It’s a reunion, glimpsed briefly at the end of the second film, which fans of the franchise have been waiting for and it’s every bit as charming and entertaining as it should be. That’s one of the prevailing qualities of “Ip Man 3”, the charm that it fully understands and utilizes to heighten moments for the greatest possible impact. The audience knows that they are watching an action movie, it’s not a secret that Mike Tyson is in the film or that the Bruce Lee character would have a more substantial introduction, but the encounters with these characters are still thrilling to watch because they are composed in the same way a promoter would hype a title fight. Yes, even the meeting with Mike Tyson playing a ruthless gangster named Frank.
I have to admit that I was tentative about Mike Tyson being in the film. And in the first scene with Mr. Tyson my worries were confirmed with poor acting, lousy dialog, and a terrible mishmash of languages. But as the film moved forward and Mr. Tyson stopped talking, filmmaker Wilson Yip composed moments that placed the former heavy weight boxer in an intimidating light by putting him into full-on boxing mode, shadow boxing and speed bag training to assist. When Master Ip confronts him, the setting has been threateningly established.
This fight scene isn’t even the best one in the film. Yuen Woo-Ping composes some impressive moments throughout, however it’s not only the fight scenes that are a highlight here. The story of Master Ip and his wife is touching, bringing a surprising emotional aspect that was missing from the previous films. Mr. Yen’s calm and purposeful character composition assists greatly during these quiet, tender moments.
This isn’t the last film to portray the legendary Master Ip but it’s supposedly the final one for Donnie Yen, and it’s in this performance that Mr. Yen is firmly established as a martial arts superstar but also a wholly capable dramatic actor. “Ip Man 3” is a fitting conclusion to this franchise, going out with a fury of punches both physical and emotional.
3.50 out of 5.00