Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ip Man 3

Year: 2015
Director: Wilson Yip
Cast: Donnie Yen, Zhang Jin, Lynn Hung, Mike Tyson

Plot: In 1959 Hong Kong, Wing Chun master Ip Man faces a handful of challenges, from a foreign crime lord to a rival Wing Chun martial artist, and an unexpected tragedy.

Review: Donnie Yen teams up with director Wilson Yip once again to bring another chapter of kungfu master Ip Man to the big screen.

In this film, Ip Man (Yen) is living peacefully in Hong Kong with his wife (Lynn Hung) and younger son while his older son studies in Foshan. The local gangsters, led by foreign crime boss Frank (Mike Tyson) want to take over the children's school for the land, and Ip Man volunteers to protect the school when the local police find their hands tied due to corruption. Ip Man also finds a potential friend/rival in the form of Cheung Tin-Chi (Zhang Jin), a rickshaw puller who also happens to be a Wing Chun master. However, none of these prove more challenging to Ip Man than the knowledge that his wife has been diagnosed with cancer.

In the first Ip Man film, the theme was patriotism. The second film was honor and pride for Chinese kungfu. This third film focuses on family. Ip Man's battle with the gangsters turns personal when they threaten his son, and you get to see what the master is willing to do to protect him. Then there is his sick wife, whom Ip Man spends more time with once he learns about her illness, forgoing other matters such as a challenge from Tin-Chi. In fact, Tin-Chi's actions is also motivated by family as he seeks a better life for himself and his son.

Thanks to Yen, Yip and action choreographer Yuen Woo Ping, audiences are treated to a handful of solid action sequences, though to be fair, the one-on-one fights were better filmed than the one-on-many brawls. While most would figure the Yen vs Tyson fight to be the best duel, I felt that it comes a close second to the duel between Yen and Thai exponent Sarut Khanwilai, that takes place within close quarters. Though the Thai fighter is hardly a match for Ip Man, the scene was filmed well. As for the Yen vs Tyson fight, the latter is to be commended for convincingly being a match for the former. As it turns out, Tyson is the only one that truly takes Yen to the limit here.

Acting wise though, Tyson doesn't fare too well, but it is forgivable since he's not an actor per se. Yen once again plays Ip Man solidly, as an honorable man who tries his best to impart good values on others and hopes they follow suit. Lynn Hung plays his wife again, who tries to be a good spouse and support her husband whenever possible. Their relationship becomes the focus of the second half of the film, and it is rather touching to see this side of the master for a change.

However, the film comes up short in certain areas, particularly a proper villain. One could say that the main villain here is Mrs. Ip's disease, and it is one the master can't overcome so easily. Tyson only appears for a short period here, and his character, while essentially a crime boss, proves to be a family man and a man of his word. That leaves Zhang Jin as Yen's main rival, but unfortunately Zhang's acting isn't good enough. Zhang's Tin-Chi is shown as a man not that much different from Ip Man, more like the other side of the same coin. Tin-Chi is also motivated by family, but he wants to win and be the best, forgoing the humble approach Ip Man usually takes. Had Zhang been a better actor, this conflict would have been properly presented, but he isn't, thereby making his final duel with Yen at the end seem anti-climactic.

To be honest, the Ip Man franchise may finally be starting to overstay its welcome, but at the same time I wouldn't mind seeing Yen have another go at it, as long as they give him a formidable opponent. For now, Ip Man 3 is a good way to end things, if it is the end. (7/10)

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