Review by Bradley Smith
Go another round in the IP MAN franchise with this latest spinoff installment. In this entry, we find Cheung Tin Chi (Max Zhang reprising his role from IP MAN 3) trying to live a peaceful life free of the martial arts style he once tried to champion. Cheung sets up a grocery shop in Hong Kong with his young son. Naturally, he does not stay on the sidelines for long when corruption, violence, and criminal organizations reveal themselves.
The film has plenty of fight sequences to satisfy martial arts fans. The plot is interesting and slightly more elaborated than the usual fare; it more than serves as a segue from one fight scene to the next. The actors are enjoyable, though since I need the subtitles to understand the plot, I found myself looking down more than I was looking at the actors during the first viewing.
Michelle Yeoh, Dave Bautista, and Tony Jaa all feature in the film. I’m not too familiar with Tony Jaa’s work, to be honest, mostly included him because his name was in the summary I received and he does have an impressive resume on IMDb. I was, however, familiar with and excited to see Yeoh and Bautista being a Star Trek and Marvel/MCU fan. Yeoh plays the leader of a criminal organization. In an oddly familiar twist, she wants to transition the business to legal trades, much to the dismay of her underlings and the local community that shuns attempted charity due to her ill-gotten gains. Bautista is almost the opposite, seemingly innocent at first only to be revealed as a major baddie.
There isn’t much of a prerequisite to this film. While Tin Chi’s motives might be better understood after his previous appearance, I think this film largely works as a standalone action movie. Acclaimed director Yuen Woo-Ping (action choreographer of The Matrix) created a great mix of action, drama, and intrigue.
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