Blu-ray Review: “IP Man: The Final Fight” Should Finish The Series

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Review by James McDonald

In postwar Hong Kong, legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man is reluctantly called into action once more, when what begin as simple challenges from rival kung fu styles soon draw him into the dark and dangerous underworld of the Triads.

“IP Man: The Final Fight” takes place in postwar Hong Kong, where legendary Wing Chun grandmaster, Ip Man, is reluctantly called into action once more. What begins as simple challenges from rival kung fu schools soon finds him drawn him into the dark and dangerous underworld of the Triads. Now, to defend life and honor, he has no choice but to fight – one last time. I grew up in the 70s and 80s watching Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan beat up anybody that got in their way so I have a great love and fondness for martial arts movies in general.

Wing Chun is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defense utilizing both striking and grappling while specializing in real world, close-range combat. Anthony Wong stars as Ip Man in this version and unlike the earlier movies which were essentially action based, this one is more of a historical drama. It begins in 1949 as Ip Man (Anthony Wong) enters Hong Kong from Foshan to inhabit a modest room on the roof of a three-storey shop house. When he accidentally meets martial arts enthusiast Leung Sheung (Timmy Hung), Ip gains a small congregation of blue-collar residents to start a modest Wing Chun school without needing to go against his morals to promote his craft.

Of course, this being an historical narrative, we see Ip Man over the course of many years, from his initial arrival in Hong Kong in 1949 to his death in 1972. There is celebration of life, happiness but also tragic loss and sadness. For me, I thoroughly enjoyed the martial arts fighting and Wong gives an understated but bravura performance. Overall though, it felt too clean, almost like it was an authorized biography. In one scene, we see him violently opposed to opium use when it’s commonly accepted that he was in fact an opium addict himself.

The story is disjointed as we are introduced to a lot of different characters throughout the film with mostly unconnected subplots devoted to several of Ip’s students. At the end of the film, we see him talking to one of his previous students, none other than Bruce Lee himself and it was known that Ip Man’s primary fame came from being Mr. Lee’s master. The look of the film was beautiful and crisp and the music complimented the visuals. There are many different films out there chronicling Ip Man but this one concentrates on his life story, rather than just an accumulation of fights he possessed throughout his life.

In stores November 12th

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James McDonald
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