May 14, 2016
Two big Chinese language films are being shown in local cinemas this week. While "The Mermaid" is being shown in only three theaters, "Ip Man 3" is being shown in a lot more theaters. It really is not any wonder why. This is already the third film of a familiar franchise. The first two films (especially the first one) I would consider to be among the most elegant martial arts films I have ever seen. (My review of "Ip Man 1" is posted HERE. My review of "Ip Man 2" is posted HERE.)
Ip Man tries to live simply in Hong Kong with his wife and young second son. However, their son's school is being threatened by a ruthless gang of bad guys who wanted to gain the school's property for themselves. Ip and his students were asked to serve as security guards to safeguard the school, taking up a lot of his time. Meanwhile, a talented local fighter Cheung Tin-chi challenges Ip to a duel to prove who is the real Wing Chun master. However, because Ip's wife Wing-sing develops a serious health condition, he was forced to reconsider his priorities in life.
This third Ip Man film certainly brings back the fond memories of watching the first Ip Man film that started the ball rolling. It has that gentle family story to counterbalance the bone-crunching action scenes. It also had elements from the second Ip Man film, particularly in that scene where Ip Man had a three-minute intense fight scene with a brutish American real estate developer named Frank, played by boxing champion Mike Tyson.
Instead of Sammo Hung, the fight choreographer this time is Yuen Wo-ping, who regaled us before with those sublime fight scenes in diverse films, from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to "Kill Bill" and "The Matrix," While the fights seemed to be toned down compared to the second film, they do achieve an unprecedented poignant elegance of fluid action.
Donnie Yen seemed to not age a bit since we first saw him in the first Ip Man in 2009. He is still the same neighborly good guy we admired and rooted for to win as he fights for the oppressed underdogs of society. There was really an effortlessness in his fight scenes, so cool yet so powerful. Lynn Hung is as elegant as ever as Ip's wife and mother of his two boys. She was the emotional core of this film and we suffer along with her. Zhang Jin was also very good as the noble fighter Cheung Tin-chi, who got swallowed by his pride. He also had that calm demeanor of fighting like Yen, though he got to do more violent bone-breaking moves with the bad guys. His final showdown with Yen was a fight in manifest grace.
Still under the skillful direction of Wilson Yip, "Ip Man 3" captures the best of the first two Ip Man films and adds a distinct character of its own. Unlike the first two films, this third film is more personal than patriotic. It also employed a number of artistic references to nature. This final episode is an invigorating yet emotional end to the Ip Man trilogy. Frankly though, I still want to see more of him in the future. Since his appearance here is like a cameo, maybe there could be another sequel with more of Bruce Lee? 9/10.