Fantasia Film Review: Ip Man: The Final Fight

(Source: Emperor Motion Pictures / Well Go USA)

(Source: Emperor Motion Pictures / Well Go USA)

Ip Man: The Final Fight is the final chapter to the biographical martial arts franchise that started with Ip Man, Ip Man 2 and Ip Man – The Legend Is Born.

Anthony Wong plays the iconic Wing Chun grandmaster in his elder years. His performance both as an actor and as martial artist makes the storyline entertaining for the most part. In this film, Ip Man has left Foshan to seek a new life in Hong Kong. He meets Leung Seung (Tommy Hung) who insists he shows him his craft. After eating first, Ip Man stands on a newspaper and tells him he will win if he knocks him over.

The movie has a sparse but strong collection of action scenes. It’s focus is dispersed between showing us the life in the 50’s and 60’s in colonial Hong Kong and Ip Man’s life. Initially we are introduced to a diverse group of students who gather on the rooftop where Ip Man lives.

Most of the students are part of the hotel staff association, which uses the same rooftop for gathering. They are happy to receive Wing Sing in an altogether brief visit from Foshan. When she leaves to go back, the narration tells us they will never see each other again.

Director Herman Yau has given us a movie that tries to be many things, and at sometimes it’s a stretched a little thin. The balance of the everyday life combined with occasional martial arts display gives it an epic feel. The rivalry with the White Crane school which laters turn into an amicable fight between Ip Man and Ng Chun (Eric Tsang) ends up in a civilized draw and a friendship. Instead the struggles of the workers against their bosses that ends up in a strike seems to go nowhere after the first clash.

There’s a subplot that follows one of Ip Man’s students, cop Tang Sing (Jordan Chan), as he seems to accept the corruption surrounding him but strangely enough maintains a level of respect for Ip Man and Wing Chun as a martial art. Although he eventually becomes the local police chief thanks to mobster Dragon (Hung Yan-yan). He’s quick to turn back to honesty when the fight becomes dirty.

It is an enjoyable last movie for the Ip Man franchise, but I just felt the overabundance of characters left some threads unfinished. The story of the romance that never seems to bloom with songstress Jenny (Zhou Chuchu) stops after Ip Man learns of his wife’s death. Then we don’t get to see her until briefly close to the end. The short meeting with Bruce Lee is a bit anti-climatic, perhaps on purpose.

Recommended if you have watched the other movies of the Ip Man franchise. It can stand on its own, but the end is a bit drawn out. Avid Kung Fu enthusiasts might be looking for a more action-driven plot.

That will do for now.

Coming up:

(Sources: 2013 Fantasia Film Festival, Wikipedia, Variety)

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