There have been a few high profile films about the legendary Ip Man, but none have had the impact of the series starring martial arts superstar Donnie Yen. When the first film premiered in 2008 and took the martial arts fans by storm showcasing the awesome skills of Yen in the iconic role. When the second chapter hit in 2010 it not only featured more of the same insane fight sequences, but also brought in another martial arts icon with Sammo Hung. Fans have been clamoring for Yen and director Wilson Yip to return to the role and originally it was decided not to do so, but thankfully that decision was changed and the latest and likely final chapter Ip Man 3 is here.
Ip Man 3 follows Granmaster Ip Man who is not only forced to take a stand against a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer attempting to take over the city, but also a young master looking to make a name for himself. In the midst of the fight for the city the biggest fight of his life hits home. One of the most hyped aspects of this latest chapter was not only them coming together to bring this chapter but also the inclusion of Mike Tyson. His role is hyped as being pretty big and while he does have a big part it is a bit secondary to the overall film. His acting is hit and miss, but is fun to watch him taking on something he doesn’t usually do and the fight between them is a quick one, but showcases the different styles and lets Tyson unleash his power in Yen. This is just one small part to the rest of the film that takes a bit of a different approach to the series. With the first two films the focus was on the action more than anything else and while that is still very prominent here as well there is more heart and emotional story elements in play. Throughout the series there has been a subtle plot regarding Ip Man’s family, most notably his wife and her frustration of his constant training, teaching and fighting for others at the expense of neglecting her and their children. This time around they put the spotlight directly on her and the new struggle they must deal with together that shows how much more important it is to have each other.
Yen returns to the role like he never left and brings everything he has to the table. We get to see a side of Ip Man that hasn’t been showcased in the films before. The action is as fast paced as ever, but the set up and execution feels like it actually has a purpose as opposed to just people challenging him throughout. He has risen to more of a symbol to the city and struggles to live up to that while still being true to his family. When the focus shifts to the challenge of the masters for the bigger story half of it doesn’t even contain Ip Man, but when he is finally involved he faces off against Cheung Tin-chi played awesomely by Jin Zhang. Their final fight of the film is easily one of the best of the series. It feels like the first fight in the original film that was meant to be a secret fight, but this time it faces off Wing Chun verses Wing Chun. They bring a variety of weapons and hand to hand combat together in a finale that you will not want to miss.
If there is any complaints outside of some of the Tyson scenes it would be a couple of the wire work sequences just didn’t blend all that well. Thankfully the great outweighs the couple of questionable moments making it yet another great entry into the series. This series started out focusing on Ip Man, but by the end of this one becomes a love letter to the most important thing in his life, his wife. This humanizes the character and the sometimes over the top nature of this series to make it something so much better. Some may not like the overall direction this one takes and there were a few that were not as big a fan of the second film, but when you look at this series as more of a complete story instead of individual films it will no doubt go down as a series as iconic as the man it is based on.
Witness the final chapter in the story of the legendary master when Ip Man 3 hits theaters on January 22nd from Well Go USA.