“Ip Man 3” began its theatrical run in Houston at AMC Studio 30 and AMC Gulf Point starting today.
“Ip Man 3” picks up in in 1959. Ip man’s oldest son has returned to Foshan for his education while Ip Man (Donnie Yen), his wife Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung), and youngest son Ip Ching still reside in Hong Kong where Ip Man continues to teach Wing Chun and promote the benefits of martial arts.
Police aren’t able to keep up with the rapidly rising crime rate in Hong Kong. Ip Ching’s school becomes prime real estate for an American property tycoon named Frank (Mike Tyson). Ma King-sang (Patrick Tam), a local crime syndicate boss who works for Frank, is ordered to take control of the school property in two weeks. Since Ma and his men keep attempting to take the school by force, Ip Man and his disciples have to step in and help when Fatso (Kent Cheng) and his police squad are unable to keep the grounds safe.
Meanwhile, Ip Ching gets in a fight with a boy named Cheung Fung at school. Cheung Fung’s father, Cheung Tin-chi (Zhang Jin), also practices Wing Chun and is hurting to make a name for himself since his rickshaw driving job doesn’t exactly pay the bills. He believes he knows the craft better than Ip Man and is waiting for the right opportunity to showcase his talent.
Donnie Yen has stated that each “Ip Man” film has its own theme; “Ip Man” revolves around survival, “Ip Man 2” details on making a living and adaptation, and “Ip Man 3” concentrates on life itself. This is also the first time we’ve seen Bruce Lee as an adult in the “Ip Man” films. Danny Chan portrays Lee exceptionally and a nod to Lee’s “be like water” philosophy is included in the film.
The biographical martial arts sequel pays particular attention to Ip Man’s wife Cheung Wing-sing and her deteriorating health. Ip Man continues to put everyone else before himself and is overly modest with his abilities, but he illustrates just how important his wife is to him by the end of the film. Donnie Yen gives one of his greatest performances to date. His martial arts are as outstanding as they’ve ever been, but Yen has the opportunity to showcase his emotions this time around and it’s impressive even if it is a bit more subtle than it should be.
The story is solid as it weaves protecting what you believe is right into what matters most to a man. Your accomplishments can only get you so far. At the end of the day, that person by your side who has stuck with you from the beginning is what should come first. Mike Tyson gets a supporting actor credit for five minutes of screen time. His line delivery is as stiff and wooden as the dummy Ip Man practices on, but Mike Tyson has this strong screen presence that makes up for his lacking acting skills and the sheer power he has when he swings a punch is unprecedented.
A few of the action sequences are really top notch. The umbrella fight between Cheung Wing-sing and Tin Ngo-san (Bryan Leung) is highlighted by its harsh use of lighting and tenacious dust particles that only seem to make the sequence more exquisite. The shipyard battle is a lot of fun, but the elevator sequence between Ip Man and the Thai boxer (Sarut Khanwilai) is breathtaking for cramming so much action in such a small space.
The film’s one downfall is that it lacks a villain that is truly diabolical and despicable. Everyone who opposes Ip Man in “Ip Man 3” is too honorable. They know when they’re defeated and they simply give in. There’s no cheating, striking when Ip Man’s back is turned, or dishonesty. Everyone’s word is good in “Ip Man 3” and it softens the blows of the action. Ma King-sang should have been kept around longer. He’s cheap and cowardly, but he at least had the opportunity to act the part. When an underhanded villain pulls one over on the hero and it looks as if he or she is going to be victorious for all of the wrong reasons it makes that heroic victory that much sweeter. It doesn’t really seem like Ip Man is ever truly challenged in “Ip Man 3.” He’s usually just preoccupied for a short period of time, but as soon as his attention shifts to the task at hand then he resolves it almost effortlessly.
Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen have yet again collaborated on a martial arts film that is not only fantastic because of its fast-paced action but also because of its captivating story and superb cast. Donnie Yen continues to showcase why he’s the best action star working today. If this is the last we see of Donnie Yen’s Ip Man, then “Ip Man 3” is a gloriously rewarding way to send off the character.