The first two Ip Man films were awesome. Period. If you haven’t watched the series, it is loosely based on the man himself, Yip Man, who was a master of Wing Chun kungfu. You will defo know his most famous pupil of all time – Bruce Lee.
Ip Man 1 & 2 had solid storytelling, great fight scenes, good acting… but most of all, the character and story was brought to life by the the endearingly funny but tough family man, Ip Man – played by (still very handsome at 51) Donnie Yen.
So when the third (and purportedly final.. but we never know with franchises these days) film in the series came out recently, the fam and I went to watch it with high hopes.
We were sorely disappointed.
While the fight scenes were still well put together, the story was some BS, as if it was written by an amateur. Disjointed, lacking flow.. and poorly done in general. Some characters appeared, said a few lines, and were not seen for the rest of the movie. Others seem to be there just for the sake of being there, with no bearing to the story.
If Ip Man 3 was an RPG game, the movie can be described as a series of sidequests (ie saving a school, saving kidnapped son, fighting thugs) before culminating in a final showdown with a boss.
(SPOILER ALERT) After watching the trailer, you’d think that Ip Man would have to work his way to fighting big badass boxer Mike Tyson (coz they seemed to emphasise that in the trailer, right?). Apparently not. There is an unexpected ‘boss’ at the ending – and it suddenly became this whole fight for the pride of Wing Chun and whatnot.
(MORE SPOILERS!) In Ip Man 2, the ending scene had a young Bruce Lee and it seemed like the third film would be about the relationship between the movie star and his master before Lee made it big in Hollywood. Ip Man 3 opens with an older Bruce Lee, who tries to impress Ip Man by showing him his moves. But Ip Man’s lukewarm response disappoints him, and he leaves. Yes, he just leaves and we won’t see Bruce Lee until an hour into the film.
And then Ip Man goes to save a school from thugs controlled by Mike Tyson, who wants to buy it over to build some property. Too bad, Ip Man’s son goes to the school…Daddy was having none of it. So the thugs kidnap his son and a couple of other kids, one of whose dad is also a Wing Chun master. The two go to a shipyard and bash like a 100 people up with kungfu. Ip Man then barges through Mike Tyson’s door, they fight, the end. Yes, that was Tyson’s pivotal screen debut, which lasted not more than 20 mins in total.
But wait, there’s more. You thought the film ended?
Remember the other kid’s Wing Chun master dad? Tired of constantly being in Ip Man’s shadow, Cheung Tin Ching goes about beating other kungfu masters and challenges Ip Man to a showdown. Directors decided to throw in some emo-stuff about Ip Man’s wife having incurable cancer. Ip Man learns to dance from Bruce Lee, who appears for another five minutes in the middle of the film, and then is never heard from again. Ip Man goes to fight Cheung for the title of grandmaster. Wins. The end.
Yep. That about sums up the film.
I feel like the directors/script writers cheated the audience by marketing this as some prequel to Bruce Lee’s story and his relationship with Ip Man. The also marketed it like Mike Tyson was gonna be the big villain in the film and there would be this whole training and self-discovery before Ip Man finally defeats him… but it’s not.
I’m gonna call it out for what it is : a scam. A scam to the hearts and minds of Ip Man fans. It left me high and dry.
The only saving grace about this movie is the well choreographed fight scenes. Donnie Yen does his best with some stellar acting and his ‘funny, laidback but wise’ master of kungfu character, but there is only so much an actor can do with a bad script.
Still, if you want to have a laugh, watching Mike Tyson attempt to speak Cantonese is pretty hilarious. That and his B-grade villain worthy bad acting.
Bruce Lee and Yip Man.