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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | June 3, 2020

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IP Man 3: Donnie Yen's Final Kung Fu Feature

IP Man 3: Donnie Yen’s Final Kung Fu Feature

| On 29, Jan 2016

Kung Fu Legend, Donnie Yen, has appeared in his final film from the ‘Ip Man’ trilogy, after fans were left disappointed from the successful release of ‘Ip Man 2’ in 2008, when Yen informed us it would be his last film of the series. 

The ‘Ip Man’ trilogy is loosely based on the life of the Wing Chun grandmaster, Yip Man, who gave Wing Chun international recognisability. ‘Ip Man 1 & 2′ are centred around Ip’s life in 1930 and 1950 in which he was apart of the Japanese occupation in Foshan and whilst he established himself as a Kung Fu Master, respectively. Set in 1959, ‘Ip Man 3′ pits the main character against American gangster Frank (Mike Tyson) and rival Wing Chun master Cheung Tin-Chi (Zhang Jin).

Review_IP Man3_2

Despite rumours that the film would centre around the personal relationship between Bruce Lee and his master, Edmond Wong’s script steered away from the famous student. This is possibly due to the director’s fear of Lee’s fame detracting from the story of the central character. Though the movie was predictable, it became confusing midway due to the subplots over-shadowing the main plot. This was made worse by misleading advertising in the films trailer. What saved the movie from becoming a generic martial arts film is the interaction between Ip and his wife, Cheung Wing-Sing (Lynn Hung). There is greater character development, therefore, humanising the Kung Fu legend and making him more relatable.

Wilson Yip’s directorial style forces the audience to understand volumes through the exquisite acting of Yen and Hung. He handles the relationship between Ip and Wing-Sing with sensitivity, without manipulating the viewer. Reminiscent of his techniques in ‘Juliet in Love’ (2000), he lets the audience decide whether or not they like the characters. Under his direction, this film gave depth and emotion. Yip is masterful at transitioning talking to fight scenes smoothly. There was no obvious use of CGI or wire use and it was a refreshing return to original Kung Fu films.

Fight choreographer Sammo Hung, Enter the Dragon’ (1973), ‘Ip Man 1 & 2’, was replaced with Yuen Woo-Ping, who worked on ‘The Matrix’ (1999), and ‘Kill Bill’ (2003). Woo-Ping’s fight scenes reiterates that martial arts aren’t about wires and over the top tricks. It’s about form, style and skill. However, Woo-Ping did bring to ‘Ip Man 3′ a Hollywood feel as seen in his previous films which detracts the authenticity which would be found in traditional martial arts films.

What lifts this film from being merely an action movie is the deviation from the previous films’ ethos. There is not one fight-to-the-death scene. Instead ‘Ip Man 3′ promotes the craft of Wing Chun, its history, and purpose for self-defence. It is the finale film of Donnie Yen as a Kung Fu actor, and his début as a true actor.

IP Man 3 is currently Kung Fu fighting at cinemas.

Image credits: Shaw Organisation & Scorpio East Pictures, IP Man 3 – Facebook