BLU-RAY REVIEW: IP MAN 3 (2015)
IP MAN 3 continues the ongoing story of Chinese martial artist and Wing Chun master teacher Ip Man (or Yip Man), most famous for teaching martial arts to the legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. The 3rd film in the trilogy, starring Donnie Yen reprising his role as Ip Man, once again
directed by Wilson Yip (director of all three IP MAN films) as well as Edmond Wong, the writer on all three films. The story of IP MAN 3 continues with the similar premise of Ip Man fighting the good fight, using Wing Chun to fight that fight and uphold the morales integrated into the martial art with intense and intricate action choreography and creative scenes of excellent battles, but just not quite so epic as previous installments.
This time around, Ip Man is caught up in defending his son’s school from a business entrepreneur who would like to buy up a slew of real estate located around his son’s school. A gang of thugs start the usual harassment, eventually turning physical and the need for Ip Man and his students to protect the school and all in it from harm and intimidation. The twist to this film is that Ip Man’s son befriends another student after a schoolyard fight and his father, Cheung Tin-chi (Max Zhang), meets Ip Man after inviting the young boy over for dinner until Tin-chi can pick him up. Tin-chi, a hardworking rickshaw driver also competent in the art of Wing Chun has been earning extra cash in bare-knuckle brawls, is well aware of who Ip Man is, and viewers get a sense of jealousy over Ip Man’s notoriety. The dynamics of the the thugs trying to get the property the school is on, Tin-chi’s character and his resentment for Ip Man’s fame as well as his wealth, and the side-story of Ip Man’s wife Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung) and her role as his wife and her needs, make for a film not entirely focused on good guys vs. bad guys but has more of a familial angle. That is not to say there is not tons of incredible fight choreography and fun Wing Chun battles, but the film does slow down at times to develop the character of Ip Man and his role as a father and also a husband. Hung (portraying character Cheun Wing-sing) has a bigger role in this third film and I felt that she really shines in her scenes and is one of the few female characters within the film with any real amount of screen time.
A unique component to IP MAN 3 is former American heavyweight pro boxer , “Iron” Mike Tyson, cast as the surly businessman Frank. Tyson held the undisputed heavyweight championship and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBA, WBC, and IBF heavyweight titles at 20 years, 4 months, and 22 days old. An impressive feat and I thought also very cool to have him portray the overzealous street fighter with investment interests in real estate, trying to muscle his way into acquiring the school that Ip Man’s son attends. Although Tyson does not have many scenes and dialogue within the film, he does have a very well-choreographed fight scene in which him and Yen go at it: Yen using Wing Chun against Tyson’s American boxing. I can’t say I have seen that many films personally where a very well-known and respected boxer such as Tyson (and one with as much controversy for his outlandish behaviour in and outside of the ring like when Tyson bit the ear of the boxer he was fighting and spit it out) has been included in a film series so well respected overseas as well as in the states for accurately portraying Wing Chun. After all, legendary Woo-ping Yuen is a Chinese martial arts choreographer and film director and one of THE most successful and influential figures in the world of Hong Kong action films. Woo-ping directed Jackie Chan in SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW and DRUNKEN MASTER and turned Chan into a major Hong Kong action film star. Woo-ping went on to work with some of the biggest names in Hong Kong including Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and before the IP MAN film, Donnie Yen. Suffice to say, Woo-ping is the shit in martial arts films!
As cool as the fight choreography was with Tyson battling Yen, I felt that the final battle between Yen and Zhang was the most impressive because the two practitioners of Wing Chun are using a plethora of weapons and styles of the intense martial art and like the previous IP MAN films, there is no super crazy acrobatics and fighters flying all around the screen. The wirework has a time and place in martial arts movies, but that time and place is not in the IP MAN films. I really think that this film stays true to the essence of portraying the martial art in a pure form and representation, providing action as well as the philosophy behind the art. This comes forth effectively when Yen talks with his son about integrity and when and how to use the self-defense towards others. The theme of family is at the forefront of the film along with the various values a father and husband should have and the needs a wife should have met. The film’s theme is the most family-oriented of the previous two entries and director Wilson Yip (who directed all three films and will be directing a fourth with Donnie Yen reprising his role as Ip Man) manages to keep the storyline fresh and interesting as he tells another aspect and side to the principles of wing chun and how good will trump evil. Yen gives another stellar performance and the story explores Ip Man’s relationship with his wife more and how being a family man as well as devoting his life to his passion and love, Wing Chun, is a delicate balance (or should be).
There is an equal amount of fights occurring on the streets with Ip Man and his students defending against hordes of thugs brandishing various weapons. With only one returning character in the 3rd installment, Fatso (Kent Cheng) resumes his role as a police official. Ip Man’s wife, Cheung Wing-sing (Hung), is the only other recurring character from the other 2 films. Cheng portrays the good cop working within a corrupt law enforcement that is heavily influenced by politics and money. Cheng is great as a cop, which he has portrayed before in films. My favorite film of Cheng’s still will be the uber-violent RUN AND KILL starring him, Simon Yam, and Danny Lee. A must-see Category III film! But getting back to IP MAN 3, the always relevant plot of good cops and bad cops fighting within the corrupt system always makes for great conflict and action. Why does this sound so familiar in ANY time period? I guess corruption is everywhere and no period is ever immune to it. As well as Cheng and his character, IP MAN 3 also brings in Master Tin (Ka-Yan Leung), the former teacher of student-turned-thug Ma King-sang (Patrick Tam), who helps Ip Man battle the American real estate developer’s henchmen he hired. Tam’s performance was very credible and he portrays a piece of shit with great panache.
Equally fun to watch was the scene in which Tin-chi goes into the “Martial Arts” cafe, each table a meeting place for the various schools and their students, and calls out the various martial arts masters for one-on-one battle for posterity and exposure to the Wing Chun he believes to be pure and the only definitive version. I mean a Martial Arts film MUST have a social gathering area where all the school’s just hang out so if a bad dude wants to challenge them all he has one-stop shopping with them all gathered in one prime location. I dug the ass-kicking time elapsed montage scenes that build up to the final inevitable battle of wing chun styles between Tin-chi and Ip Man.
The Blu-ray from Well Go USA has a fair amount of extras on the disc including some interviews with star Donnie Yen, fighter-turned-“actor” Mike Tyson, and the director of IP MAN 1-3, Wilson Yip. Let me tell you that Tyson is not the greatest talker in interviews, almost causing me to cringe during some of it. I almost felt awkward myself listening to some of his abrupt answers, even with them being edited in and the questions just subtitled on the screen before being asked. There is a somewhat entertaining “Making of” segment, offering some insight into the creative process behind Yip’s vision, as well as some trailers for upcoming Well Go USA films coming out to home video.
The specs on the blu-ray are as follows:
The film is presented in 1080p high-definition in widescreen (16:9) in stereo and 5.1 HD Surround Sound and dts-HD Master Audio. The features runs about 105 minutes, is rated PG-13 for Martial Arts violence and some language. One can watch the film in the original Cantonese, English, Spanish, or French dubs. It comes subtitled in English, Spanish, and French.