17th Jun2017

‘Ip Man: The Final Fight’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Anthony Wong, Gillian Chung, Jordan Chan, Eric Tsang, Marvel Chow, Chuchu Zhou, Timmy Hung, Luxia Jiang, Anita Yuen, Hung Yan Yan | Written by Erica Lee | Directed by Herman Yau

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In postwar Hong Kong, Ip Man is reluctantly called into action once more, when what begins as simple challenges from rival kung fu schools, leads to him becoming face to face with the dangerous underworld of the Triads. To defend himself and those he cares about, Ip Man must stand and fight one last time. This masterful biopic proves essential viewing for anyone familiar to the Ip Man saga, encasing sensational action sequences within a compelling drama.

Ip Man: The Final Fight comes from director Herman Yau, who previously helmed Ip Man: The Legend Is Born, the prequel film released inbetween Ip Man 2 and 3. And like Yau’s previous Ip Man movie, this sequel, which follows on from the original trio of Ip Man movies, insomuch as it follows chronologically from them, is fully authorised by Ip Man family and also features his son Ip Chun in a cameo role… And, like previous entries, turns the Wing Chun practioner and teacher into something akin to a living legend – a Wong Fei Hung for the modern generations if you will.

Essentially told in flashback, Ip Man: The Final Fight tells the story of the final chapter of Grandmaster Ip Man’s life, his later years, teaching a small group of students the secrets of Wing Chun, all the while the “real world” creeping in on his traditional lifestyle. As this particular Ip Man is older we get yet another actor in the lead role (what is this now, four different actors?). Ip Man: The Final Fight features Anthony Wong in the lead role, an actor more famously known for Cat III exploitation fare such as Ebola Syndrome and The Untold Story – both of which saw Wong previously work with Yau. Interesting factualt tidbit: A lifelong martial arts practitioner, Wong apparently dedicated himself to this role, spending over a year preparing of Ip Man – and it shows on screen. Wong is already a very commanding precense in films, but throw in the martial arts skills and Wong looks every bit the unstoppable “inhuman” force that the Ip Man legend has become.

Whilst Ip Man: The Final Fight is more a drama about Ip Man’s later life rather than full blown martial arts epic, the film does not spare any expense when it comes to staging the much-needed fight scenes. From the small, perfectly-timed displays of skill we see early on, through Wong’s one-room fight with Eric Tsang’s rival Wing Chun teacher, to the gloriously epic, titular, final fight in which Wong brings ALL his skills to the table in a battle with the gangster Dragon and his crew; Ip Man: The Final Fight is a superb example of just how well modern, “old-school”, martial arts cinema can be.

Where Ip Man: The Final Fight suceeds is in taking actors more known for their acting prowess and teaching them how to fight for the screen, by doing so Herman Yau has crafted a kung-fu film that is both exciting and dramatic – making this one of the most well-rounded of the series. And those closing moments, as Bruce Lee returns to hong Kong to reunite with his sifu and we see Ip man’s final moments, played out by Wong AND in original footage of Ip Man himself? That is how you end a franchise… Ip Man’s tale has been told, let it rest with decency and respect.

**** 4/5

Ip Man: The Final Fight is available on VOD (iTunes, Amazon Video, Gooogle Play, TalkTalk, Microsoft Film & TV, Virgin Movies) and DVD & Blu-ray now, courtesy of Cine Asia.

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