"Ip Man 3"
Release Date: Jan. 22, 2016
Running Time: 110 minutes
Donnie Yen’s Ip Man trilogy comes to a close with a punch that’s below the martial arts franchise’s weight. Yen once portrays the real-life Wing Chun grandmaster with dignity and serenity. As with its superior predecessors, though, it’s unclear when and where Ip Man 3 abandons historical facts—if at all—to further mythologize its beloved subject as a prototypical superhero. If Master Ip really saved a Hong Kong school from a land grab attempted by a ruthless American property developer in the late 1950s or early 1960s, director Wilson Yip chronicles this noble act with all the grace and subtly of a Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle. If this is a work of pure fiction, Yip and screenwriter Edward Wong have concocted an overly familiar story that even Van Damme would dismiss as tired and clichéd. Master Ip’s teachings and traditional values, which informed the events of the first two films, are pushed aside in favor of Yen applying his remarkable fighting skills against opponents both worthy and unworthy under the breathtaking martial arts choreography of Yuen Woo Ping. Yen also gets to go one-on-one with Mike Tyson, whose stunt casting as the villainous property developer is never fully exploited by Yip. Tyson may have been a madman in the ring. But he’s not an intimating screen presence in a throwaway role that would have been perfect for and played with the appropriate intensity by the dearly departed Michael Clarke Duncan. Still, the three-minute fight between the nimble Yen and the potent Tyson is a highlight of Ip Man 3, even if its ends with an unsatisfying decision. This confrontation comes early in Ip Man 3’s second hour, allowing Yip to turn his attention to greater matters on Master Ip’s mind: his dying wife and an upstart martial arts master who wants to prove his Wing Chun is better than Master Ip’s Wing Chun. Ip Man 3 benefits by raising the personal stakes for Master Ip and creating a conflict that finds struggling him to be both a husband who can care for his wife (Lynn Hung) and a martial arts master (Zhang Jin) in need of defending his honor. As a husband, Master Ip seeks out the assistance of his pupil Bruce Lee (Danny Chan) to fulfill one of his wife’s dying requests. Ip Man 2 ended on a note that suggested Ip Man 3 would delve deep into the relationship between Master Ip and Bruce Lee to wrap up the franchise in fitting fashion. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and Ip Man 3 suffers as a result. Ip Man 3 offers no new insights into Master Ip, making it a superfluous sequel that’s content to rest on its laurels.
Aired: Jan. 21, 2016
Web site: http://www.wellgousa.com/theatrical/ipman3