Being the legendary figure the legendary who trained Bruce Lee, it’s only fitting that Ip Man (aka Yip Man) get a few movies of his own that focus on who he was and what he stood for. Ip Man 3 is one of those films from a popular franchise out of Hong Kong that debuted a few years back. Like the other movies based on his life, this isn’t a completely realistic look at his existence, but that allows the people creating them to be more creative and do things like introduce characters for him to do battle with.
With Donnie Yen returning as the titular character for what looks to be the final time, Ip Man 3 is set in 1959, a turbulent year for the main character. The Wing Chun master spends much of his day training and improving on his craft, but things take a drastic turn for him when a ruthless property developer (Mike Tyson) and his band of gangsters come to town with the hopes of taking it over. This forces Ip Man to fight through all of the existing drama in his life and take a stand against the group determined to control the streets even if they have to use violence and intimidation.
In spite of the main selling point being Ip Man’s face-off with the dangerous businessman, Ip Man 3 is really a bunch of small episodes that tell multiple tales of their own. They also have a couple of stories flowing through them to connect everything that’s taking place. This way, it doesn’t appear to be unorganized as we’re allowed to follow the legendary martial artist in one of the more trying year’s of his life. It also properly makes it feel as if this is about the period of his life rather than one specific subject.
As far as action, there’s an abundance of it throughout the film. Obviously, this will be one of the primary factors in determining if people will choose to watch this at some point, so it’s important to know that they don’t skimp out on it here. Of course, the primary focus of the fighting is Wing Chun. It’s a beautiful martial art to watch as it’s being put to use in a such a productive manner. Since these types of movies usually rely on the more physical styles of fighting, it’s also really easy to see the difference in the various styles in this and other films.
Overall, Ip Man 3 follows the familiar style of many of the martial arts films that have come before it. With the importance of factors like honor, discipline and fighting being the main contributors. It was also nice to see at least some version of Bruce Lee (Danny Chan) being brought into film again. There are a few things included to showcase the relationship between Lee and Ip Man, but I also wish they could have focused on that a bit more. Maybe that will happen in another movie, but it will apparently have to be done in another series of films since this is supposed to be the last of the trilogy starring Yen.
Seeing Bruce Lee being brought to life in this flick is definitely cool for fans such as myself, but one of the other selling points of Ip Man 3 includes the casting of Mike Tyson. While he clearly isn’t the greatest actor in the business, it’s fun watching him be a part of what’s taking place in this film. This is kind of a risk for the movie from an artistic standpoint, but it’s also nice since it’s kind of a reminder that this is entertainment. My only real complaint with him here is that I do wish he was in the film a little bit more since he’s only in a few scenes.
There’s ultimately nothing groundbreaking in Ip Man 3, but it’s a serviceable martial arts film done in a fashion that many have enjoyed for years. That’s usually a bad thing in my eyes, but seeing as how movies of this genre aren’t being released as frequent as they used to be in America, it didn’t really bother me too much. It also helps when I get to see Tyson and a guy play the creator of Jeet Kune Do. While those don’t make this movie great, they certainly add to the entertainment value.
Director: Wilson Yip
Film Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: January 22, 2016 (U.S. Limited)
Distributor: Well Go USA
Country: Hong Kong