Ip Man 3 movie full length review - Ip Man 3 is Perfect for Donnie Yen or Martial Arts Fans, Offers Little To Casual Viewers
Martial arts movie superstar Donnie Yen has returned for the third entry in the now famous "Ip Man" film series, loosely based off the life of the titular historical Wing Chun Gung Fu master.
I consider the first "Ip Man" to be one of the finest martial arts films ever made, with Yen partnering with the direction of Wilson Yip (who has also directed Yen in numerous other excellent movies) and a great cast to make a genuinely well crafted story that compliments effective, intricate, and brutal fight scenes.
Flashing forward 7 years after the original, the third film has all of those aspects in the fight scenes, but lacks the heart and storytelling of the first. The second Ip Man film was held back by some very exaggerated wire-work (which was refreshingly largely absent in the first) and a much more over-the-top story, but was still overall coherent.
It's not to say that Ip Man 3 doesn't have some good aspects. The sets and locations of the late 50's Hong Kong it's set in look fantastic, giving some great set pieces to stage the fights around. Again, the choreography is outstanding, with some truly memorable fights, including one scene where Ip Man defeats an attacker all the way from the top to ground floor of a building before the elevator holding his wife lets out. This is just one of many fantastic fight sequences in the movie.
The movie falters in it's confusing storyline, which at times feels like 2 or 3 movies spliced together, with one of the main villains (played awkwardly by an out of place looking face-tattooed Mike Tyson, who speaks bizarre broken Chinese) never getting real consequences for his actions, and with the conclusion of the movie being extremely rushed, the story arc with his sick wife not being given nearly enough time to breathe. The conflicts in the first Ip Man, especially when he takes on the 10 men in the Japanese compound, are much more easily understood, and time was spent on making them matter. This is what the third movie doesn't get. The fighting needs to be surrounded by a well crafted and focused story.
Another huge missed opportunity is the lack of screen time dedicated to Ip Man's most famous disciple: Bruce Lee. Young Bruce Lee appears very briefly in two cameo scenes, and despite being teased with their interaction for two movies (The first Ip Man was marketed as being about "Bruce Lee's teacher" and the second featured Bruce as a very young child at the end), they have virtually no substantial content with Bruce in the movie, not even as a background character. What perplexed me is that they have a student character learning from Ip Man, following him the whole movie, who could've easily been written as Bruce Lee instead. Why would they not capitalize on one of the most interesting parts of Ip Man's legacy? Bruce Lee is arguably still the most well known martial artist of all time, and being featured as a significant character would've risen the profile of the movie, as well as allowed for some fun interactions with his master.
Donnie Yen is once again shines as Ip Man however, and his performance is even more controlled than ever, with even his movements showing the degree of mastery that he has over his art and himself. You truly believe and buy him as the essential martial arts master. Lynn Hung as his wife returns in her tragic role, great as usual, with comedic actor Kent Cheng again doing well as Sargent Po. Newcomer to the Ip Man films Jin Zhang really stands out with brutal and intense fight scenes, unfortunately being overshadowed by the messy plot.
Overall, if you're not a martial arts fan or a Donnie Yen fan, there's very little about Ip Man 3 that will grab you, with the first film being the most accessible and high quality to all audiences, as it is a genuinely well made film, regardless of the martial arts in it or not.
For having little substance outside of it's excellent fight scenes, Ip Man 3 gets a 6 out of 10.