Ip Man 3, directed by Wilson Yip sees the return of Donnie Yen to one of the most legendary roles in martial arts movie history. The movie also features acting performances by Lynn Yung, Jin Zhang, Patrick Tam, Karena Ng, Kai-Chung Cheung, Kent Cheng, and Mike Tyson.
Wing Chun master Ip Man (Yen) has been living a peaceful life with his wife Cheung Wing-sing (Hung) in Hong Kong up until a gang looking to take over more territory begins to encroach on his neighborhood. After Ip Man stops the hostile takeover of a school, a turf war is officially under way and, to complicate matters further, a rival Wing Chun specialist has set out to challenge Ip Man for the title of master. As the world changes around him, Ip Man begins to realize what is really the most important thing in his life.
To be honest, I was a little worried about this film yet remained hopeful. Donnie Yen himself had previously stated that he had no interest in making another Ip Man film because of how over exposed the character had become. Fortunately, he did change his mind and I can't help but think it was due to the fact that the writing team of Lai-yin Leung, Chan Tai-Li, and Edmond Wong had come up with a story worth getting the band back together again. Wilson Yip, who has directed all three films, once again puts together a film that honors its subject appropriately while also adding enough dramatization to make for a very compelling and exciting martial arts feature.
While some of the action is a little repetitive and lacking in innovation, there are two sequences in particular that really stand out and help to make this such an enjoyable movie. One involves an beautifully filmed fight as Ip Man faces the main antagonist and the other involves some very unique choreography in close quarters combat with a Muay Thai fighter while protecting Cheung Wing-sing, his ailing wife. Even with all of this brilliant action going on, the real heart of the story become Ip Man's relationship with his wife, played by the beautifully elegant Lynn Hung, and an interesting turn of events that I won't reveal here.
The one thing that bugged me about this film was why the heck Mike Tyson had anything to do with it. His character is fine, but this man absolutely can not act and he turns what could have been a really compelling fight scene into moments of groaning and pained laughter. Seriously, they could have done so much better with just about anyone else in this role. I suppose his name recognition helped to sell tickets so I'm not going to be too mad at him being in the movie but wow, he was so bad!
If this is the final installment of the Ip Man series created by Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen, then I am very satisfied with it being a very worthy conclusion to the trilogy. The story holds up well against the previous two films and Yen continues to play the character with such poise and grace while also showing off his own impressive martial arts skills. Ip Man 3 has all the action you could ask for in a modern martial arts film while also paying homage to how this type of film was made back in the 70's and 80's and, as a bonus, it packs quite an emotional punch in just the right places. For any fan of the genre, this is a must see.