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Customer Review

63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Gentle Biopic About Yip Man's Twilight Years, Not An Action Extravaganza, September 14, 2013
This review is from: Ip Man: The Final Fight (Amazon Instant Video)
The interest in Ip Man films seems to still be going strong as yet another adaptation looks at the life of legendary martial arts Grandmaster Yip Man. It's starting to get a little confusing, however, with two different series covering similar ground.

First there are the films directed by Wilson Yip and starring Donnie Yen as Yip Man:
1) Ip Man (2008)
2) Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010)
3) Ip Man 3 (proposed): Yet to be made, this effort has been announced in pre-production status with Edmond Wong taking the reins as the writer and director.

And then there are the films by director Herman Yau (of which this is the second):
1) The Legend is Born: Ip Man (2010)
2) Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013)

With "Ip Man: The Final Fight," we examine the twilight years of Yip Man's life. Covering some of the same time period as "Ip Man 2: The Legend of the Grandmaster," the film starts in 1949 as the Grandmaster travels to Hong Kong and leaves his life in Foshan. He sets up a rather humble establishment, teaching students the art of Wing Chun on the rooftop of a local business. His students are a varied lot and include a police man, a prison guard, a union leader, and a waitress among others. The students become very loyal to their teacher and form an extended family of sorts. Through the years, the interpersonal dynamics of the group will change but they are all united under their leader. The film examines these peripheral lives, but also features some family biographical information about Yip Man as well including his wife's last visit to Hong Kong, reuniting with his son later in life, and a late life flirtation with a much younger woman. For the few action sequences, the school battles a rival establishment (which is surprisingly silly) and they must also face down an infamous crime lord.

I'm not sure exactly what type of picture "Ip Man: The Final Fight" wants to be. In many ways, it is a gently nostalgic character piece. While other pictures that have chronicled the life of Yip Man have been more based in action and extravagance (this is even much mellower than Yau's earlier film), this aims to be more biographical. After the initial set-up, the years start gliding by with rapidity. Although I liked the movie, I don't know that it was particularly successful overall. Anthony Wong is convincing and appealing as the aging Yip Man. I, however, was never particularly sold on the supporting cast. We never get to know them with much depth and that is a problem in a movie that seeks to be a character study. There are some nice moments throughout, to be sure, but I never felt very close to the heart of this movie. And when action elements were added in, it occasionally seemed awkward.

Most of the movie showed hints of Wing Chun, but the movie really has only two extended fight sequences. In the first, the school goes to battle with a rival establishment. The confrontation is so corny, though, it might have come out of "Happy Days" with its unconvincing dialogue and tough guy posturing. The battle with the crime lord and his minions is staged better, but still boils down to a simplistic and over-the-top "good versus evil" showdown. What's worse, though, it never really makes sense with the rest of the movie. It's as if the director thought, "I have to give them at least one big action moment" whether it fit into the gentle tone of the movie or not. In the end, "Ip Man: The Final Fight" wants to be too many things to too many people. If it had developed its supporting characters, it might have made a strong drama. As is, it's fine without being particularly distinguished. KGHarris, 9/13.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 24, 2013 4:15:27 PM PST
B. Lee says:
Appreciate the background on the 2 different series by the different directors. Helps fans to understand the differing emphasis of the movies.

Posted on Mar 23, 2014 5:37:51 AM PDT
Senhal says:
Great review that echoes my sentiments exactly. The movie presents a series of vignettes that lack a unifying thread other than the focus on the lives of Ip Man and his students over three decades. The English subtitle, "The Final Fight," is similarly misleading, for though the film does conclude with a fight, nothing seems particularly final about it, nor did the film build up to the confrontation in the way that Donnie Yen's second biopic does. Fans of the genre will appreciate the presence of various known screen fighters, such as Xin Xin Xiong ("Club Foot" in the Once Upon a Time in China films and also the antagonist in Tsui Hark's brilliant "The Blade") and Ken Low Wai-kwong, Jackie Chan's bodyguard (well known for his turn as the final villain in Drunken Master II). The prolific Hark-On Fung even makes a short cameo as a minor antagonist during a chess game early in the film, which means he has roles in both Yip's and Yau's Ip Man films.

Posted on Oct 31, 2014 8:32:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 31, 2014 8:37:02 PM PDT
Beezow says:
Great review, just thought I'd mention Yip Man isn't an alternate spelling or the correct one. Referring to Ip Man as Yip Man, is sort of like referring to George Washington as George Ashington. The confusion is understandable(I was once confused about it too), but if you look at it that way it's kind of a shame.

I only know this, because Ip Man's son Ip Ching himself explains in his biography of Ip Man, that Yip Man isn't correct at all.
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Review Details



K. Harris

Location: StudioCityGuy33 at Yahoo dot com

Top Reviewer Ranking: 41