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Title: Ip Man 3

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:85

Even though it’s titles “Ip Man 3”, it’s really more like the sixth movie about the venerable instructor to Bruce Lee. After 2008’s “Ip Man” with Donnie Yen and the sequel that occurred a short time later, it was pretty much a guarantee that the martial artist would have more films made about him. With Donnie Yen not really willing to do a third movie in a short space of time, other studios and other directors had a chance to make films about him, including the VERY poor “The Legend is Born: Ip Man” starring Dennis To (a prequel really), and then “Ip Man: The Final Fight”. Even “The Grandmaster” was about his life, but taken in a very different direction than the cheap and cheesy “Final Fight” and “Legend”. However, with the incredible success of Yen and Wilson Yip at the helm, a sequel to the original two films was pretty much inevitable. As is with most “thirds” in a series of movies, “Ip Man 3” is a bit weaker than those that came before it, but is still head and shoulders better than the other movies made about the grandmaster of Wing Chun.

Much of the “Ip Man” series is heavily fictionalized in comparison to his real life, and while there are scraps of reality hidden in the films, there is much more fabrication going on. Ip Man (Donnie Yen) has almost become immortalized and turned into a mixture of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris jokes. Able to stop punches with his mind (almost) and take on 300 bad guys without taking a punch. As much as the historian in me hates the concept of fictionalizing his life, the martial arts action junkie in me says “wheeeee, do it again”! Ironically the thing that made his famous in the public eye is the thing that’s actually never really focused on in the movies. That is, actually training Bruce Lee in the art of Wing Chun. This is hinted about ever so slightly in “Ip Man 3”, as we see two scenes with someone who is OBVIOUSLY Bruce Lee (played by Danny Chan) that come and go so quickly as to be almost missable. The bulk of the story once again pits Ip Man against a host of criminals and scum bags who are on some nefarious mission to turn the city where he is staying into a victim filled morgue where only the incredible martial arts prowess of the grandmaster can save them all.

Living in Hong Kong with his wife, Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung) and his young son, Ip Man has slowly recovered from the depths of poverty that drove him from his home so many years ago. Not as wealthy as he once was, but still able to care for his family, Ip Man has created a seat for himself at the head of the incredibly vast martial arts “table” and has become one of the most respected masters in the city. He is once again put to the test when a foreign gangster by the name of Frank (Mike Tyson) starts putting the squeeze on his son’s elementary school in a land grab of great importance. Refusing to let the school be bullied by thugs, Ip Man offers his services to the school as a guard and effectively beats off the goons. That is until Frank decides to make it very VERY personal by kidnapping a group of children (including Ip Man’s son) and threatens the very ones that he holds dear.

Simultaneously we have a sub plot involving another Wing Chun master who wants to see his name as the official Grandmaster of the style. Dirt poor and desperate to start his own school, Cheung Tin-chi (Max Zhang) works his tail off fighting in one of Frank’s underground fight clubs. After his own child is caught up in Frank’s kidnapping venture, Tin-chi has a bit of a change of heart, but not before challenging Ip Man to duel over the fate of the Wing Chun style. A duel that Ip Man is not so eager to pursue when he finds out his beloved wife has been diagnosed with cancer.

I happen to live in Tucson, Arizona, which just so happens to be a sort of mecca for great martial arts instructors, ranging from Kenpo, to Karate, to Wing Chun. In fact Augustine Fong, one of the successors of Ip Man’s original instruction has made his home here for several decades, and I’ve had the privilege of witnessing his skill more times that I care to admit. So I can verify the effectiveness of the style that Donnie Yen portrays on camera (which of course some old fashioned camera work and exaggeration for good measure). My love of the martial arts has persisted since childhood and drove me to spend over 15 years training in several styles myself and fueled my passion for the portrayal of different styles on film. When I heard about “Ip Man” when it was announced around 2008 I was ECSTATIC to see the film as I was hoping to see a bit of Bruce Lee being trained. Sadly it was more of a prequel and the 2nd film decided to forego the famous film legend’s training as well. Even now, around the time that Ip Man was training Lee, we don’t get to see any of that happen on screen. Originally saddened, I kind of understand why. The likeness and “copyright” of much of Lee’s work is wrapped up in litigation with multiple sources claiming to have rights. That’s really why Bruce shows up for only a few scenes and is never once named in the film, just intimated at. I would love to see his back on screen in the next “Ip Man” film, but I don’t think there’s much of a chance for that now.

“Ip Man 3” is really the weakest of the series, with a sort of split plot that feels out of place. The bits with Mike Tyson are more fan service than anything, but the actual FIGHT between the two men is one of the best of the entire movie. We got to see a boxer vs. Wing Chun in “Ip Man 2”, but this is a much different fight, with Tyson and Yen really going at it with a ferocity that is invigorating. I really questioned Wilson Yip when I heard of Tyson’s casting, as the man’s bizarre lisp and checkered background made question his sanity, but he actually worked well with what he was given. My main disappointment with the film stems from the desire to have some epic “mana e mano” showdown between Ip Man and Cheung Tin-chi. As if Tyson wasn’t enough they had to have one big epic fight near the end, so the conversion of Tin-chi to semi villain felt awkward and almost like there were two movie in one film. It wasn’t enough to really make the movie a BAD movie, but the obvious running out of steam in the plot department showed in comparison to both of the prequels. That being said, what we really came to see is some epic fights, and there is plenty of chop socky goodness to go around.


Rated PG-13 for sequences of martial arts violence and brief strong language

Video :4.5stars:
Shot with Arri Alexa digital cameras and release with a stellar 2.35:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray, “Ip Man 3” looks simply fantastic from beginning to end. You can tell that the film was originally intended for 3D, and actually released so overseas in Asia, as several of the shots definitely have that sort of “pop out” type feel to them (watch the scene with Bruce Lee kicking the water, or some of the punches in the Mike Tyson shindig). However, over here in the states we get the standard 2D release, albeit with a great looking encode. The colors have that sort of grey/blue/brown blend that so many Honk Kong films have, and they are as sharp as the proverbial tack. Saturation is well done and detailing is excellent. You can make out the individual splints on a broken staff, as well as wonderful facial details amongst the actors. There’s some banding in low light environments, but it’s never very obvious unless you really look for it.

Audio :5stars:
This seems to be the first release by Well Go USA to have an object based audio track and certainly a boost in the DTS side of the “war”. Sporting an awesome sounding DTS:X track (with a 7.1 DTS-HD MA core) in Cantonese, “Ip Man 3” blasts the doors down with a sonically impressive experience that blends in incredible surround presence in with a heavy LFE assortment as well as finely nuanced details. Vocals are crisp and clear, with no sounds of distortion or abnormalities and the dynamic range allows for seamless blending in with the rear channels. The surrounds get heavily used, as fists and feet surround the listeners at all time. However, it’s not just fisticuffs that fill out the backs and rear channels, but the hustle and bustle of China as well as individual creaks and grans from small things like a floor moaning under the weight of a character, or sticks cracking upon flesh. LFE is heavy and unrelenting at times, but never overly aggressive or too bloated. All around, an excellent experience.

Extras :2stars:

• Making Of
• Interviews
• Theatrical Trailer
• Teaser
• International Trailer

Overall: :4stars:

The third installment in the famous “Ip Man” series is a bit weaker than the movies that came before it, but still more than enough entertainment is enclosed within to keep action junkies happening. I won’t insult the movie by saying that the plot is just a means of stringing together the fight scenes, but it does lean that direction in comparison to the previous two movies in the franchise. Had they tightened up the school plotline and eliminated Tyson (as much fun as his fight scene was, the movie would have felt a bit more cohesive and focused. Still, if you’re a fan of Donnie Yen and the rest of the movies in the series, it’s a blast to watch and you have to give it up to all the action stars involved in making this. Audio and video are demo worthy, but the limited extras are a disappointment. Recommended for a watch.

Additional Information:

Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Jin Zhang, Mike Tyson
Directed by: Wilson Yip
Written by: Tai-Li, Lai-yin
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: Cantoneses DTS:X (DTS-HD MA 7.1 Core), Engilish DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Well Go USA
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 105 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 19th 2016

Buy Ip Man 3 On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Good Watch

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