Director Wilson Yip and action star Donnie Yen return for the latest installment of the film franchise that made the Wing Chun martial art more popular than ever.
After a 5 year hiatus and a slew of Ip Man/Wing Chun movies, the Ip Man film franchise returns to prove that it is the OG of Wing Chun movies. The tandem of director Wilson Yip and actor/martial artist Donnie Yen has never failed when it comes to delivering well-executed action films*, so the 3rd Ip Man film should be a treat.
Set a decade after the last film, Ip Man (Yen), his wife Cheung Wing-Sing (Lynn Hung), and his second son Ip Ching now reside in Hong Kong, where Ip teaches publicly. Problems arise when a land grabbing foreigner named Frank (Mike Tyson) attempts to buy a local school for his illegal business. Unluckily for him, Ip Man’s son studies there. Furthermore, to make the plot convenient, a fellow Wing Chun master, Cheung Tin-chi (Zhang Jin), has a son there, too. Things turn 180º, however, as Cheung is revealed to be determined to be the face of Wing Chun, and challenging Ip Man is the only way to find out who possesses true Wing Chun.
Donnie Yen has done wonders when it comes to the martial arts sub-genre of action. He has proven himself multiple times in films like Sha Po Lang, Flashpoint, and Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. His performance in the Ip Man films, however, has given him a legacy similar to that of Jackie Chan in his Drunken Master films. Yen delivers heart-pounding action sequences with such intense grace that one can only consider it as art. Indeed, he is one of the greats in action choreography.**
The two antagonists prove enough to give the over powered Ip Man to step up his game. Mike Tyson did the best of what was given to him. The fight scene between him and Yen pretty much summarizes the philosophies between Western and Eastern style of fighting. Meanwhile, Zhang Jin gives us a darker side to Wing Chun. His brutal kicks and painful punches makes us forget about his poor character development.
Where the film excels in action choreography, it lacks in story and character development. The “corrupt foreigners” sub-plot was introduced (and marketed) as the main focus of the film, but it just ended and was never resolved in a satisfying way. The motivations and the sudden changing of sides of Cheung was not explored enough. Even Bruce Lee (Danny Chan) is heavily marketed, but he only appears in two scenes.
Despite its technical flaws, Ip Man 3 is a good addition to Donnie Yen’s Ip Man film franchise because of its amazing fight choreography, which…to be honest…is the main reason why people watch this. For this reason, this film is…