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Ip Man 3

Prepare for a mix of cartoonish martial arts and quiet melodrama

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This final chapter of Wilson Yip’s biographical trilogy about renowned Wing Chun martial artist Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a mixed bag. There is an incredibly cheesy plot about a school being menaced by silly-looking gangsters, and this generates a fight scene or two. This drama, set in 1959, is tied into a real-estate deal facilitated by “foreign devils” (this chapter doesn’t have the earlier two’s more explicit critiques of colonial Hong Kong), including a pugilistic character played by Mike Tyson. There’s a third fight-related plot in which Ip Man is challenged by another to decide who is the truest practioner of Wing Chun. A lot of time elapses between the film’s three best face-offs: Yen vs. Tyson; Yen vs. a muay Thai fighter, in an elevator; and Yen vs. his challenger (Jin Zhang), in a gorgeous dance-like battle staged by Yuen Woo-Ping (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Kill Bill). Then there is another, more personal struggle, where Ip Man faces the devastating news that his wife has terminal cancer. This finds him at home, caring for his wife, and some of these scenes are genuinely affecting. Yen plays the melodrama with a quiet dignity, and Yip gives some of these domestic passages the quiet space they need. It’s a bit of an odd fit with some of the more cartoonish action, so viewers should expect to shift gears frequently.


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