Starring Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Xin Xin Xiong, Marvel Chow, Ip Chun, Fung Hak On, Ken Lo
Fight Choreography by Chi Li Chung and Lam Sin Kwok
Directed by Herman Yau
Ip Man first became famous with the original Ip Man film starring Donnie Yen, which started a herd of Ip Man wannabe’s, or so I thought. Even though the series is known for Donnie Yen, curiously enough two unaffiliated films serve to bookend Donnie’s films quite nicely. The first could serve as the prequel, Ip Man: The Legend is Born, with an excellent performance by Dennis To, and this film, as Anthony Wong plays an aging Ip Man.
The film is narrated largely by Ip Chun, who chronicles his father’s stay in Hong Kong while Mrs. Man stays in Foushan, there to look out for their other child in college. While staying with his son, Ip Man starts his kung-fu school, and this story takes place long after Bruce Lee had left him to become a star. Ip Man’s students are a good group, but there is one, a policeman, Wang Dong (Chow) who is taking mob money in order to move up the ranks of the police, but he always respects Master Ip Man, but you know it has to come to a head sooner or later. One evening Ip Man’s students get into a scrap with a rival school led by Master Ng (Eric Tsang) who later befriends Ip Man after a war of politely written words turns into a great martial arts fight. Meanwhile, a young singer becomes infatuated with Ip Man even as he pines to see his wife again, separated by laws the restrict border crossing. Life moves on for Ip Man and his students as the decades pass, but a threat in the form of Dragon, a martial arts master turned mobster, causes Ip Man to fight once more, for the final time, in order to save one of his students…
Wow. For a film that isn’t affiliated with the Donnie Yen series you wouldn’t know it. The quality is high, and Herman Yau does a fantastic job directing this feature. Anthony Wong is nothing short of a firecracker of a revelation as Ip Man, tortured by the loss of his wife, but motivated to teach others Wing Chun. I honestly must say that Donnie Yen couldn’t have played this version of Ip Man. Anthony Wong brings a world weary yet regal bearing to the role, and owns it the moment you see him onscreen. His performance is nuanced, full of little tics that reveal what he’s really thinking rather than what he says. Xin Xin Xiong is great as always, able to play heroes and villains with equal measure, and he makes a good foil for Ip Man here.The real treat here is Eric Tsang, veteran of many, many comedies and to see him play a kung-fu master here, and to do so believably, just blew my mind. I didn’t know Eric had it in him, but man did he ever bring the goods here. He has really great chemistry with Anthony Wong in both their fight and their friendship. All of the other actors do a great job as well.
The fights here are about as good as any you’ll see in a Donnie Yen Ip Man, and considering that Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang know either very little to no martial arts, both men were incredibly convincing. Anthony Wong fought just like Donnie Yen, with many similar movements (yes, it’s the same fighting style, but I mean something in the body language of both men are similar) and his fights with Eric Tsang (!) and Xin Xin Xiong were standout in this film, as were all of the other small skirmishes. The Lion Dance scenes were great, as was the fight afterward. It was also good to see Fung Hak On and Ken Lo get their fights in as well. The fight choreography was spot on and great.
Quality is rampant across this film, and I can’t recommend it enough!
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9.5
A great film that features Anthony Wong in one of his best roles ever, bringing the story of Ip Man to a satisfying close, with terrific action, humor and drama that culminates in a final fight worthy of the legend of Ip Man.
Ip Man: The Final Fight is out NOW on Blu-Ray and DVD from the good folks at WellGo USA!