Even though it is no match to the original, the third & final instalment in Wilson Yip’s Ip Man series brings some welcome improvements over the second chapter, for its action choreography returns to the more grounded state of the first feature yet the movie as a whole fails to offer a compelling story and is muddled with dull subplots.
Set in Hong Kong during the late 1950s, Ip Man 3 follows the legendary Wing Chun grandmaster as his peaceful life is disrupted once again when a group of thugs working for a property developer attempt to acquire the land that belongs to a local school. Meanwhile, another guy with impressive Wing Chun skills quickly rises through the ranks & challenges Ip Man for the title of Grandmaster.
Directed by Wilson Yip, Ip Man 3 does up the action segments without exaggerating it but it fails to duplicate the amazing balance that the original exhibited in all aspects from beginning to end. What’s even more infuriating is that despite being top-billed in promotional materials, Mike Tyson’s character is pretty much sidelined as the plot tries to build up a rivalry between Ip Man & someone nobody gives a damn about.
Another waste of opportunity was the character of Bruce Lee who’s present in the movie for just a couple of scenes & serves only as comic relief. The drama is exaggerating at times, its humour falls flat for the most part, and the finale is quite boring & predictable despite the exhilarating exhibition of martial arts it has in store. The look & feel of the picture in sync with its predecessors but editing & music aspects fail to enhance the experience.
Coming to the performances, Donnie Yen reprises his role of Ip Man for the last time (possibly) but since the writers failed to give him anything new to work with, his performance is more or less the same as before. Zhang Jin delivers the best work, for his character’s arc is fully realised & properly defined. Tyson fails to convince as another character but his stand-off with Ip Man is one highlight for sure. Danny Chan as Bruce Lee is under-utilised while Lynn Hun does fine as Ip Man’s wife.
On an overall scale, Ip Man 3 had all the resources to put up a spectacular action extravaganza but what it packs in the final product is much different from what its trailers promised. While the action choreography is commendable, it unfortunately doesn’t amount to much in the end, for there isn’t anything personal at stake in those sequences. People looking for nothing but simply martial arts action will be enthralled in sufficient doses but other than that, Ip Man 3 is an underwhelming & ineffective conclusion of Wilson Yip’s Ip Man saga.