[ONE WEEK ONLY] If the title of this film sounds awfully familiar, it should. The life and times of Ip Man—a kung fu master probably best known as the teacher of Bruce Lee—have proven particularly fertile subject matter for Hong Kong filmmakers in recent years. There was Ip Man in 2008, and its sequel, Ip Man 2, in 2010. Earlier this year, we had The Grandmaster. And now director Herman Yau brings us Ip Man: The Final Fight—his second Ip Man film after 2010's The Legend Is Born: Ip Man. An Ip Man 3—in 3-D!—is anticipated soon. (And for good measure, a TV show about Ip Man, called Ip Man, premiered on Chinese screens this year.) Too much Ip Man? Perhaps, but at least we have a reliable measuring stick against which to rate this latest addition. The Final Fight is outright better than Yau’s first effort and cinematically superior to Ip Man. But it falls short against the other two. Ip Man 2 tackled the same period of Ip Man's life—the 1950s onwards—but did so with a faster pace, better fights and fewer characters. The Grandmaster was simply a stunningly shot film with action sequences that leave all other Ip Man films in their wake. The Final Fight’s greatest strength is as a biopic, rather than as a martial arts flick. It's set against a vivid, gorgeously rendered 1950s Hong Kong, and gives a more grounded account of this period of Ip Man's life—portraying him as a nice but fallible old man teaching some young folks martial arts, rather than as a mystical superhero. It's a perfectly pleasant watch (if you find people getting kicked in the face pleasant; I do), but far from thrilling, and far from the most essential installment in the Ip Man cinematic collection.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
- MPAA Rating: PG-13
- Critic's Score: B-
- Watch the trailer