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January 21, 2016

Ip Man 3


Wilson Yip - 2015
Well Go USA Enterainment

I'm not sure how factual Ip Man 3 is beyond the famed martial arts teacher having a school in Hong Kong, taking a young Bruce Lee as his student, and having his his wife die in 1960. The real Ip Man was born in 1893, and would have been 66 or 67 years old in 1959 through 1960 when the film takes place. The charitable thing here is to think of Ip Man 3 as a fictional film with a couple of factoids as well as a handful of facts tossed in.

That said, the pleasure here is watching Donnie Yen in what he claims to be his final martial arts film. Whether it really is or not remains to be seen. That the film is getting a wider theatrical release in the United States gives the audiences anticipating Rogue One: A Star Wars Story the opportunity to see Donnie Yen doing what he does best on the big screen. Yen, a bit past 50 years old, is still remarkable in his athleticism. There's a kind of grace in Yen's movements that makes me think of Gene Kelly. And Yen is so self-confident that he has no problem seen with the noticeably taller Lynn Hung as his wife. Overlook the gimmick that he's about to fight Mike Tyson. Prior to the fight, Yen takes a position with one leg in a crouching position, with another leg extended forward on the floor, holding that position, staying perfectly still. One of the things I like about Donnie Yen is his ability to convey a sense of concentration, of thinking and anticipating his moves, as well as those of his opponents.

Wilson Yip films the martial arts with relatively lengthy shots with two or more fighters within the shots, giving a sense of how the opponents are interacting with each other, as well as a sense of space within the scene. By lengthy, I'm still talking about seconds, but still long enough for the actors to make to make three or four moves, and give the viewer the chance to see each punch, kick or block. Yip's lengthiest shots are relatively elaborate, with the camera completely overhead and moving following Yen and an opponent fighting through hallways and stairs. One would wish that with some of the dazzling cinematography, that Ip Man 3 could be seen in 3D as in Hong Kong, and in March, in mainland China.

Mike Tyson as a badass gangster might have been somewhat more believable had someone covered that tribal tattoo. Overlooking that anachronism, Tyson is impressive punching a speed bag. Yen also gets into a fight in an elevator with a Thai boxer, played by Sarut Khanwilai. If Sarut looks a lot like the most famous martial arts star from Thailand, that's no coincidence, as he's Tony Jaa's stunt double in the film Skin Trade. As Ip Man's friend and rival, Max Zhang's performance here suggests potential for taking some of the roles that would have previously been considered for Yen or Jet Li. Zhang had previously appeared in the most critically acclaimed film about Ip Man, The Grandmaster, along with action director Yuen Woo-Ping.

ip man 3 poster 1.jpg

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at January 21, 2016 06:01 AM