Edit : Ip Ching, Ip Man’s second son and Ip Man Wing Chun Lineage Master (played by actor Jim Liu in the movie) , passed away yesterday, Sunday January 26th 2020 in the morning. All our deepest condolences go to his family and students.
12 years after the first opus which (like it or not) was a huge box office success, the saga is now over. At least the one starring Donnie Yen…
Finally ! We ate Ip Man and Wing Chun for Breakfast, Lunch, Diner and sometimes even Afternoon Tea since 2008, as if there were no other styles in Chinese Martial Arts ! And I’m afraid that’s not over, with potential spin-offs coming up like the (awful) Master Z : Ip Man Legacy.
Hopefully we will now be able to start our diet, and get to eat a new Wushu style or even better : STYLES – Please Wushu movies directors, try to stop thinking selling only pop corn and coke, and get us some more original movies ! Recently, the only one who succeeded (even though still talking about Ip Man), is Wong Kar Wai, with his awesome movie “The Grandmaster”, in which, other styles, not often seen in modern productions, were put in the spotlight like Bagua Zhang, Hong Quan (Hung Gar), Baji Quan, and of course : Xingyi Quan, performed by Zhang Jin, my favourite movie bad-ass since a long time ! By the way Zhang Jin also plays an awesome bad-ass in “SPL 3 – Paradox”, out in 2013, a very good movie as well except not really “wushu style focused” but more “modern cinema fighting.
However let’s get back to our review of Ip Man 4.
So the starting plot is simple, without spoiling anything, Ip Man will head to 70’s San Francisco for different reasons, the main one being finding a school for his son who, let’s be honest, is a total pain, and going through his teenage angst. Ip Man will meet different more or less interesting people in America, building up a quite classical yet interesting story.
Ip Man 4 is not only a fighting movie
The general atmosphere of the movie, including the reconstruction of 70’s San Francisco is quite well directed and pleasant to watch. Ip Man 4 also is quite interesting as it’s not only a film with, not mind-blowing, yet well choreographed fight scenes (Thanks Yuen Woo-Ping). It also deals (slightly) with themes like legacy, racism (on both sides, even though better not be the easily offended kind if you are American), and respect between generations. Tough some scenes are a bit ludicrous, and the cast is uneven, at least the film deals with other subjects than only fighting or revenge. Talking racism, Scott Adkins does a very credible performance of the typical racist jerk and his combat skills are pretty intense, making him a realistic opponent for Donnie Yen.
All in all, Ip Man 4 is not surprising in terms of story or acting but still provides nice fights with very rare CGI (Thank you), even though they won’t be remembered in the wushu fights all-of-fame.
Knowing the current affairs between China, Hong Kong and the US, we can’t help but feeling that the movie is also quite pro-china, which is not surprising knowing the acquaintance between different people of the cast and Beijing, including the producer Raymond Wong, Danny Chan, and Donnie Yen himself. The movie, even though being already a huge box office success (surpassing even Star Wars) in China, is yet boycotted in Hong Kong.
However we are not here to talk politics, so head to the rating !
PS : Let me beg directors once more : Please make other films than Wing Chun and Ip Man please! We had enough.