Tag Archives: Wilson Yip

Ip Man 3 (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Wilson Yip
Writers: Tai-lee Chan (as Tai-Li Chan),  Lai-yin Leung
Stars: Donnie Yen,  Lynn Hung,  Jin Zhang, Mike Tyson

The third instalment of the legend that is “Ip Man” continues after two rather successful movies. This time “Ip Man” is forced to take a stand against a brutal gang led by a crooked property developer named “Frank” (Mike Tyson) who plan to take over the local school.

Donnie Yen makes glorious return as Ip Man, and again doesn’t disappoint. If the first movie dealt with honour and the second movie dealt with acceptance, the third one really delves deep into the meaning of life and is possibly the most emotional storyline of the saga. Donnie Yen by now is such a charismatic actor and elegant fighter you know you are going to be entertained regardless.

In my previous reviews I probably nit picked at certain elements of the previous two instalments, but one thing always kept me watching and that was Donnie Yen. He really was cast so well for the role of Ip Man and especially because he is capable of combining acting and martial arts with grace.

Similar to the previous two instalments “Ip Man 3” is loaded with great martial arts sequences throughout the duration of the movie and in particular the martial arts fighting sequences were done with great care and attention to detail. It was elegant and visually impressive to look at and in particular the fighting scenes with Iron Mike Tyson. These scenes were beautifully choreographed and equally so executed by the actors on the screen.

As always the supporting cast around Donnie Yen was and is a bit ropey with some stand out performances and the occasional duff line or six with “actors” who are clearly more comfortable with their fighting sequences than their dialogue. Unfortunately one of those is the main villain in the movie “Frank” played by Mike Tyson making his first appearance as an action star.

As previously mentioned his fighting skills and scenes with Donnie Yen are some of the best moments in the trilogy but it’s the dialogue, acting and delivery that lets Tyson down as he confusingly floats between English and Cantonese in his lines unconvincingly. Again I’m nitpicking and I should really just see this as an oversight.

It was also a nice to see this series hint at one of Ip Man’s most famous students Bruce Lee. Like previously they hinted with a pre credit scene in the second instalment a young Bruce Lee making an appearance in the movie with Donnie Yen’s character saying come back to me when you are older. Ip Man 3 jumps right into this by the third instalment and now a much older Lee appears at his door to learn Wing Chun. Check out the cigarette scene on You Tube to whet your appetite. Actor Kwok-Kwan Chan did a decent job, although the portrayal of Lee is more a caricature version, but it fun nonetheless.

“Ip Man 3” movie is a definite must watch movie if you enjoy the previous two instalments and enjoy martial arts in general on the big screen. This movie delves into the emotional side of Ip Man and his family and there is truly some heartbreaking scenes throughout. Having now completed a trilogy of reviews on the Ip Man series I am now looking forward to the fourth instalment next year in which will mark a decade since the original. I think it benefits watching the current three back to back and although filmed in 2008, 2010 and 2015, they are seamless in their continuation and storytelling flow. I highly recommend everyone should watch “Ip Man 3”

Ip Man 2 (2010) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Wilson Yip
Writers: Tai-lee Chan (as Tai-Li Chan),  Hiu-Yan Choi
Stars: Donnie Yen,  Xiaoming Huang,  Sammo Kam-Bo Hung

Ip Man 2 follows on from where the original movie left us with Ip Man and his family’s migration to Hong Kong. We follow Ip Man now to opening his own new academy to teach Wing Chun on the rooftop of his friend and the news editor’s (Pierre Ngo) apartment. Business is difficult for Ip Man in a strange city where without his reputation he had in Foshan is struggling to find new disciples to his teachings until a young man named Wong Leung (Huang Xiaoming) who says he will only pay for lessons if Ip Man can defeat him. Unsurprisingly Ip Man defeats the young man who runs away embarrassed (without paying) but returns a short time afterwards with several friends who try and team up to defeat the master unsuccessfully. The young men realise that Ip Man is the real deal and ask for him to become their master.

Ip Man’s reputation in his new city begins to spread and his class grows. Things begin to look up for Ip Man until Leung is kidnapped and held to ransom by the students of a rival school. Again Ip Man must once again prove his worth, by freeing Leung and beating the rival students. This appears to be the theme throughout the second instalment of the Wing Chun Master’s story as time and time again the scenario is a challenge to over come that results in another challenge related to the previous (and there’s more to come)

By rescuing Leung it brings Ip Man to the attention of master Hung Chun-Nam (Sammo Hung), who runs the local martial arts schools. Ip Man is told he can only continue to teach Wing Chun if he completes the tests against the other masters and yet again, Ip Man has no choice but to show what he is capable of and defeats several masters and matches Hung in a one-on-one.

This scene is probably my best moment in the movie as the fighting sequences are flawless and in some cases very imaginative as the challenge set for Ip Man is to fight these masters on a table without being knocked off. Sammo Hung as Hung Chun-Nam is expectedly impressive in these scenes as he appears a lot older and heavier than Ip Man. But I suppose that is the point of his style of martial arts. Unassuming and effective as he matches the master of Wing Chun.

The first half of Ip Man 2 is largely based on him being accepted by students and masters alike. The second half of the movie shifts towards the main villains of the storyline in the occupational British (under the commonwealth) who to me are more portrayed as pantomime villains rather than as menacing as the Japanese were in the original movie. Besides the over elaborated bad accents the acting at time from the British contingent was questionable and unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong this is minor details in almost a very good film and although noticeable it isn’t distracting.

I was also delighted to see Siu-Wong Fan reprise his role as Jin from the first film and it was equally surprising to see his character as a reformed man who gets to portray a good guy in this sequel who appears to have accepted Ip Man as a superior martial artist. Disappointingly Siu-Wong Fan isn’t in the movie for long and serves his purpose to the story. I felt he should have been in the movie a little longer than he appears.

Ip Man 2 isn’t as good as the original but to be fair still is a solid martial arts movie with great fighting sequences. The finale though reminds me of Rocky IV in the character of Ip Man being perceived by a very hostile crowd and how his skill, honour and dignity wins the day and turns the minds of a very hostile British crowd into admirers of the master of Wing Chun.

I recommend that if you are watching this movie as a fan of martial arts then it will be a very enjoyable movie. Also watch out for a brief cameo at the very end that is cleverly inserted to give you an appetite for the 3rd instalment of the Ip Man series. Highly recommendable.

Ip Man (2008) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Wilson Yip
Writers: Edmond Wong (screenplay),  Tai-lee Chan (as Tai-Li Chan)
Stars: Donnie Yen,  Simon Yam,  Siu-Wong Fan

When this movie came out almost 10 years ago it had been a while since I sat down and enjoyed a quality martial arts movie. For the previous 10 years I had experienced the beautifully shot “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and the “House of the Flying Daggers” much in the same fashion as the previous. I began to get bored of the genre now relying and going back to wire worked fighting sequences that had been long abandoned when Bruce Lee’s “The Big Boss” was released to the world in an explosion of no nonsense fighting and straight to the point combat sequences.

I was aware of the role Ip Man played in Bruce’s development as a world class martial artist but forgive me for leaving this movie until now to analyse and review. I will be reviewing the trilogy and breaking down what I experienced as a movie goer and with the forth instalment hitting the big screen in 2018 I felt it was time to “Movie Burn” this film.

Ip Man is one of the first Wing Chun martial artists credited to have introduced its rising popularity and is portrayed brilliantly in 1930’s Foshan, China,

Foshan is a busy and bustling city where many martial arts schools have set up shop to fuel the craze of kung fu training. Every new school will visit Ip Man (Donnie Yen) for a duel challenge as a mark of respect and is always hosted behind closed doors away from public eye so as not to disrespect or damage the opponents reputation.

It is here we learn of Ip Man’s Respect and humility for others and his style is never violent or aggressive, which often gets assumed and mistaken for being weak and passive. I have to admit although the opening 20-30 minutes of the movie was our introduction to the characters and development of what life was like in Foshan 1937 I did think it was light and not having too much of an element of danger.

The mood certainly changes as the story moves on with the invasion of the Japanese who have seized Fo Shan and a darker tone comes down on the movie like a dark veil. Ip Man’s struggles to make ends meet for his family in a terrible time of adversity. It is at this point we see the true character of Ip Man, who is highly respected throughout Foshan. This is obvious amongt his friends in Chow Ching Chuen (Simon Yam), his son Chow Kong Yiu (Calvin Cheng) and Crazy Lam (Xing Yu).

With supplies in his homestead running out for his Wife and Young Son, Ip Man manages to find employment in manual labour and has to abandon his practice of Wing Chun for a more practical lifestyle of survival. The work force are generally made up of martial arts masters who are offered rice to compete in fights against the Japanese military figures. This is where I felt the movie is becoming darker and more sinister as the Japanese are portrayed as controlling and use this platform to embarrass, brag and humiliate the Chinese community at every opportunity in believing their Martial Arts are far superior and more advanced than their enemies.

After discovering his friend who volunteered the day before doesn’t return to work, Ip Man discovers the volunteers are being beaten to death by the military and this is where the action begins to pick up with Ip Man demanding to enter this almost “rigged” competition and reign fire on everyone who stands in his way. This segment reminded me of Fist of Fury (1972) in which Bruce Lee’s Chen Zhen confronts the Japanese in the same fashion for the atrocities the Chinese people endured in these times.

The sequences that followed were shot beautifully and choreographed to perfection. The Wing Chun style is breathtaking to watch and impressive as well and I do believe that this segment was paying tribute to the 1972 Bruce Lee movie. It has to be said that the fighting sequences were the stand out elements in this movie with a classic and traditional simple storyline of period storytelling.

The characters are developed enough to understand and appreciate their struggle against an invasion on their homelands and sympathise with. The acting at times was perhaps predictable and the dialogue in translation at least wasn’t that brilliant from the supporting cast out with Yen’s portrayal of the main man whose lines where minimum and direct.

I enjoyed watching this movie and I have to agree with Donnie Yen in his description of Ip Man the movie. It isn’t an action film in the sense of all fists erm blazing. The movies pace is rather slow and lighthearted to begin with and reaches its bloody climax in some breathtaking cinematography. I would highly recommend anyone who enjoys the genre to watch “Ip Man” and prepared to be dazzled by the master of Wing Chun.