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Ip Man 3

In: Film and Music

Submitted By Isaacy
Words 611
Pages 3
Isaac Yap
3/5 stars

This is it. The final installment in the kung-fu movie trilogy that dramatizes the life of the legendary Chinese folk hero: Ip Man. And what a colossal letdown it is.

While less disgustingly nationalistic than the second installment, Ip Man 3 lacks the Cantonese humor and the glowing humanity of the first one and is overall a lackluster conclusion to what was supposed to be a kung-fu epic. Donnie Yen returns yet again to play the role of Ip Man, the martial arts master who taught the “Wing-Chun” style to hundreds Cantonese students including the young Bruce Lee. Unsurprisingly, Ip Man is the canonical hero who embodies the Chinese values of familial love, filial piety and flipping men over walls to protect the underdogs of society.

Most of the characters in Ip Man 3 are one-dimensional and extremely polarized. For example, Patrick Tam plays the zougou (what the Chinese called fellow countrymen who served their colonial masters), the one who betrayed his master for money. He is lackadaisical, an absolute evil with neither depth nor duality. Ip Man 3’s cast is predictable and even worse, boring.

Perhaps the worst thing about Ip Man 3 is its weak pedestrian plot chock full of clichés. So many Chinese movies use either a corrupt Westerner or a barbaric Japanese invader as the main antagonist that it has become a cliché. Ip Man 3 subscribes to the same formula and underwhelms me with its lack of imagination. Ip Man himself is a stoic, impassive and uninteresting hero. By this installment, Ip Man has lost his vibrant human characteristics that used to bubble just beneath the surface of his skin. He is no longer the man torn between his natural pacifism and standing up for his countrymen. Ip Man 3 has devolved from a heartfelt story of a lone hero surviving the Japanese occupation to a generic superhero movie that strikes a chord with neither its Eastern nor Western audience. Give him a red mask, and he could be Spiderman for all you know.

To be fair, the movie does make feeble attempts to revive the human touch the first movie had. The movie covers the final days of Ip Man’s spouse Cheung Wing Sing as she succumbs to cancer. On her deathbed, I can hear the movie begging me; “This is the part where you cry. Please cry.” I cannot. She has been on screen for 4 minutes. I barely know her name.

Now, I’m no expert on cinematography, but the way Ip Man 3 is filmed does not impress me. That is not to say that the camera angles are unprofessional, but the film is shot just like every other kung-fu movie so much so that it makes the movie monotonous. The camera pans down on busy streets, peeks around the corner before fight scenes, and is most of the time a static frame that follows Ip as he runs around Hong Kong doing his thing (in which I mean repeatedly beating up poor souls who do not practice martial arts). When you compare it to a movie epic such as Schindler’s List, Ip Man 3 almost looks amateurish.

Ip Man 3 isn’t terrible per se. Its action scenes still are spectacular, and its 1 hour and 50 minutes screen time suffices as entertainment for the whole family. Its just sad how poorly it sizes up against its predecessors it is an inadequate conclusion to what started out as a great trilogy. All in all, Ip Man 3 is good as a brainless martial arts movie and only as a brainless action movie.

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