Combustible Celluloid
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With: Donnie Yen, Zhang Jin, Lynn Hung, Mike Tyson, Patrick Tam, Karena Ng, Cheung Kai-Chung, Kent Cheng, Leung Ka-Yan, Chan Kwok-Kwan
Written by: Edmond Wong, Chan Tai-li, Jill Leung
Directed by: Wilson Yip
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of martial arts violence and brief strong language
Language: Cantonese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 105
Date: 01/22/2016

Ip Man 3 (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Wing Chun Kings

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed, like Ip Man (2008) and Ip Man 2 (2010), by Wilson Yip, the new Ip Man 3 feels a little less substantial; set in 1959, it seems as if less attention has been paid to period detail and to events of historical importance, i.e. WWII. Certainly the costumes look appropriate, with some of the thugs wearing Converse Chuck Taylors, but it doesn't look like the costume department went crazy.

Rather than fighting an entire culture or an entire city, this time Ip Man (Donnie Yen) faces off with just one evil gang, bent on buying and closing down his son's school for their own nefarious ends. The real conflict comes between Ip Man and another Wing Chun master, Cheung Tin-chi (Zhang Jin). Their relationship is complex. Their sons fight at school, but quickly become friends. Cheung respects Ip Man's kung fu but doesn't agree with it. He's also a poor rickshaw puller and needs money; he fights for money on the side, and even briefly joins the bad guys. American heavyweight champ Mike Tyson, of all people, is here playing the head of the bad guys, and he gets to fight with Donnie Yen, but the final showdown is reserved for Ip Man and Cheung Tin-chi.

Director Yip keeps things low-key and well-paced. The fights get the job done but don't go over the top, and they're very often staged in constrained spaces, an umbrella stall, an elevator, or the hull of an unfinished ship. In a major subplot, Ip Man's wife grows ill, and Yip handles the drama with a slightly lighter touch than he might have; the scenes are moving but not melodramatic. A bonus subplot features Ip Man interacting with his most famous disciple, a young Bruce Lee (Chan Kwok-Kwan, in a dead-on impersonation). So, though it may not feel as profound as the first two entries, Ip Man 3 is ultimately more watchable and more purely entertaining.

Zhang Jin also appeared in Wong Kar-wai's arthouse version of the Ip Man story, The Grandmaster (2013).

Well Go USA's Blu-ray contains several very short, studio-produced featurettes, including a couple of making-of/behind-the-scenes pieces, interviews with Yen, Tyson, and director Yip, and trailers for this and other movies. The movie itself is available in Cantonese and English-dubbed, as well as Spanish-dubbed and French-dubbed; there are optional subtitles in English, Spanish, and French. Not surprisingly for a new movie, the sound and picture quality is excellent. (I noticed a kind of yellowish-brown tint to many scenes, but that may be the cinematographer's attempt to make the movie look more like something from the past.)

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