I have been meaning to watch Ip Man for some time, but I didn’t have an excuse until now. While the viewing audience of these films tends to be people interested in seeing Donnie Yen’s martial arts performance, the first two films do have a lot of historical significance. Whether it’s Ip Man’s triumph against the Japanese Commander during the time of Japanese invasion or Ip Man’s display of anti-imperialist sentiments shared by the British / the message of equality in fighting styles and dignity, the films have always displayed some depicting of attitudes (namely Chinese ones) at the time. And for that reason, the films do fit in some World History courses.
So where does that leave Ip Man 3? Where the first films had a historical template to draw from, I felt a lack of one in Ip Man 3. The film bolsters a huge fight between Mike Tyson and Ip Man, but I was left with very little to say about how this film would fit in a classroom. The film starts out with an aging Ip Man meeting Bruce Lee once again and delves into Mike Tyson’s desire to breathe new life into the city through reconstruction. Using an arsenal of chinese henchmen, Mike Tyson harasses the city and Ip Man is left to defend it with his group of students. The motives, however, lack key ties to any history and after the fight between Ip Man and Mike Tyson, the plot thins to a point where Mike Tyson is okay with leaving the city as is.
The film leaves very little that can be brought into the classroom, but does a decent job of bringing closure to the character. As the last film in the trilogy, Ip Man 3 is almost a good bye to Donnie Yen as the legendary Ip Man. We see it in his last meetings with Bruce Lee, which end on an optimistic note with Lee teaching Ip Man how to dance and Ip Man agreeing to train Lee. We see it in the final scenes with his dying wife as he leaves a major Kung Fu fight against a supposed Wing Chun Master behind in order to spend more time with her. We see it in his display of momentary weakness – seemingly destroying 11 Japanese soldiers in the first film and struggling with 8 industrial workers. We question his abilities as he ages only to see at the very end that Ip Man reigns supreme. Ip Man challenges the master who claims to be the strongest in Wing Chun behind closed doors only to show a new move – the famous one-inch punch to bring his opponent into submission. I would definitely say that I enjoyed the film as a great goodbye to the characters, but to say that it belongs remotely in the classroom or even above the other two Ip Man films is something I cannot.
I give Ip Man, a 6/10.