Ip Man 4: The Finale
review by Bobby Blakey
In 2008 martial arts star Donnie Yen brought Bruce Lee’s legendary master Yip Man to the big screen with Ip Man. The film has since not only become a classic as one of the best martial arts films in years, but spawned a franchise with two sequels and an upcoming spin-off film Master Z: Ip Man Legacy. Initially it was announced that the third chapter would be its last, fans were excited to hear that Yen would be returning one last time for a fourth chapter with Ip Man 4: The Finale co-starring Wu Yue, Van Ness, Scott Adkins. Could this final film in the series bring this epic martial arts franchise to a satisfying close or will it finally lose the fight?
Ip Man 4 follows the Kung Fu master who travels to the U.S. where his student has upset the local martial arts community by opening a Wing Chun school. As if getting this new chapter wasn’t enough starring alongside Yen is martial arts action star Scott Adkins and from the trailer it looks to be an epic showdown. I love every film in this series despite some issues here and there. Where some fall short it’s the ongoing story that keep them engaging and a lot bigger than they actually are. Sure there are elements that are clearly embellished with the Hollywood style filmmaking in the story of Ip Man, but it’s the man and his passion and ideals that is the heart of the story.
This latest entry continues that journey and while none of the sequels were really necessary they have all brought more depth to his legacy and this one is no different. Where this one changes the game up is bringing the majority of the film to the US. I applaud them for bringing even more of the Bruce Lee element to the story for this tale that further showcases his legacy and importance to the evolution of Wing Chun. There is something always off to me with any non-Asian actors in these productions. It is necessary to the story and they are fine, but it just always feels off and I believe that is more due to the dubbing and voice over work used in a lot of these films.
Donnie Yen continues to fully embrace Ip Man and here it’s hard to believe that he is able to bring something different and mature to this last film in the franchise. Here he is older and gone through so many things in his life both
good and bad and it takes its toll. Now dealing with being a single parent to an angry teenager along with his own health makes for an interesting direction for him to deal with both things that cannot be handled with his fists. Make no mistake though there is plenty of action with Yen not missing a beat with his signature Wing Chun style. There are familiar faces getting in some of the action from previous entries as well as a great recreation of the famed Bruce Lee demonstration at the Long Beach International Karate Championships. This story and action alone is worth checking out the final entry, but the addition of martial arts action star Scott Adkins as the rival this time around made it all the better. He brings the action and a great tension to a character you will no doubt hate in the best way possible.
This is a definitive end to the Ip Man story and makes it feel complete. I am so glad that we got a series like this that not only does this iconic man’s legacy justice but being throughout four feature films has allowed them to focus on different elements of his life. This is easily one of, if not the greatest martial arts series to date and one I will no doubt be watching again and again for years to come.
Check out Ip Man 4: The Finale in theaters now.