MSJ at the Movies

Foreign Cinema: Ip Man 3 and Its Predecessors

As I entered into a local movie theater, I was filled with hope that Ip Man 3, starring Donnie Yen, would be as exciting and powerful as the first two. Three months ago, when I first heard about the third installment, I instantly hopped on my laptop to watch the official trailer. Sadly, I thought it was disappointing. I just hoped that the trailer did not do it justice. I hoped Donnie Yen, the famous martial artist and actor who portrayed Ip Man in the movies, could save it.

I soon found out I was wrong. The movie was as disappointing as the trailer. I was not able to feel the excitement I had felt watching the previous movies. The first Ip Man movie was the very movie that really brought me into the world of martial arts and foreign cinema. Being a bit biased toward Ip Man (aka Yip Man) and Donnie Yen, I quickly began to think of reasons why I enjoyed the movie, but I soon came to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing too great about it.

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Ip Man (2008)

The first installment, Ip Man, had a great plot and introduced the iconic martial arts master who made Wing Chun widely famous. (SPOILER ALERT) The first movie takes place during the 1930s and involves events like the Japanese invasion of Foshan in 1937. The Japanese invasion turns Ip Man’s life upside down and pushes him out of his wealthy life into downward spiral. During this time, Ip Man finds ways to provide and feed his pregnant wife. Ip Man is later seen witnessing a match between Chinese civilians of Foshan and military trainees, where the reward is a bag of rice. The man in charge of these matches is the Japanese General Miura, a martial arts master. Ip Man’s friend Lin then goes missing, and he finds out that Lin had been killed in an earlier fight. Ip Man demands justice for his fallen comrades and is then put into a match which quickly escalates to him fighting ten trained men. Ip Man, with his style of Wing Chun fighting is able to crush them furiously. General Mirua, impressed by Ip Man’s style, asks him to train his men. Ip Man refuses and demands a match with the general. By the end of the movie we see Ip Man and General Miura in an epic match. This is yet another scene that shows the mastery of Ip Man. Ip man clearly wins and defeats Genral Mirua, but is then shot and collapses onto the ground. Finally, we see him with his family and a friend in a truck driving to safety.

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Ip Man 2 (2011)

I found the second installment, Ip Man 2, to be relatively good. I enjoyed the movie because it was different from the first. I also felt the movie was more upbeat since it has a less depressing setting and atmosphere than the first. (SPOILER ALERT) The period in which the second movie takes place is the time of British occupation of Hong Kong in the early 1950s. Ip Man is able to move himself out of poverty into a more stable home. Though Ip Man still does not have a lot of money, he opens a business where he teaches people who want to learn Wing Chun. The pupils in his class later get into trouble, and of course Ip Man has to step in and fix these problems. This eventually leads to him having to obtain licenses for his martial arts club, so he is put to the test to see if he was worthy enough to teach. The pupil who caused problems then happens to anger another pupil from a different martial arts club. We see Master Ip Man and Master Hung Chun-Nam in a match, which ends in a tie. Later, we see Master Hung Chun-Nam fight for country and respect against a British boxer who is seen as racist and offensive to the Chinese people in Hong Kong. Master Hung Chun-Nam challenges the British boxer but loses because he starts having an asthma attack. The British boxer then punches him endlessly until he collapses dead. People are outraged. Ip Man stands with Master Hung Chun-Nam in his final minutes, and the dying master whispers to Ip Man the British boxer’s secret flaw. Ip Man then challenges him to a fight and defeats him, earning praise among the crowd.

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Ip Man 3 (2016)

So when I saw the third installment recently, Ip Man 3, I thought it was an embarrassment to the Ip Man series and just did not live up to the same potential as the other two movies. I could think of multiple different martial arts franchise movies better than this, such as the two Raid movies (Raid: Redemption and Raid 2), Ong-Bak, and the list goes on. The movie’s plot was terrible and had too many things going on at once. The plot was boring and terribly written. The movie added Mike Tyson, who I knew was not right for the role. He is not even an actor! I don’t mean you can’t hire someone who plays a sport, but Mike Tyson’s acting is not the highlight of his skill set. The movie barely even used the boxer. I felt that the producer just decided, “Hey, let’s take a known boxer and put him into the movie! That will create more fans!” Also, in my experience with martial arts movies in foreign cinema, movies have to have an R-rating, or else they leave out major keys to a successful martial arts movie.

So, even with Donnie Yen, the movie could not be saved. I would recommend not watching the movie in theaters. The best option would be to just save your money and wait until the movie hits digitally or on DVD. If you are looking for a good action movie, just watch Deadpool.