Monday, March 24, 2014

Film Review: Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013)

Ip Man: The Final Fight (Review)
China/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Streaming
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...bits of information are appreciated, and I did enjoy the story..."

The story of the elder Ip Man (Anthony Wong) as he moves into Hong Kong to start anew.

Ip Man: The Final Fight is part biopic, part martial arts action flick. The story follows Ip Man in his older years as he live in Hong Kong -- still physically capable, but also chronically ill. We see him teach Wing Chung to his students, we see him spread wisdom, we see him loss and love again, we see him fight, and so on. But, as far as a biographical film goes, these are bits and pieces of information compared to what could've been offered. The information of Ip Man's late life is further diluted as the film tends to follow his students and their personal lives just as much. And considering the final fight has little buildup, this really should've been called Ip Man and Friends. The ending of the film was great, though; it was sentimental and offered some info on the Ip Man-Bruce Lee relationship.

The action is great, too, showing Ip Man's masterful skill continued to the very end. Since the film can't decide between biopic or action movie, Ip Man: The Final Fight seems very confused, so the action is inconsistent. One action sequence here, then a plethora of somewhat informative scenes, then another action sequence. The information seems authentic, but the action can be heavy-handed and occasionally cheesy; so, these two elements really keep clashing throughout the film creating an inconsistent mood and atmosphere. What I'm saying is: this can be seen as half a biopic or half a martial arts film, but it never fully becomes either, unlike the original films, and even the prequel.

Anthony Wong is great as Ip Man. He embodies wisdom and tranquility, and has the fighting skills to portray the character, regardless of stunt doubles and so on. The rest of the supporting cast is great, too, creating a likable bunch of characters; but there are so many of them, they hardly had a chance to really perform. The set designs and costumes are fantastic, the setting especially felt authentic and immersive. The fight choreography was also great, especially the final fights; I just wish the fighting had more consistency. The music fits the setting, but it's not very distinct compared to other films in the same setting. Herman Yau directs The Final Fight, but lacks focus this time around; not informative enough to be an all-out biopic, and lacks the consistent action to be an all-out martial arts film; it feels like it's jumping around trying to avoid picking a single genre or style, but it could've been both, right?

Overall, Ip Man: The Final Fight is a good film. The bits of information are appreciated, and I did enjoy the story; the focus on the students hindered the experience a bit, though. The action sequences are great, too, but they are far and few between. It's a good film that could've been great or even fantastic. The series can be revitalized with better, more consistent writing and more unique, creative, and realistic fight choreography; or, at least, the return of Donnie Yen.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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