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Ip Man: The Final Fight (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 30, 2013 by  



shootthesun

For those wanting to know the more personal side of Ip Man after his move from Foshan and his life in Hong Kong and the last two decades of his life, then “Ip Man: The Final Fight” is a popcorn martial arts action film that I can easily recommend.

Images courtesy of © 2013 Well Go USA Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Ip Man: The Final Fight

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Cantonese (original) with English subtitles and English (Dub) DTS 5.1 HD-MA and Stereo

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Martial Arts Violence and Some Drug Related Material)

Release Date: November 12, 2013

Directed by Herman Yau

Screenplay by Erica Lee

Produced by Bak-Ming Wong, Albert Yeung

Co-Producer: Catherine Hun, Cherry Law

Executive Producer: Albert Lee, Kwok Lam Sin

Line Producer: Chi-Wai Fung

Music by Chun Hung Mak

Cinematography by Kwong-hung Chan

Edited by Wai Chiu Chung

Production Design by Raymond Chan

Costume Design by Thomas Chong

Starring:

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang as Ip Man

Gillian Chung as Chan Sei-mui

Jordan Chan as Tang Shing

Eric Tsang as Ng Chung

Marvel Chow as Wang Dong

Zhou Chuchu as Jenny

Timmy Hung as Leung Sheung

Luxia Jiang as Li Quiong

Xin Xin Xiong as Local Dragon

In postwar Hong Kong, legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man is reluctantly called into action once more. What began as simple challenges from rival kung fu schools soon finds him drawn into the dark and dangerous underworld of the Triads. Now, to defend life and honor, Ip Man has no choice but to fight – one last time.

From Herman Yau, the director of “The Legend is Born: Ip Man and “The Eight Immortals Restaurant: The Untold Story” and Erica Lee, the writer of “The Legend is Born: Ip Man”, “King of Comedy” and “Marry a Rich Man” comes a new Ip Man film titled “Ip Man: The Final Fight”.

For those not familiar with Ip Man (Yip Kai-man), the Chinese martial artist is known for teaching the martial arts known as Wing Chun to his students, one who would become an international movie star… Bruce Lee.  But the presence and life story showcasing the legendary Wing Chun grandmaster has become quite popular in the last several years with four films plus a TV series having now been made.

As filmmaker Herman Yau was wanting to focus on the last 20-years of Ip Man, who left Foshan to teach in Hong Kong after the Chinese Communist Party won the Chinese Civil War (Ip Man was a member of the Nationalist Party who were against the Communist during the Civil War) and up to the moment of his death.

It’s important to note that this film is not “The Grandmaster” (directed by Wong Kar-wai), another 2013 film about Ip Man’s life after he left Foshan and also about his life, also leading up to his death in 1972.

Starring in “Ip Man: The Final Fight” are Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (“Exiled”, “Infernal Affairs” films, “The Eight Immortals Restaurant: The Untold Story”), pop star/actress Gillian Chung (“Vampire Effect, “The Twins Effect” films), Jordan Chan (“White Vengeance”, “Initial D – Drift Racer”, “Skyline Cruisers”) and Eric Tsang (“Gen X Cops”, “Comrades: Almost a Love Story”, “The Accidental Spy”).

And now “Ip Man: The Final Fight” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment in Nov. 2013.

“Ip Man: The Final Fight” is a story that is narrated by Ip Man’s eldest son, Ip Chun, who tells the story of his father’s move to Hong Kong.

The film begins with Ip Man (portrayed by Anthony Wong Chau-sang) moving to Hong Kong in 1949.  Suffering from chronic gastric problems, he looks for opportunities to make a living and meets Leung Sheung (portrayed by Timmy Hung), who helps him establish his school not long after, and begins training students on top of a rooftop of a building which houses a hotel staff’s general association.

Among his students is Tang Shing (portrayed by Jordan Chan), a police officer who is often feeling guilty because he is offered a lot of money as bribes by criminal organizations, and this is during a time when people are not doing as well financially and are trying to make a living.

He also teaches Chan Sei-mui (portrayed by Gillian Chung), Wang Dong (portrayed by Marvel Chow), Lee King, Chan Sei-mui and others.

While Ip Man is respected by his students, they often have difficulty of knowing what is right and wrong because the times are bad and they are underpaid.  The young students go on strike for higher wages, while the police are there to stop the strikes which puts Tang Shing against his friends.

Meanwhile, we see how life goes for Ip Man as his wife Cheung Wing-sing (portrayed by Anita Yuen) visits him but learns quickly that poverty is even worse in Hong Kong.  Meanwhile, as Jenny is not willing to stay in Hong Kong, she goes back to Foshan to raise the children, meanwhile a singer named Jenny tries to get closer to Ip Man, despite his disciples not liking her at all.

But the film shows us how Ip Man tried to keep his students on the straight and narrow, the competition he faced with other schools but also the corruption of the underworld via the triads in the area, as they try to get Tang Shing involved by utilizing Wing Chun student Wang Dong in martial arts fights.

The film gives us a look at his relationship with his students, Jenny, his wife (during their final meeting with each other), his relationship with his eldest son Ip Chun but also his relationship with Bruce Lee.

VIDEO:

“Ip Man: The Final Fight” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Picture quality is very good with closeups showcasing the detail of the pores in the face of Anthony Wong and also other characters.  The action choreography is fluid and I personally didn’t notice any problems with banding or compression issues during my viewing.

Colors are vibrant during the day, blacks are nice and deep but overall, “Ip Man: The Final Fight” looks very good on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ip Man: The Final Fight” is presented in Cantonese and English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and stereo.  The Cantonese soundtrack is good but not as immersive as I was hoping.  In fact, I found the trailer for the film to be much more immersive, but overall dynamic range is good, dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear.  But it’s more of a front channel driven soundtrack and showcasing dialogue and music.  Action scenes could have utilized the surround channels much more.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ip Man: The Final Fight” comes with the following special features:

  • Making Of – (9:24) A short behind-the-scenes looking at the making of “Ip Man: The Final Fight” with interviews with director Herman Yau and cast members.
  • Cast & Crew Interviews – Featuring interviews with producer Chekley Sin (1:51), Marvel Chow (1:15), Liu Kai-chi (:37), Eric Tasang (1:58), action choreographer Li-chung Chi (1:38), Xin Xin Xiong (1:27), Cho-lam Wong (:37), Anita Yuen (1:51), Gillian Chung (1:23), Jordan Chan (3:30) and Anthong Wong Chau-sang (5:00)
  • Trailers – Featuring the U.S.(1:46) and international trailer (2:07) for “Ip Man: The Final Fight”.

EXTRAS:

“Ip Man: The Final Fight” comes with a slipcover.

Since 2008, we have seen a string of films about “Ip Man” being released.

It’s one thing for people to be interested in the life of Bruce Lee but the story of Ip Man is fascinating.  The original film by Wilson Yip and starring Donnie Yen was exciting as it show how he and his family, who were among the wealthy in Foshan thanks to his thriving martial arts school not only faced rival schools but would lose everything when the Japanese invaded the area and literally, leaving his family poor and trying to survive in order to feed his starving family.

While the first film captivated viewers internationally, with many films of “Ip Man” and his life after Foshan and moving to Hong Kong have led to stories which one doesn’t know if they are factual or made up.  While “Ip Man 2” focused on Ip Man and his family moving to Hong Kong in the 1950’s and showing how he started a school and life became problematic among other schools, let alone the British bringing boxing to the Hong Kong area to fight against various representatives of martial arts, I just felt things were taking a turn towards the unbelievable and become more distant from the actual person.

In 2010, filmmaker Herman Yau brought viewers “The Legend is Born: Ip Man” which focused on how Ip Man learned Wing Chun and how he met his wife, Cheung Wing-shing.

And now 2013, Herman Yau wanted to focus on the story of Ip Man during his later life after he moved to Hong Kong.

This film pretty much counters what was seen in “Ip Man 2”, showing us an Ip Man that is much more vulnerable due to his health issues with gastric problems, he’s older but yet, can still show his students of why he is a legendary grandmaster of Wing Chun.

While those who loved Donnie Yen’s action films will no doubt enjoy “Ip Man: The Final Fight” for its action scenes, this film is not all about the actions but also the relationships in Ip Man’s life.

In Wilson Yip’s “Ip Man”, we saw a man who would do anything for his family and be with his wife and children.  In “Ip Man: The Final Fight”, he leaves his family to go to Hong Kong to seek a better way of living.  Also, to escape communist rule (note: Hong Kong was a British Dependent Territory under British administration form 1841-1997).

I did not know he left his family behind and to see in this film how he was happy to be reunited with his wife for a short time but to see how he was not going to ever go back to China and see her ever again. It was rather sad to know that Cheung Wing-shing, wanted to see a better and peaceful life but going to Hong Kong, she knew it was no different or perhaps worse.

The film also added two tidbits that I never knew happened, through the narration of the film, Ip man and his wife had two children which died of starvation (I have never read this before as what I read was mostly about how he had several sons).  But also seeing how his relationship with his son was like he would treat his disciples, which was a bit of a surprise because in the first “Ip Man” film, his depiction was a family man.

So, I would assume that either World War II changed Ip Man or circumstances changed him, I’m not entirely sure.

And last, it was his relationship with “the woman from the North”.  “Ip Man: The Final Fight” talks about a woman named Jenny that he becomes close to, while living in Hong Kong.  This is interesting in contrast to Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster” who featured Ip man with another woman named Gong Er.  So, I’m not really entirely sure if these women actually did happen in his life or were changed in the book version.  Again, a situation which I don’t know if it’s factual or just a film romanticized for cinema sake.

The film also showcases Ip Man’s relationship with Bruce Lee and considering how much Bruce Lee adored his master, watching this film, I guess Ip Man felt differently.

So, when it comes to accurate portrayals of Ip Man, I’m not sure if there is a film that is true or made up.  Ip Man’s youngest son, Ip Ching, does write a bite about his father’s life in “Ip Man – Portrait of a Kung Fu Master” but not enough to to touch upon the deeper side of his life rather than to showcase the Wing Chun grandmaster as legendary.  And I can understand no one wanting to tarnish the image of Ip Man, he’s a hero, his a teacher and he inspired many people.

So, with the many films out there, one should not look to them as completely factual but “Ip Man: The Final Fight” among the different films about Ip Man features more of a personal story.  I felt the story was a little bit rough around the edges and so far when it came to story and action, the Wilson Yip “Ip Man” still continues to be my favorite among the Ip Man films.

Possibly the moment where I had to roll up my eyes was the action scene of his students fighting against a triad armed with machete’s, crowbars and knives and none of the Wing Chun students being injured was a bit too farfetched for me.  But this is a popcorn action film and you just take things as is and not try to think too much about whether or not a scene can really happen.

As for the Blu-ray, there are a few things I want to touch upon.  There are some people saying the subtitles were hard to read, I don’t know if they are watching this on a standard definition  TV but the white subtitles were crisp and clear on my 1080p television.  The details of the film were also noticed with the closeups showing the skin pores on Anthony Wong’s face.  While I wish the lossless soundtrack was as active as the theatrical trailer, lossless soundtrack was good, dialogue was crisp and clear but not so immersive as I was hoping, during the action scenes.

As for special features, you get a 10-minute making of and short interviews with cast and crew.

Overall, “Ip Man: The Final Fight” is not in the same category as the Donnie Yen “Ip Man” films because the focus is much more different and more personal.  This is an older Ip Man, an Ip Man who has health problems, an Ip Man who left his wife and children behind and an Ip Man that is much more vulnerable but yet, tries to teach his students Wing Chun and still showing that despite his older age, he can still fight.

While there are moments that I question being factual, I did enjoy this Herman Yau film versus his other Ip Man film, “The Legend is Born: Ip Man”. I felt there was more to this story but I felt certain scenes could have been better, may it be the relationship and connections in Ip Man’s life with various characters to the action scene.

For those wanting to know the more personal side of Ip Man after his move from Foshan and his life in Hong Kong and the last two decades of his life, then “Ip Man: The Final Fight” is a popcorn martial arts action film that I can easily recommend.

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