Making a bid to take over the city and properties therein, brutal gangsters set their sights on a local martial arts school, determined to have the place for their own – at any cost. Resident genius, at kicking and punching, Master Ip (Donnie Yen) takes umbrage to this, putting all of his talents to good use in tackling the hoodlums head on. This is done mostly by kicking or punching them in the head, and sometimes by using a very long pole.
Wilson Yip’s latest is the third in a series based on the life and adventures of the real-life martial arts master (to Bruce Lee, no less – distractingly featured, all chin and huff). Neophytes shouldn’t worry though, as Ip Man 3 is thoroughly accessible to newbies – so much so, in fact, to occasionally be to its detriment. The predictable, overdone story is but a backdrop to Donnie Yen coolly beating the paste out of hordes of sharply dressed idiot gangsters, with precision and brutality. “I dabble,” Ip Man humbly shrugs, when questioned on his martial arts prowess early in the film. Contrast this with everything that follows, as the man barely breaks a sweat throughout.
Unlike Mike Tyson, a man so uncomfortable in front of a camera that he singlehandedly drags the film to a screeching halt whenever he appears. A stunningly awful actor in any language (you’ll need the subtitles, even when he’s speaking English), Mike Tyson’s Frank is at least sparingly used, barely figuring into the action at all at first (or even at the end, ultimately). Thankfully, so long as he keeps his mouth shut, he cuts an imposing figure, flinging one stooge across the room with but one punch. He’s a ridiculous actor and a bad human being, but there’s no denying that he gives Ip Man 3 a villain to remember. Outside of Donnie Yen and the incredible choreography, he’s Ip Man 3’s main draw. That battle between Ip and Frank is well worth the wait - there’s a moment where Frank punches poor Ip so hard that he looks physically sick, and it’s this attention to detail that makes each and every fight a thing of beauty.
A clichéd story (its tender and quietly heartbreaking romance aside) told well and with some truly breathtaking action, Ip Man 3 should please both aficionados of the franchise and newbies alike. Slick, fast, frantic and always impressive, it makes even the presence of Charisma Black Hole Tyson (don’t tell him we said that) feel worthwhile. And really, he’s not in it all that much.
IP MAN 3 / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: WILSON YIP / SCREENPLAY: EDMOND WONG/ STARRING: DONNIE YEN, ZHANG JIN, MIKE TYSON, LYNN HUNG / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 25TH