Since Bruce Lee’s ascent to worldwide stardom, a number of Chinese action movie stars have built their careers on kung fu.
While the little dragon is credited with having brought real martial arts to Chinese action cinema, the one who brought martial arts to Lee escaped popular attention until the 2008 biopic film Ip Man.
The Ip Man film series, the third entry of which arrived on March 4, tells the story of Wing Chung master Yip Man.
The first film presents Yip as a then unknown young man with powerful kung fu who brings fame to Wing Chun with his victory over Kam Shan-chu, a northern kung fu master who defeated all the masters in Foshan, Guangdong province.
Encouraged by his wife Cheung Wing-sing, Yip accepts the challenge and defeats Kam, solidifying Wing Chun’s reputation.
Yip’s victory attracts the attention of Japanese kung fu enthusiast Miura, who killed Yip’s friend in a fight. Miura asks Yip to teach Wing Chun to the Japanese soldiers, but Yip refuses. After a fierce fight, he flees to Hong Kong with the help of his friends to avoid Miura’s revenge.
The second film, released in 2010, tells the story of Yip’s life in Hong Kong. Yip opens kung fu school and takes in students to make a living. Wong Leung, his first student, goes on to win many competitions with other local kung fu schools.
Wing Chun’s rising reputation throws the two into a conflict with Hung Chun-nam, a Hung Ga kung fu master. During their battle,
British colonial forces arrive. Yip and Hung are forced to team up to confront the colonial government.
The latest film shows and older Yip, who steps in to defend his son’s school, tackles an abusive factory boss and who cares for his wife, now dying of cancer. Yip even surrenders a challenge from Cheung Tin-chi, a Wing Chun fighter after his title.
Although the new film is ostensibly about a conflict between Wing Chun masters, Ip Man 3 fails to build any drama. The main attention is its expertly choreographed kung fu scenes.
Donnie Yen, who returns for a third time as Yip, was born in a kung fu family and learned martial arts from a young age. Zhang Jin, who plays Cheung Tin-chi, is also a well known Chinese kung fu fighter.
The film includes an appearance by American boxer Mike Tyson. His three-minute fight between Yip and the fight between Yip and Cheung represent some of the best fight choreography to ever grace the big screen, according to reviewers.