Welcome to Ip Man Week: Day 4. Now that we’re past the true Ip Man film franchise, we have to also recognize that Ip Man is also present in a number of other films as well. Ip Man: The Final Fight is nearly advertised as Ip Man 4, given the title font and the background of what’s going on. See the image below:
As you can see, all images have a bluish background that, for the most part, is like an explosion of color behind Ip Man, highlighting his features as well as the title, which is bronze in color, with red subtitles. For the most part, everything matches but the actor…but that’s just it. This movie has absolutely no connection to the other films, other than having a character with the same name. It’s actually a follow-up to 2010’s The Legend is Born: Ip Man: Ip Man. I wasn’t fully aware that that was the case, though. I decided against watching that film this week for a variety of reasons…one of which, it didn’t look very exciting. Regardless, this film shouldn’t be seen as a sequel.
Ip Man: The Final Fight follows Ip Man after he moved to Hong Kong after the war. Just like the other series, he begins to teach others on a rooftop in Hong Kong, and rival martial artists begin to take notice and stand against him. Unlike the others, it also follows Ip Man’s character a little more closely, and we do begin to see vulnerabilities, which Donnie Yen doesn’t seem to have. He has stomach pains, he needs to go to the dentist here, he’s aging – which…again, Donnie Yen doesn’t seem to do.
First and foremost, the thing I noticed with this film was that it immediately felt more like a biography. It was narrated pretty heavily by Ip Man’s son, it had fewer fight sequences than your typical martial arts film, and even when it did have them, they seemed less exciting than the others, which is what I imagine actual martial arts are like in real life. Honestly, it was just more of a boring film. That’s just what happens when it becomes more of a biopic. Life is interesting sometimes, but the pacing of actual life is all over the place…and unfortunately, Ip Man: The Final Fight also had some issues with that.
Alright, so I think it’s pretty clear that I prefer Donnie Yen in this role, which doesn’t get me too excited for tomorrow’s film…but hey…you never know, right? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and break this film down, shall we?
PEOPLE SCORE – 5/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 1|Casting – 0|Importance – 0|Chemistry – 2
Okay, guys. Let’s chat about the people category. I don’t think it’s necessarily a distracting aspect seeing someone else in this role after seeing Yen all week, as long as they did everything right. Well, they really didn’t, but half the time, the acting and chemistry were actually better than the other series – that is one of its positive elements, but it does lack in a lot of other spots, which isn’t so great. I can’t say the characters were all that memorable. Even Ip Man himself gets sort of lost in the crowd. The casting could have ultimately been better, and seeing how biographical this really is, no one really adds to the plot…because there’s really not much of a plot, to begin with.
WRITING SCORE – 2/10
Dialogue – 1|Balanced – 0|Story – 0|Originality – 0|Interesting – 1
Next up, we’ll go over the writing score, which as you can see, really suffered quite a bit. I think the dialogue was okay but typical, and the fact that this is an Ip Man movie automatically makes the film interesting in a way, but everything else was just bad. Biography features like this don’t have a clear end goal. You can see there’s a villain Ip Man will have to end up fighting, but he disappears for the rest of the movie, and nothing Ip Man does direct him in that direction. The story is ultimately bland and unoriginal, too. It mostly felt like a forgettable and direction-less martial arts film.
BTS SCORE – 5/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 1|Music – 1
Okay, folks, so what about the stuff going on behind the scenes? Well, I can’t really say it was phenomenal OR terrible. This category is split right down the middle for each subcategory. The visuals were just okay, could have been better, especially for the fight sequences. The directing and editing weren’t great, again, you need some smart directors and editors when it comes to martial arts, and I never really felt like I fully understood what I was watching. It was slightly false advertisement, as it clearly (in my opinion) tried to steal the Ip Man trilogy’s audience and, in a way, tries to convince them that this movie is something it’s not. The music is also typical and forgettable but fits as is.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 6/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 0|Obstacles – 1|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1
Alright, so the Narrative Arc score is typically speaking, the easiest category to get a high score in, and even so, Ip Man: The Final Fight got a mediocre score. Why? Mostly because it’s more of a biopic than a solid story. Real life doesn’t follow a narrative arc. The introduction did a fine job telling us what’s going on and who’s who, but there isn’t really any inciting incident. It simply follows this guy around, and nothing occurs that could be seen as a no going back moment. Obstacles could mostly be seen as random fights here and there, but most of those fights aren’t very dangerous either. The climax was pretty good, though, but it returns to just fine territory for the falling action.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 1/10
Rewatchability – 0|Fun – 1|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks audience in – 0
Okay, so how entertaining was it? Truthfully, not very. I consider this a highly boring film. I only gave “fun” half points because one of the fights was pretty decent. I wouldn’t rewatch it, I wouldn’t buy it or want to own it, I don’t care to talk about it, and never once did it suck me in. It’s just not very high on the entertainment value, sorry!
TOTAL SPECIAL – 25/50
Ip Man – 5|Martial Arts – 5|Biography – 0|Foreign – 5|Halfway Decent – 10
Finally, we move onto the specialty categories that I wrote before seeing the film. First and foremost, how does this film do as an Ip Man film? Eh, it was okay. The stuff on the roof was very reminiscent, the wooden dummies and cameos by Bruce Lee definitely helped, but nothing else felt right. The fights didn’t look familiar, and I feel like the choreography was okay at most. This was too much of a biography, in my opinion, so it ended up being a little too aimless, which gives us that feeling of, “when will it end”? As far as foreign films go, how was the experience reading the screen? This time, there was a ton of reading material, as it decided to have a narrator explain a lot, which meant more time was spent at the bottom of the screen than at the screen as a whole. Is it halfway decent? I believe it was done as they intended, so sure.