Ip Man 4: The Finale
t.l. Ip Man 4: il finale
葉問4：完結篇 (Yip Man 4: Yuhn Git Pin)
Hong Kong, 2019, 105’, Cantonese
Directed by: Wilson Yip
Script: Edmond Wong, Dana Fukazawa, Chan Tai-lee, Jil Leung
Photography (color): Cheng Siu-keung
Editing: Cheung Ka-fai
Art Direction: Kenneth Mak
Music: Kenji Kawai
Producers: Donnie Yen, Raymond Wong
Cast: Donnie Yen (Ip Man), Wu Yue (Wan Zonghua), Vanness Wu (Hartman Wu), Scott Adkins (Barton Geddes), Kent Cheng (Bob),Vanda Margraf (Yonah), Pierre Ngo (Leung Gun), Chris Collins (Colin Frater), Danny Chan (Bruce Lee), Lo Meng (Master Law)
Date of First Release in Territory: December 20th, 2019
Premiere status: European Festival Premiere
Martial arts star Donnie Yen returns for one last round in his signature role with Ip Man 4: The Finale, bringing to a close the main line of features dedicated to wing chun grandmaster Ip Man.
Three earlier instalments had followed Ip as he took on Japanese foes in the mainland during the war years and then as he lived, taught and fought in Hong Kong from 1949 onwards. This time the story picks up in 1964, with Bruce Lee (Danny Chan) in San Francisco spreading his kung fu philosophy and participating in major tournaments. A former student of Ip, Lee invites his old master to fly over and catch a contest – an invitation Ip initially declines before finding out he’d better head stateside anyway. With his son going off the rails in Hong Kong, Ip looks to the US for schooling the teenager in new surrounds. And, as should be expected in an Ip Man picture, the American trip turns out to be a rough experience.
First stop for Ip in San Francisco is the powerful Chinese Benevolent Association to get a recommendation letter for the kid – essential for putting him in a good school. The group is headed by martial artists with tai chi wiz Wan Zonghua (Wu Yue) at the top, and they’re not keen on Bruce Lee teaching foreigners. When Ip tells them that having Lee spread kung fu is a “wonderful thing,” he doesn’t win any friends and his hopes for getting the letter hit a wall. Soon after, Ip reconnects with Lee after a karate competition but the reunion is cut short by an alleyway brawl. And then, on a school visit, Ip finds himself protecting Wan’s daughter Yonah (Vanda Margraf) from bullies. Little does Ip know that he’s being pulled into far bigger battles that involve military hotheads and an angry immigration official.
With veteran choreographer Yuen Woo-ping overseeing the martial arts, Ip Man 4 ably delivers on the action front as star players and side performers alike display their prowess. One story arc involving a young Chinese-American military officer (Vanness Wu) sees wing chun used against the karate of a peer (Chris Collins) and their racist superior (Scott Adkins), as well as a quick series of fights on a Chinatown stage. Chairman Wan’s tai chi gets a showing, too, both in a private bout with Ip as well as a nasty affair later that drags in Ip and other fighters. Several key battles take place in a ring, on a stage or simply on a training mat, stripping down the action to basics without props and distractions. The Bruce Lee angle, after initial fights in the ring, oddly enough falls away as the plot gathers steam, but action buffs still have plenty to focus on in the other characters.
In his final turn as the grandmaster, Donnie Yen continues with the more grounded character portrayed in the past two instalments. Personal troubles for Ip give rise to a performance that balances domestic drama and trademark wing chun pummelling. And in a welcome change from the blunt nationalism of previous films, this time there’s a message of inclusiveness from the star as well as a call to fight injustice. It’s a rousing conclusion to a series that has become, over 11 years, Hong Kong cinema’s key attraction for kung fu cinema aficionados. But with the main line of Ip Man pictures brought to a close, a question is raised: What’s next to replicate its success?
Wilson Yip entered the Hong Kong film industry when he joined Cinema City in 1985. Before making his directing debut with 01:00AM (1995), he worked as assistant director. Yip came to international attention with the Joe Ma-produced films Bio-Zombie (1998), Bullets Over Summer (1999) and Juliet in Love (2000) and most recently has found box-office success with action movies starring Donnie Yen, including SPL (2005), Flash Point (2007) and Ip Man (2008).
1995 – 01:00 AM
1998 – Bio-Zombie
1999 – Bullets Over Summer
2000 – Juliet in Love
2005 – SPL
2008 – Ip Man
2010 – Ip Man 2
2015 – Triumph in the Skies
2015 – Ip Man 3
2019 – Ip Man 4: The Finale