The biographical saga of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man comes to its conclusion with Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (The Four; White Vengeance) in the lead and Herman Yau (The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake) back at the helm. Capturing the latter days of the grandmaster’s life, the story finds Ip Man (Wong) settling in Hong Kong in the aftermath of World War II. Reluctantly taking on pupils and dealing with a personal illness, Man, separated from his wife who falls victim to tightened border restrictions finds himself in a new close relationship with nightclub singer/prostitute Jenny (Zhou Chuchu), challenged by rival martial arts schools, and slowly drawn into an escalating battle between Hong Kong’s infamous underworld Triad gangs.
Clocking in at just over 100 minutes, Ip Man: The Final Fight‘s slow-moving, drawn out storyline padded with lots of filler, including an opening act about union uprisings that, in the end, turns out to have absolutely no influence on the story at all, feels a lot longer than it actually is. Where The Final Fight works, as one might expect, is in the fantastically choreographed martial arts sequences that are sprinkled throughout the film and then really allowed to let loose in the last part of the film. There is also a sweetly handled relationship between Ip Man and the smitten – and much younger – Jenny, whom he meets by chance when he intercedes when a group of students from a rival martial arts studio begin to get to handsy with her. Though we never see the relationship consummated, we do get the feeling there is a mutual fondness their, even if it is a source of contention amongst his pupils.
Wong carries the film with his presence, taking an underwhelming screenplay and making it something worth sitting through. His veteran presence permeates the film and together with the finely choreographed fight sequences, it makes Ip Man: The Final Fight an acceptable if not wholly fleshed out ending to this biographical saga.
Ip Man: The Final Fight was shot in high definition on the Red One MX with Zeiss Ultra Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses and comes to Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Well Go USA. The digital image is clear and crisp with little anomalies and strong contrast. Colors pop nicely, especially primaries like reds.
We get a Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack alongside Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 dubs on this Well Go USA Blu-ray release. The original-language Cantonese 5.1 soundtrack is good, with some weighty thump in the low end to support the numerous punches, kicks and body blows. The musical score is balanced into the mix nicely and there are lush atmospherics through the surround channels. That said, the high end sounds tweaked and can become a bit fatiguing and dynamic range isn’t as wide as we’d like it to be.
There’s little here worth sitting through. The Making Of is brief, EPK type material. There are lengthy interviews with the cast and crew, but they will offer little replay value.
- Making Of (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:09:24)
- Cast & Crew Interviews (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
- US Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1)
- International Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1)
The Definitive Word
Ip Man: The Final Fight is less exciting than its title implies. With a little more work, the film could have ben so much better. It seems they didn’t quite know if they wanted to go for a full-blown martial arts action flick or an introspective drama, so it turned out lukewarm in all regards and a bit scattered. Still, Wong’s performance and the final martial arts battle are enough to warrant viewing this film.
Additional Screen Captures