Starring Donnie Yen. In Cantonese, with English subtitles. Rated PG.
Although the central conflicts in Ip Man 3 are just as preposterous as anything driving your typical martial-arts movie, the overall production values operate on such a high level that this surprisingly mellow sequel becomes a stand-alone work of specialized art.
Likable Donnie Yen returns as Ip Man, whom he played in two previous iterations. This kung fu grandmaster had a colourful life, even before he taught his Wing Chun fighting style to Bruce Lee—something amusingly alluded to in this tale, set in the steamy Hong Kong of 1959. The period details are lovingly applied, if you allow for Maori face tattoos, the latter sported by Mike Tyson, partially dubbed into Cantonese as a crooked tycoon.
Our hero is presented as a man of modesty and impeccable honour, which doesn’t always win him Brownie points with his tragically neglected wife (ethereal Lynn Hung). The film’s most compelling actor is wiry Zhang Jin, a lowly rickshaw puller who keeps helping Ip out of handsomely choreographed situations but seems to resent the graceful legend’s status. It’s inevitable that everyone will Wing Chun tonight, and when they do, you actually give a damn what they’re fighting for.