Donnie Yen takes his final turn as the famous Ip Man…
So I had the esteemed pleasure of viewing Ip Man 4: The Finale, the highly anticipated final chapter in the decade spanning Ip Man saga. Since the release of the first installment, the Ip Man series has given us some of the finest examples of on-screen combat, and brought star Donnie Yen long overdue international acclaim.
And after Ip Man 3, that seemed to be it. But now, here we are. Ip Man 4. The End of an Era. Not only the final entry in the series, but the final traditional kung fu film from Donnie Yen. So, do they go out with a whimper… or a bang? Let’s find out!
Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019) Review
The Kung Fu master travels to the U.S. where his student has upset the local martial arts community by opening a Wing Chun school.
It is my profound honor to tell you all that the series does in fact go out with a bang with Ip Man 4! This was a great grand finale to an iconic series of movies. Stirring drama, great acting, and amazing displays of martial arts wizardry. And to top it off, Donnie Yen vs Scott Adkins! But before getting into that, let’s talk about the cast first.
Donnie Yen turns in another stellar performance as the legendary grandmaster, this time conveying a more wiser, world weary and contemplative Ip Man than we have seen before. Still mourning the death of his beloved wife, he struggles to maintain a relationship with his son as he tries to plan for the future. Yen has the character down pat and could’ve easily chosen the sleepwalking route with his performance, but still chose to give his best. Marvelous!
The rest of the cast also delivers incredibly. Kwok-Kwan Chan is a sheer delight in his scenes as Bruce Lee. A pure joy to watch. Yue Wu is also great as Wan Zong Hua, the traditional “enemy who becomes a friend” role of the Ip Man franchise. And Chris Collins is absolutely dastardly as Colin Frater, a hateful karate expert.
Donnie Yen vs. Scott Adkins!
But the true standout of the cast goes to Mr. Scott Adkins in an epic, scenery chewing performance as Staff Sergeant Barton Geddes, an unbelievably hateful marine who wants to disprove the effectiveness of “Chinese Kung Fu”. Adkins is obviously having a ball here, relishing every second as the villain, and more than once invoking memories of the late, great Darren Shahlavi from Ip Man 2. Bravo, Mr. Adkins. Bravo.
But now, let’s get down to business… the action. And… IT’S ALL AWESOME! Screw trying to sound intelligent about it, the fight scenes in this fricking rule! Sheer badass kung fu extravaganza! Franchise helmer Wilson Yip, coupled with legendary fight choreographer/director Yuen Wo-Ping give us the last truly great fight scenes of the decade! So many great scuffles: Kwok-Kwon Chan vs Mark Strange. Donnie Yen vs Yue Wu. Donnie Yen vs Chris Collins. Absolutely fantastic stuff!
But none more greater than the greatness that is Donnie Yen vs Scott Adkins. Now, when it was first announced that Scott Adkins would be taking on Donnie Yen in this, my heart skipped a beat. And I’ve been clammy hand with total anticipation for pure epicness ever since then. And if you were too, I am pleased to announce that they did not disappoint. This fight was awesome. Incredible. Dazzling. Mind blowing. Spectacular. Breathtaking. Sensational, and more. I can sit here and go on all day on how great this fight was. When it comes to fight choreography, this scene is a true modern work of art.
How Does it Stack up in the Ip Man Franchise?
Now, were there any issues? One I had was that the film couldn’t decide on who its main villain was. You think it’s clearly going to be Adkins, but then the movie goes out of its way to set up someone else as a would be villain, only to disregard them and their story fairly quickly. Ok, so I guess Scott is the main villain after all.
And there’s another side plot that is so important to the narrative of the story, but then that is thrown away and completely unresolved by the end of it. Sooo… what happened afterwards? Everything is just back to normal now? Ok, I guess…
But other than that, this was a more than fitting ending to this amazing series of films that has kept us enthralled since its first entry. I hate to see it officially end, but it has been one hell of a ride.
Good journey, Grandmaster.