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Blu-ray Review: Ip Man 4: The Finale

June 2, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The latest and supposedly final instalment in this heavily dramatized saga of the man who taught Bruce Lee martial arts, Ip Man 4: The Finale finds Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man (Donnie Yen) coming to America and battling racism in San Francisco circa 1964.

At the start of the film, Ip Man is diagnosed with throat cancer, and leaves Hong Kong for San Francisco to try and find an American school for his teenaged son, Ip Ching (He Ye). In America, he reunites with Bruce Lee (Danny Chan), and ends up involved in a rivalry with other grandmasters in San Francisco’s Chinatown who are at odds with Lee over his willingness to teach martial arts to western students.

The film’s main subplot focuses on one of Lee’s students, Hartman Wu (Vanness Wu), a young staff sergeant in the Marines who wants to train the military in the art of kung fu, but faces pushback from the racist, anti-Chinese gunnery sergeant Barton Geddes (Scott Adkins), who is only okay with karate being taught for combat reasons. Ip Man also gets caught up in this rivalry, which leads to a supremely entertaining hand-to-hand combat showdown in the finale that unfolds with a lot of moving parts.

Yes, the English-language dialogue is cheesy at times, and Adkins is purposefully chewing up the scenery in his role as the film’s one-note American antagonist, but this all adds to the entertainment value of Ip Man 4: The Finale. Director Wilson Yip, who also helmed the first three films in the series which started in 2008, does a good job of keeping this fourth instalment moving along with its various characters and subplots. The fight scenes are as well choreographed as we have come to expect and often a lot of fun, pitting different martial arts disciplines against each other.

While Ip Man 4: The Finale works on a base level as an at times gleeful martial arts action movie, it’s also got heart. Yen grounds the film with an often nicely understated performance, finding some nice grace notes in his portrayal of a man accepting the fact that he is nearing the end of the road. He is able to bring a subdued quality to his role here, while also proving that he is still in prime physical shape as a performer as he kicks and punches his way through the film’s set-pieces. This is a satisfying and very enjoyable film to watch, and the final moments will be quite poignant for fans of the series.

The Blu-ray also includes three short featurettes (Making Of, The 10-Year Legend and The Story), followed by three different trailers for the film (Trailer A, Trailer B and US Trailer).

Ip Man 4: The Finale is a Well Go USA release. It’s 105 minutes and not rated.

Street Date: April 21st, 2020

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