Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

December 12, 2013

Movie Review: Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013, Blu-ray)

Review By: Rob Sibley

Quick history lesson for anyone who isn't familar with Ip Man. Long story short his was the man who taught Wing Chun to Bruce Lee. 

IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT is the fifth film thus far to tell the story of Ip. The first two starred Donnie Yen as a middle aged Ip. They were excellent pictures but they were focused on amazing action set pieces choreographed by Sammo Hung then they were on telling an accurate story of the real life Ip.

After the first two Ip Men films with Donnie Yen were huge hits world wide it was only a matter of time before more Ip films were to follow. Donnie had no interest in returning to make a third film since he figured he couldn't top Part II (He was right). So director Herman Yau, known for his CAT III films such as Untold Story and Ebola Syndrome stepped in to make "The Legend Is Born". The third in the series which starred Dennis To as a slightly younger Ip. It was an alright fight flick but nothing special.

We then had the fourth film, the biggest budgeted one of them all. "The Grandmaster" directed by one of the best living Asian directors Wong Kar Wai (Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, 2046). The film had  Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung as Ip and also had the beautiful Ziyi Zhang (Hero) as the film's heroin. It was your typical style over substance, beautifully shot film that you'd expect from Leung. Not reality based in the least, but it certainly was the most romanticized take on Ip.

 Now we have the fifth film to deal with the man. For "The Final Fight" Herman Yau returned to direct. Along with him he brought Anthony Wong. A man he's worked with countless times on his gangster pictures and his CAT III films.

Anthony Wong is one of the hardest working actors in Hong Kong. He takes his craft very seriously and hates the lime light. He even spent over a year studying Wing Chun for this film. Obviously the biggest difference with this film is that it tells the tale of Ip's golden years.

This film could have been a great opportunity to explore post war Hong Kong, and to do more of a character study. But sadly this was a missed opportunity and a rather ho-hum film.No doubt Anthony Wong is one of my favorite actors and he does an admirle job as Master Ip. But the screenplay is incredibly weak and trite with cliches.

Yes Ip Man is challenged by a rival Kung Fu school, yes this leads to dealing with Triads. Yes we get your usual protestors and rioters in the film as well (this is post war HK mind you). Also yes the film is very anti-Japanese but that comes with the territory.Since the film is filled with forgettable characters, no Simon Yam from Ip Man 1 and no Sammo Hung as the baddie in Ip Man 2. With "Final Fight", we are left with no big foe for Ip to overcome. A hero is only as good as the villain. The villains are just a bunch of faceless triads.

The biggest problem with the film despite it's pacing are the action sequences themselves. I'd hate to say it but Anthony Wong's year long training in the art of Wing Chung was wasted. This is due to the poorly choreographed fight sequences. Virtually every punch or kick is telegraphed before hand. The editing is sloppy, it's almost as if the editors and the stunt men didn't believe in Wong's fighting abilities so they decided to do plenty of quick cuts and slow the action down.

This is a film that tries to force heart string pulling drama down your throat as well. It doesn't work, the entire film doesn't work. When the end credits you are left with the impression that an amazing actor (Wong) gave a great performance in a mediocre movie at best.

Herman Yau is a very talented director and he's still got it, check out his recent "The Woman Knight Of Mirror Lake" as an example.They say a camel is a horse made by a comity, this film is certainly a camel then if you catch my drift. I feel Yau was given restrictions, it also looks like the film had a very small budget to work with. The sets look way to clean for the time period.

The best part of the film comes in form of real footage of master Ip practicing on a wooden man. That footage lasts for about four seconds and is the only memorable thing about this film. It's a film that really was only made to cash in on The Ip Man craze and it wasted the talents of both Wong and Yau.

Now the Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA is a different story. As always Well Go presents their films in outstanding transfers and this one is no different. The film was shot in an interesting 2.38:1 aspect ratio and is presented in a glamerious 1080P transfer. Detail is very high and it's a colorful film. Only problem is the transfer is so pristine that it really shows off the bad CGI, costumes that look way to "new" and the sets that you can tell were being filmed on when the paint was still drying.

The audio is nice as well. You get DTS-HD 5.1 audio tracks in both Cantonese and English. Only with some 2.0 tracks. Obviously the Cantonese track is the one to go with. The dubbed track is one of the worst dub tracks I've heard in years, I'm talking late 80's dubbed Jackie Chan dubbing bad.

Extra's we get your usual from Well Go, a 10 minute making of and about 20 minutes of cast and crew interviews. Honestly none of this is really worth watching.

I wanted to love this movie, I adore Anthony Wong as an actor and I loved the previous four Ip man movies. But this film doesn't work, it doesn't contain enough action to satisfy fight fans, it doesn't have enough heart to please drama fans... it's a film that should have never been made. Herman Yau is better then this, so is Wong. Skip this even if you are a die hard Wong or Ip Man fan like myself. You will only leave disappointed and 20 bucks broker. 

No comments:

Post a Comment