Ip Man was a Grand Master of Wing Chun kung fu, and the legendary trainer of Bruce Lee. There have been various movies made about him, but the Ip Man trilogy starring Donnie Yen as Ip Man, while dramatized and not overly accurate historically, are the best of the films about his life simply on an entertainment level.
Donnie Yen is a well known entity in Asian action films, but I feel like he’s never quite achieved the same level of recognition that some of the other greats of the martial arts world have. While he’s a decent actor, it’s his martial arts skills that really set him apart. Both stunningly fast and incredibly precise in his movements, his fight choreography is first rate, and watching it is almost a magical experience. The one thing that detracts from the realism of the fight scenes in this films however is the use of wire work for some of the jumping and related movements. It’s not overly prevalent, especially in the third film, but to me it feels out of place when they were so exacting about the rest of the fight choreography.
I’ve seen Donnie Yen in other films that I’ve reviewed, but in my opinion, this was the perfect role for him. He plays it with a calmness and a confidence that the role called for if they were going to sell him to an audience as the legendary martial arts master.
Ip Man: The Complete Collection from Well Go USA includes Ip Man (2008), Ip Man 2 (2011), and Ip Man 3 (2015), as well as a bonus disc with two hours worth of interviews about Ip Man 3. Each film has its own strong and weak points, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the weak points of Ip Man 3, simply because of the three films, while it had some of the most amazing fight scenes…it also had Mike Tyson. Yes, you read that right. Mike Tyson plays an underworld type who runs an underground fighting ring, and he wants to take over the school that Ip Man’s son goes to so that he can complete some plan he has that’s never really spelled out in the film.
Now to be fair, Mike Tyson was ok, but what the hell was a big black guy doing in China in 1959 running a criminal organization? He was as out of place as a turd in a punch bowl. Not just because he didn’t belong there, but that voice… My god that voice! Hearing him lisp out his lines in that high pitched voice of his was sort of a surreal experience, but nothing was more surreal than hearing him throwing in a word or phrase in Chinese. I can only imagine how hilarious it must be for Chinese audiences to hear him pronouncing those words with his lisp. That said, he wasn’t too awful bad in the role, and he actually had a really fast paced and exciting fight scene with Donnie Yen.
The other comical thing in the third film was a corrupt British police captain who spoke in a voice and with an accent that made him sound like a cartoon version of a British upper class snob.
Bruce Lee is introduced in the second film as a kid, and in the third film as an adult. The thing is, even though Ip Man trained him, he never trains him in the films. I think mostly he was just thrown in as a cameo simply out of an obligation to do so since he didn’t have anything to do with the story. Bruce Lee actually studied under him in 1953 at the age of 13, though the films make it appear as though Bruce Lee was an adult before Ip Man accepted him for training. This is just a part of why I said the movies aren’t historically accurate.
Each of the films in this release has its own special features, including interviews, making of documentaries, trailers, deleted scenes, and a look behind the scenes. The quality is excellent, which is what you can always expect from Well Go USA releases, and the addition of a bonus disc full of interviews make this a collection you’ll definitely want to own. Even though they’re not historically accurate, they are exciting, and even tear jerking at times. What more could you ask for?
If you’d like to find out more about this collection, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here: http://www.wellgousa.com/ip-man-trilogy