As a character study, Ip Man: The Final Fight would be more convincing if it didn’t look so distractingly like a Hollywood musical.
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Wong is such a fine, subtle actor that it comes as a surprise to find him a superb martial artist as well, as he convincingly demonstrates the superiority of Ip Man’s technique over competing schools.
The world may not get another Ip Man film for a while after the last few years, but this one and Wong’s masterpiece should be more than sufficient.
From fawning beginning to maudlin close, it’s a monotonous, wannabe-mythmaking biopic for Ip completists only.
Seriously, if not always elegantly, the film portrays the great Ip Man as someone trying to survive, which is to say just as often a victim as a victor.
This is the rare martial-arts film where the martial arts are tedious and the conversations more compelling.
Not quite a biopic, the film presents an overview of Ip's years in Hong Kong; Anthony Wong's dignified performance begins with the grandmaster almost fully formed.
The overall sense is of a rushed, simplistic installment in a well-worn biography franchise.
The filmmakers fall over themselves trying to respect Man's outlook on life, and this makes their subject seem more like a hyper-disciplined saint than a world-reknowned, ass-kicking hermit.