IP MAN 4: THE FINALE (2019)
Starring Donnie Yen, Wu Yue, Vanness Wu, Scott Adkins, Kent Cheng, Danny Chan, Vanda Margraf, Chris Collins, Jim Liu. Directed by Wilson Yip. (106 min)
ON BLU-RAY FROM WELL GO USA
Review by Tiger the Terrible😸
In the past, Donnie Yen has said previous Ip Man sequels would be the last. He’s also saying it about Ip Man 4, and considering the subtitle, he might mean it this time. On the other hand, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was followed by six more films, so never say never.
But unlike other franchises that don’t know when to quit, the Ip Man films have all been solid, entertaining films with impeccable action sequences and engaging characters, including the recent spin-off, Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy. There’s supposedly a sequel to that one in the works – like I said, never say never – but if Ip Man 4 indeed ends up being the last film in the franchise, it’s going out on a high note.
This one has a plot that’s all over the map, but in a nutshell, Ip Man (Yen) has inoperable cancer, so he travels to San Francisco to find a suitable boarding school for his troubled teenage son. However, he must have approval from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, which he doesn’t initially get because the chairman, Wan Zong-hua (Wu Yue) resents how Ip’s most famous pupil, Bruce Lee (Danny Chan), has “Americanized” martial arts.
Meanwhile, Wan’s daughter, Tonah (Vanda Margraf), defends herself from a local bully and is ultimately rescued by Ip. The conflict escalates when the bully’s father, Andrew Walters – an INS officer – seeks to deport everyone in the Benevolent Association.
|Donnie practices social distancing.|
While all that’s going on, one of Lee’s students, Marine staff sergeant Hartman Wu (Vanness Wu), runs afoul of his jingoist commander, Sergeant Geddes (Scott Adkins), by trying to include martial arts in military training. Geddes retaliates by having his own karate champion not-only kick Wu’s ass, but take a team into Chinatown to beat-down everyone in the Benevolent Association (yes, Geddes is in kahoots with Walters).
When all these concurrent conflicts converge, it’s Ip Man to the rescue. Some of these situations verge on ridiculous, as is the character of Geddes (played with over-the-top aplomb by Adkins). But overall, the movie is undeniably fun and loaded with incredible fight scenes. Yen is his own special effect and, despite being 56, his physical skills remain jawdropping. And once again, he soars above most of his peers because he also happens to be a terrific actor. When he isn’t snapping limbs, Yen makes Ip Man someone we care about.
The film ends on a poignant note that’ll likely tug the hearts of anyone who’s enjoyed the franchise. And if it is truly the final chapter – certainly the last to feature Donnie Yen – Ip Man 4: The Finale is a satisfying, action-packed conclusion to the entire saga.
3 PROMOTIONAL FEATURETTES
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.