Ip Man: Master of Kung Fu

Ip Man: Master of Kung Fu | Film critic

April 19, 2021


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yet another Ip-Man the film is out and yet again it struggles to do justice to the wealthy historical figure.

Ip Man: Master of Kung Fu is the latest in a long line of Chinese cinematic attempts to tell the stories of the legendary martial arts grandmaster; the man who would train Bruce Lee. This latest tale, directed by Li Liming, stars Dennis To as Ip Man, reprising the role from various other films of the past.

Impossible not to make the comparison between this work and the very thrilling, not to say very successful, of Wilson Yip Ip-Man franchise starring Donnie Yen in the lead role. But unfortunately, Ip Man: Master of Kung Fu is not Ip-Man. Like many, it’s a poor imitation trying to capitalize on the popularity of the other. The movie is cheesy, cliched, and has no compelling reason to watch it. The story barely exists and the characters are best labeled as caricatures.

Even if you’re only here for the kung fu, there’s not much to like about this feature. The fight scenes mostly look lackluster, thanks in part to a few silly decisions like massive bruises appearing on people instantly after being punched.

To is perhaps the film’s saving grace. While not as powerful as Donnie Yen’s portrayal, he’s still able to make the role his own and bring much-needed gravitas and presence. By comparison, the rest of the cast plays on camera like it’s all a pantomime which is rather off-putting.

Ip Man: Master of Kung Fu simply misses the target. And while it might seem unfair to compare it so vigorously to one of the most successful kung fu movie franchises of decades, it demands it by taking on the role. Those looking for great modern kung fu imagery should stick with the Wilson Yip franchise.

Jim Compton Hall

Ip Man: Master of Kung Fu is published digitally on demand on the 19thand April 2021.

Watch the trailer for Ip Man: Master of Kung Fu here:

Kimberly B. Nguyen