Ip Man: Kung Fu Master (2019) - China
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Another lesser cash-in due to the current release of the real deal “Ip Man 4” comes a better effort than the atrocious “Ip Man and the Four Kings”. Dennis To stars in the headline role as Ip Man, and is for most of the film at ease with the heavily burdened role. Having successfully played a bit part in the original Ip Man sequels as well as the younger version of the master in the average “Legend is Born - Ip Man” almost a decade ago. Not much have changed, To is still stoic as ever, aged a little, but not enough in terms of acting display. While, Yen gives the role a full range of controlled maturity and depth to the Ip Man’s character and story, To gives a shallow version of the man.
Dennis To tries hard and impresses in all the fight scenes which underpins his years of training in Wing Chun. To is excellent whenever a fight scene is called upon and fail when he is required to act and emote. It’s a shame as one would expect after a decade in showbiz, To may well have improved. Michael Wong appears in a short lived but scene stealing cameo, meanwhile, Action director Sun Fei shows a lot of promise in making this VOD release like cinematic Kung Fu in full flight. Sun is easily one to watch for future action flicks.
All in all, “Ip Man: Kung Fu Master” excels in all the fight scenes from start to finish, but comes up short in the story and acting department. It is certainly an upgrade of Michael Tong’s portrayal of Ip Man, but far from Donnie Yen and the class of Tony Leung Chiu Wai’s adaptation. Still, for a VOD experience, the amount of details and effort that went into the fight sequences should be complimented. It could have been a lot worse, but it is really not.
I rated it 7/10