Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
One of Kung Fu cinema greatest figure “Ip Man” finally takes a curtain closure in a fitting finale to a sensational film series spanning more than a decade. It is also to be the final kung fu film for International superstar Donnie Yen in the original film that launched him into superstardom and beyond. The rest is almost history as one of the biggest and anticipated film of the year, “Ip Man 4” shows the how to perfectly craft an emotional closure that is often more important than the actual story on display. Once again, the fight scenes takes centre stage, but it is the aging and Cancer stricken Ip Man that makes the ride more incredible and inspiring. Director Wilson Yip and martial arts director Yuen Woo Ping balances the necessary details with the fanfare of Bruce Lee and crafting a side story of father and child into a patriotic story in times of change and difficulty for Chinese in America back in the 1960s.
Donnie Yen is absolutely perfect once again for a career defining character of Ip Man. Yen is the epiphany of a stoic yet a presence that few can surpass in a film full of colourful characters and yet Yen emerges at the forefront. As Ip Man, Yen is given a role that requires him to play to his strengths, riding of his over the top and often overacting emotions, Yen plays a deeper character of a man so wise with foresight and an invincibility aura around him. Ably supported by Wu Yue playing Master Wan as the president of Chinese Association in Chinatown shows the importance standing up for your community in face of adversity and racism. Perhaps the highlight of the film goes to the chemistry between Yen and Wan’s young daughter Yonah (Vanda Margraf), as it allows Ip Man to reflect upon his own son and situation. Danny Kwan is Bruce Lee without stealing the show from the main man, meanwhile Kent Cheng is hilarious and provides the rare laughs and lighter hearted tone. Seeing Scott Adkins playing the ultra racist Marine general fight with Yen is almost comedy gold.
All in all, “Ip Man 4” is full of plot holes and definitely processes less of a story than its previous films. However, the film excels in creating a fitting and emotional finale as we reflect upon the life of Ip Man as well as Yen as an actor over the past three decades. Perhaps it is Yen’s final Kung fu film, but with so much at stakes, “Ip Man 4” passes with flying colours with plenty of character and heart in between as well. We will miss Ip Man the character, the man and the legacy.
I rated it 8/10