The year is 1959, where Ip Man lives in Hong Kong with his wife and his younger son. Trouble arises when a corrupt property developer and his thugs terrorize the school where Ip Man’s son goes to.
Ip Man and his disciples have to help the police guard the school day and night. On the other hand, Ip Man (phim hanh dong vo thuat) has to deal with his wife’s terminal sickness. And at the same time faces a challenge from another Wing Chun fighter who ambitiously seeks to claim the Wing Chun Grandmaster title.
Proof that typical Western franchise concerns are paid just as much mind by Chinese production studios, Ip Man 3 (Diep Van 3) is like the Spider-man 3 of kung-fu movies: At once overstuffed and under-ambitious, the film boasts a procession of set pieces and villains that tend to distract from its central figure’s evolution as a fighter and a person.
This latest, and likely last, installment of director Wilson Yip and producer Raymond Wong’s populist action-historical saga opts, poignantly, for a less nationalistic tone, one more actively critical of colonialist corruption in a British-occupied Hong Kong. Once again, Donnie Yen (Chung Tu Don) plays Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man. This series’s Peter Parker and Spidey rolled into one: a hero, a bit of a nerd, a romantic. And a moral compass to guide a nation’s eroding understanding of heroism.