Ip Man: Kung Fu Master
Yet another Ip Man flick is released and yet again, it struggles to do justice to the rich, historical figure.
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master 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 go on to train Bruce Lee. This latest tale, directed by Li Liming, stars Dennis To as Ip Man, reprising the role from various other movies from the past.
It’s impossible not to make the comparison between this work and the hugely thrilling, not to mention very successful, Wilson Yip’s Ip Man franchise starring Donnie Yen in the titular role. But unfortunately, Ip Man: Kung Fu Master is no Ip Man. Like many, it is a poor imitation trying to capitalise on the other’s popularity. The film is cheesy, cliché and lacks any compelling reason to watch. The story barely exists and the characters are better labelled as caricatures.
Even if you’re just in it for the kung fu, there’s not a whole lot to love about this feature. The fights scenes mostly feel lacklustre, thanks in part to just some silly decisions like massive bruising appearing on people instantly after being punched.
To is perhaps the movie’s saving grace. While not as powerful as Donnie Yen’s portrayal, he is still able to make the role his own and bring some much needed gravitas and presence. In comparison, the rest of the cast plays up to the camera like the whole thing is a pantomime which is all rather off putting.
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master simply misses the mark. And while it may seem unfair to compare it so vigorously with one of the most successful kung fu film franchises in recent decades, it demands it by taking up that mantle. Those searching for great, modern kung fu pictures should stick to the Wilson Yip franchise.
Ip Man: Kung Fu Master is released digitally on demand on 19th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Ip Man: Kung Fu Master here: