Truly a finale, and certainly not a bad one at that.
Yes the culmination of this series and it really was the boost I needed this week. I heard originally that this was going to get a release in the States, but for the life of me I didn't see it anywhere even at the theaters who show foreign films, so I had to wait for it to hit video. And I must say this is the most Ip Man movie of them all, basically combining all the elements of the previous three movies into one which kinda makes sense seeing as how each subsequent movie took elements from the last and continued building upon them in original ways. So this film starts in the early 60s with Ip Man living with his teenage son and travelling to America to seek better tuition for him, as he meets various masters of different schools and gets entangled in the events with their students and rival martial artists from a marines base. That's the basic gist, and follows true to the feel of the Ip Man series with good character progression, excellent choreography, and a basic but still engrossing story. I must give major commendations to the writers, they really got every main and side character and had all of them tie together through the story in some fashion or another, they all have their place and all help progress the events of the film. That's impressive, and the cast is once again really good with particular love going to Yue Wu and Vanda Margraf, one of the masters of a school and his teenage daughter respectively. They had damn good chemistry and their story runs parallel in some ways more than others to Master Ip, they were the standouts besides of course Donnie Yen. Yeah, it breaks my heart this is the last film but I can't imagine what it's like for Donnie to have the great privilege to bring this man's work and story to life and to see it to the very end. I know the movies have been decent hits here in America but I seriously hope it garners more attention and love, but then again for a movie series that has spanned for over a decade and has sent waves through western civilization is still pretty incredible regardless of the size of that wave. I was completely happy with the ending of the series, most people would argue it's just martial arts fluff but that is so not the case for this series, it's as much about the characters as the fighting, I mean it's personified in the fact that while Ip Man is a martial artist he does not go looking for a fight but fights to help others. I really enjoyed seeing the follow up to essentially the first film as we see Bruce Lee has introduced chinese martial arts to the masses and Ip Man sees that as a good thing while the other masters don't. You really see a mix of both China and America in this film from both sides, some people are against such things but it works out in the end. I read reviews of this film and the sheer balls some people had to practically shriek this is chinese propaganda made me want to consecutively strike their kidneys 50 times, I mean are you f***ing kidding me? I cannot begin to tell you how fundamentaly wrong that statement is, that's being as closed minded as the marine instructor and karate team in this movie who think chinese martial arts is bullshit but karate is superior. Okay yes, China is not the founder of the martial arts we know today, they learned it from Okinawa in the 17th century and mastered it for 300 years before even introducing it to Japan but for the love of all that is good, karate ain't american or superior so what in the hell are you on? It's practically a chinese fighting style! How is one okay but the other laughable? Not all fighting styles are equal no matter what the region is, but there's also not such a thing as a perfect fighting style. Wing Chun is not superior or equal to karate or boxing, just like something such as UFC fighting is not the same or superior to boxing. And the moral stance on villifying americans or more specifically white people is absurd, because clearly only white people have picked fights in this series. For God's sake. I just...I can't, why must I share a planet with this much stupid? Ugh, bloody hell. Bottom line, I very much liked this movie, it was a good ending to a movie series that didn't get to be a total disgrace of an overstretched franchise. If I had to rank the films based on pure memory alone, because I actually did not marathon all the movies I would say, second movie is the best, then the third, then the first, then the fourth. It doesn't make this a bad movie by any stretch, because it all comes down to opinions and that's my two cents on the matter. 4 stars, 8/10, this is a very rare circumstance but this is a very strong tetrology.