May 25, 2020  (Web Review)

Ip Man 4

Well Go USA, 105 min., not rated, in Cantonese w/English subtitles, DVD: $18.74 Blu-ray: $29.99, Apr. 14

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Martial arts movie star Donnie Yen returns to the role of legendary Wing Chun master Ip Man in the fourth and (at least according to the title) final film in the series loosely based on his life. Set in 1964, this film sends Ip Man from Hong Kong to San Francisco, where his student Bruce Lee (played by Danny Kwok-Kwan Chan) competes in an international martial arts tournament. He has been diagnosed with cancer and wants to find a good school to ensure his son’s future, but Ip Man’s search exposes him to the bullying and bigotry that Chinese immigrants and Chinese-American citizens face in 1960s American society. American martial arts star Scott Adkins plays a racist Marine officer who champions the brute force of karate over Chinese martial arts and terrorizes the Chinese community. The conventions may seem overly melodramatic to American audiences and the story takes historical liberties but it is engaging and entertaining. Yen’s stillness and restraint amidst the action endows Ip Man with a¬†quiet dignity and humility, and when he sets free his skills are commanding.¬†Wilson Yip is back as director and Yuen Wo-Ping, the master martial arts action director whose career includes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Matrix movies, choreographs the impressive fight scenes. The Ip Man series was huge in Asia and is popular among martial arts movie fans in the U.S. and this installment offers a fitting conclusion. On Blu-ray and DVD with three short promotional featurettes. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)