Join Soundtrack Stream to Research the article “Ip Man 4 review – kung fu master gives America a kicking | Action and adventure films”
Donnie Yen returns for his last coolly impassive outing as the real-life Chinese martial artist and wing chun master Ip Man, who trained generations of kung fu students, Bruce Lee being the most famous.
In this final, faintly solemn episode, Ip is a widower, growing old, and has been given a diagnosis of cancer. We see him leave Hong Kong and make a journey to the United States in the 1960s (where his great student Lee is already making a name for himself) on a mission to find a private school for his tearaway young son. (In fact, the real Ip made no such journey.)
Ip finds a great deal of anti-Chinese racism from white Americans, and from his fellow Chinese he finds hostility and resentment towards Lee for teaching wing chun to foreigners.
On a nearby marine corps camp, the military have a profound suspicion of kung fu, preferring the all-American practice of karate – the film leaves it to us to notice the irony of espousing something Japanese, although it’s weirdly not clear if we’re supposed to notice it.
Finally, Ip Man, although ailing and no longer young, is asked to face off with an overbearing racist bully: gunner sergeant Geddes, played by the British martial arts star Scott Adkins. Quite a contest.
Given that a fair amount of creative licence has been exercised here, it is strange that Bruce Lee has such a small part to play: a cameo at the karate contest at the beginning, a chat with Ip, but then he recedes into the shadows. Perhaps the movie can’t handle more than one martial arts legend at a time. It would be like bringing Miss Marple into a Hercule Poirot story.
• Ip Man 4 is released in Australia on 20 December and in the UK and the US on 25 December.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Ip Man 4 review – kung fu master gives America a kicking | Action and adventure films