‘Ip Man 4: The Finale’ review: Donnie Yen’s last kung fu movie is one of his best

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The legendary martial arts teacher goes to America to meet his pupil Bruce Lee, and find a school for his son

Jamie Lam |
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Donnie Yen battles Wu Yue in 'Ip Man 4'.

Ip Man 4: The Finale marks the end of Donnie Yen’s journey as the iconic kung fu master. Though it doesn’t stray too far from the Ip Man formula, the film is a satisfying conclusion to the series that has given us some of the best martial arts fight sequences ever.

After his son is expelled for fighting, Wing Chun master Ip Man travels to San Francisco in the hopes of finding a suitable school for him in America. After he saves the daughter of a prominent Chinese community leader from bullies, Ip Man is unwillingly drawn into a dispute with a racist US Marine commander. Can the peaceful and principled martial artist prevail once more against overwhelming odds?

Kung fu fans looking for more spectacular fight scenes won’t be disappointed. His showdown with Chinese Benevolent Association president Wan Zong-hua (Wu Yue) is another master class in action choreography, and showcases both the Wing Chun and Tai Chi styles wonderfully.

Bruce Lee (Danny Chan), Ip Man’s most famous pupil, also makes an appearance and the audience is treated to a cool sequence of his unique fighting style.

Yen also gets the chance to do more than beat down dudes. In an important side plot, Ip Man learns to be a better parent by acting as a father figure to Wan Zong-hua’s daughter Yonah (Vanda Margarf). After seeing shades of his own heavy-handed behaviour in Wan, he realises he may not have been fair to his son.

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The cinematography in Ip Man 4 is great as usual, with every shot framed beautifully and colour corrected to have that signature vintage look. The attention to detail in the set is nicely done as well, with time-appropriate props and vehicles making the film look authentic to the 1960s America it is supposed to portray.

Yen has publicly stated that Ip Man 4 is his final kung fu film. If this is true, the film serves as a fitting farewell to his incredible contributions to the genre.

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