I’m sure all actors wouldn’t mind leaving their own legacy behind, so it must mean even more when they’re portraying someone else’s. Donnie Yen has now played the historic Grandmaster Yip Man — Wing Chun master and Bruce Lee mentor — three times, and if Ip Man 3 is the finale, it sure does send the series out on a high (flying) note.
It certainly helps that director Wilson Yip has directed all three entries, so Yen and Yip have amazing director/actor chemistry. Yip knows how to shoot an action scene and Yen knows how to perform it. Kudos to bringing in renowned choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (The Matrix trilogy, both Kill Bills, Kung Fu Hustle, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) in place of the already fantastic Sammo Hung because Ip Man 3 comes with enough action to make any your head spin.
In 1959, we catch up with Ip Man trying to keep a low profile with his wife Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung) and youngest son Ip Ching in Hong Kong. When he’s not keeping his son out of trouble for fighting in school, he spends his time practicing on a wooden dummy while turning down Bruce Lee (Danny Chan) whom Ip Man doesn’t think is ready.
After Ip Ching gets into a fight with son of Cheung Tin-chi (Zhang Jin), Ip Man stumbles upon henchmen — led by Ma King-sang (Patrick Tam) — beating the headmaster to get him to sell the school to Frank (Mike Tyson). Frank runs a black market boxing ring and with no help from the local police, Ip Man must join forces with Tin-chi to take Frank down, all while dealing with his wife’s battle with cancer, and Tin-chi wanting to force him into a duel to declare the ultimate grandmaster.
Well Go USA may have finally switched things up with a 50GB disc here, but it still comes with one of their main culprits in tact: banding. While detail and resolution are top notch as always, that blasted banding finally makes its way into the picture — even if not until about the third act. Until then, blacks are deep and inky while colors and contrast are completely lifelike even if there is a hint of color grading verging on the yellow side. Aside from the occasional banding, no other anomalies come up, with aliasing and crush non-existent.
And speaking of upgrades, the disc size was probably to help on the audio front. Ip Man 3 features a spectacular Cantonese DTS:X mix — defaulted to a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio for myself — that assaults the senses every chance it gets. Deep bass keeps the punches rumbling with perfect surround pans and exceptional directionality. With all the action, dialogue is never lost in the shuffle and the quieter scenes even make great use of the surrounds for complete ambience. Additional audio tracks include 5.1 English, Spanish, and French DTS-HD, along with the same languages for the subtitles.
The special features are a little on the lax side considering this is (supposedly) the final chapter in the Yen/Ip Man saga. A two part EPK “Making Of” is divided into two parts: “The Story” (2:29) and “Action” (2:52). A collection of interviews shed light on the production, story, and action: “Donnie Yen” (6:04), “Mike Tyson” (7:27), “Press Day” (5:27), and “Director” (9:05). There’s also an extremely brief “Behind the Scenes” (2:19) and things are rounded out with the film’s “Teaser” (1:19), “Trailer” (2:07), and “International Trailer” (1:03).
Ip Man 3 may feature a lot of drama, but action fans should know what they’re in for: bone crushing, high flying action of the first order. Yip, Woo-ping, and Yen create a perfect yang that keeps the film moving along — so long as you aren’t watching it after a long week of work. I did have to go back and rewatch a few scenes in the middle; ironically where a few of the best action scenes were. If there’s one drawback, it’s that you can tell the film was shot in 3D and we are not so lucky to get that version stateside. However, with another top notch transfer and demo worthy audio, Ip Man 3 is a no brainer for fans of the series, or anyone who loves them some Donnie Yen. This is an action purchase you won’t be sorry about.