WONG KAR-WAI'S The Grandmaster—albeit in edited form—opened in Portland a few weeks ago. You can still find it in theaters, and those with a modicum of internet savvy can track down the original edit. Loosely inspired by the life of wing chun kung fu teacher Ip Man, The Grandmaster is impressive and soulful and exciting. It also came on the heels of two other movies glorifying Ip Man, both starring Donnie Yen; thanks to a lighter tone, those are good too! And now here's another Ip Man movie: Ip Man: The Final Fight. If Wong Kar-wai's film turned Ip Man into an art-house brooder, and Donnie Yen's turned him into an action hero, then Herman Yau's Ip Man: The Final Fight (itself a sequel to The Legend Is Born: Ip Man, ANOTHER Ip Man movie I didn't even have a chance to mention earlier) is the movie that turns Ip Man into somebody really, really boring. Also, here's a drinking game for this review! Drink every time I have to type "Ip Man"!
On the upside, Ip Man: The Final Fight takes a slightly different approach than China's 4,000 other Ip Man movies, spending time on the social unrest that surrounds Ip Man as he teaches wing chun in the 1950s. On the downside, Yau's reach far exceeds his grasp, and The Final Fight is depressingly cheap and janky—visually, tonally, emotionally. (While any movie following a Wong Kar-wai joint is starting at a disadvantage, it's impossible to imagine the lifeless The Final Fight faring well in comparison to pretty much anything.) Even star Anthony Wong, of the Infernal Affairs trilogy and Johnnie To's Vengeance, can't do much; his Ip Man is mostly relegated to staring at the middle distance and saying some platitudes.
Also, "Final Fight" my ass. By the time China invades America sometime around 2025, I predict they'll have exported at least 74 more Ip Man movies. Drink!