Art, Entertainment

Movie Review: Ip Man 3 is a high-end but throwback kung-fu movie that totally could have played at the Garfield Theatre

Ip Man 3 is a high-end but throwback kung-fu movie that totally could have screened at the old Garfield Theatre back in the day. The third and final epic featuring Donnie Yen as Bruce Lee’s legendary wushu teacher takes place in 1950s Hong Kong and features Cantonese dialogue and goofy bad guys with British accents. The fighting is old-school, too, with human bodies flying everywhere instead of CG ones. Where’s the concession stand selling shrimp chips and tea in Styrofoam cups when you need it?

Fans of the first two movies will once again be glad that Yen carries out understated acting (which befits the title character’s hyper reserved demeanor) and badass martial arts (which seem downright civilized compared to the beast-like power of Max Zhang). And, like everyone else, they’ll wonder how the hell Mike Tyson wound up in the movie.

After you get over Iron Mike being part of the story, speaking in his usual squeaky voice and not even bothering to cover his facial tattoos, he actually isn’t that distracting. The other bad guys are just as cartoonish (the Thai dude in Street Fighter pajamas, for example) and the ex-champ actually has a few endearing moments as well as an awesome fight scene.

More puzzling are the overlapping plots. There’s real estate chicanery, terrorizing an elementary school, and child slavery. And then there’s the struggle to be the number-one in the world of wushu. The latter seems petty after the former, but maybe that’s the point. The weird tonal shift might jar unseasoned, mainstream action movie dudes but anyone who used to watch Wong Jing’s disjointed swordsman movies in the ’90s will just roll with it.

Somewhat tying everything together is our hero’s relationship with his wife. The grandmaster is as clueless when it comes to women as he is fearless about protecting the Chinese citizens from the European colonists, and their story might be even more devastating than all the fighting. Wilson Yip and Yuen Woo-Ping’s great-looking, fast-moving flick is still more dudeworthy than dateworthy, but there’s actually heart in there somewhere.

Go see Ip Man 3 at AMC Atlantic Times Square, AMC Puente Hills 20, Laemmle Playhouse 7 or another movie theater near you!

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