Not just your typical kung fu action flick

Featuring

Anthony Wong as Grandmaster Ip Man
Zhang Songwen as his son, Grandmaster Ip Chun
Anita Yuen as his wife, Cheung Wing-sing
Zhou Chuchu as Jenny
and a special cameo appearance from Ip Chun

While Bruce Lee was a legend of martial arts worldwide, little attention was paid to who he learned his initial style – Wing Chun – from. Later, he would of course adapt what he had learned into Jeet Kune Do which shares some of its basic tenets with Wing Chun. But Bruce Lee’s original sifu, Yip Man (actually how it’s pronounced) has now finally gotten some attention in movies and he’s been played by a few actors, some famous and some not so much. The first movies about him, imaginatively titled Ip Man and Ip Man 2 were only very very loosely based on his character but had big name casts like Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung and The Grandmaster (similarly with big name cast members such as Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung) was very artsy and film noir but terribly plotted and took just as many liberties with the life of Yip Man as Donnie Yen’s efforts.

Enter The Final Fight. The movie is more of a retrospective on the later years of Yip Man’s life in Hong Kong, from the late 1940s until his passing in 1972. The film probably tries to cover too many aspects of the philosophy of Yip Man and life in general in Hong Kong. At the time, China was recovering from the devastation of World War 2, principally against the Japanese as well as the Civil War that followed soon after. Even though the movie focuses on Yip Man’s life in Hong Kong, that city had its own issues and unrest and many people were struggling for money and made some really desperate decisions as Hong Kong was hardly the bustling financial capital of Asia during that period of time as it is now.

One good thing are the small details shown in the film. For a start, Yip Man’s pupils are actually shown to be good at martial arts and actually generally kick arse, as evidenced by most of the fight scenes they’re involved in. We also see that Anthony Wong has replicated a fairly good western Pearl River Delta accent in order to play Yip Man. For those not familiar with Cantonese as a spoken dialect, there are many accents and differing pronunciations of words to it and many of the residents of mid 20th century Hong Kong in the film carry lilts and twangs from various parts of China. It’s awesome and refreshing to try to capture that kind of realism.

Ultimately, The Final Fight is not your typical kung fu action movie. Yes, there are fight scenes in it, but they’re not what I’d call spectacular compared to some other movies that have come before. The movie is about Yip Man’s philosophy on life as well as being semi-biographical in nature and trying to capture the essence of living in post war Hong Kong where corruption and poverty was rife. If you’re after action, go and watch Donnie Yen’s take on Yip Man. If you want visually spectacular but not realistic, watch The Grandmaster. If you want authenticity and great acting from one of Hong Kong’s best, watch The Final Fight.

Rating

The Grand Master himself would be proud.

Should I watch this?

Yes. But don’t expect all out action. It’s a biographical movie with SOME fighting, not an action movie.

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