by R.C. Samo
Hong Kong cinema has been decades advanced American film making, in storytelling and action sequences. The story of Sifu Ip Man (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang), Wing Chun Grandmaster, who survives in post World War II China. A man of honor, integrity and because of boarder blockades, separating him from his wife, forcing him to live a near monastic lifestyle as he takes pupils under his wing and train them in China’s most dangerous and elegant martial art.
In this version of one of China’s most famous martial arts Grandmasters and instructor to Bruce Lee, Chau-Sang, balances beautifully the martial vs the art as he must face challenges of Kung Fu fighters, triad crime lords all in the shadow of an economically struggling China as it attempts to rebuild following the war.
Director Herman Yau, has a way of turning the simplest shot into a breathtaking masterpiece. The camera is his brush as the set, his canvas. Yau captures the spirit of Wing Chun, through close quarters fight scenes, no larger than 6 feet of distance between the combatants, while teaching various principles of mercy, compassion and compromise through non-violent means, only to use force as a last resort.
One of the greatest movies of 2013, that few Americans will bring themselves to see because of the subtitles or lack of advertising, Ip Man: The Final Fight, is at its core, a relationship between students and teachers, fathers and children, the martial way and the artist. Beautiful, charming, heart wrenching and the idealized view of how through Wing Chun, inner peace can be achieved.