We’re just two weeks away from the long-awaited debut of Wilson Yip’s “Ip Man 4: The Finale”, (dropping on 25th December) with the movie’s subtitle being significant in more ways than one. Not only will it mark the final installment of the “Ip Man” franchise, but it will also mark Donnie Yen’s kung fu movie swan song. With so much worldwide anticipation for it already, “Ip Man 4: The Finale” is bound to be a bittersweet affair for martial arts fans across the globe.
The latest trailer offers one more glimpse at what fans can expect going into “Ip Man 4”, namely the first ever big-screen meeting of Donnie Yen and Scott Adkins. Though there had previously been some unrealized hope of that finally coming to pass with 2012’s “The Expendables 2”, Scott boarding “Ip Man 4” was officially announced in the best way possible,with the two posting a picture to social media holding the script for the film. With Scott having risen to become one of the greatest martial arts action stars of all-time right alongside Donnie, his appearance in “Ip Man 4” further puts how big a deal the series has been into perspective.
A brief look back over the series
Aside from Donnie Yen taking on the iconic role of Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun mentor, the “Ip Man” movies have also been part of the highlight reel of many incredible martial arts masters. The original “Ip Man” paired Donnie alongside Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Fan Siu-Wong, and former Shaolin disciple Shi Yan Neng. “Ip Man 2” brought back Fan Siu-Wong while giving his role a complete makeover, while also bringing in Sammo Hung (who had previously served as action director on the first film) along with an unforgettable villainous turn from the late Darren Shahlavi.
Ip Man 3” raised the bar even higher, pulling in famed Bruce Lee-lookalike Danny Chan to portray the man himself, while also enlisting heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson in a superb match-up. The series would also create its other great break out character with Ip Man’s main opponent in the film, Cheung Tin-chi, played by Max Zhang, who would subsequently be spun-off into his own solo film, “Master Z: Ip Man Legacy“. The series and Donnie Yen’s portrayal of Ip Man have also been responsible for spreading interest in Wing Chun across the globe, and heading into the fourth film, the series’ opening theme readily engenders a familiar, iconic recognition.
In announcing his retirement from kung fu film, Donnie has spoken of the need to continue evolving as an actor, stating:
“As an actor, you must keep going forward…This is something that I must do in life; I must keep exploring to grow”, while further elaborating, “This is the meaning of life, so I am very grateful that “Ip Man 4: The Finale” is my final kung fu movie. I hope it can be written on a valuable page in Chinese film history, and I will continue my journey as an actor.
Donnie would also express gratitude for the reception the series has enjoyed saying:
“A movie series typically doesn’t have more than two sequels because it tends to go downhill by the third film. But the first three Ip Man movies were loved by everyone. I believe people won’t be disappointed this time either.”
It is undeniable that the “Ip Man” series has become one of the most significant and beloved martial arts movie franchises of all-time, and will forever hold a place in the hearts of action fans around the world right along series bearing such martially household names as “The Karate Kid“, “Ong Bak“, “Undisputed“, “Best of the Best“, and “The Raid“. Action lovers and the meaning of martial arts, both internal and external, will forever be in Donnie Yen’s debt for his iconic portrayal of Ip Man and work as an ambassador for Wing Chun (and MMA). We should all take a moment to remember this when “Ip Man 4: The Finale” arrives over the holiday season.