This holiday season, Santa Claus has decided to drop the perfect gift down the chimney of every martial arts enthusiast across the globe – “Ip Man 3”! Donnie Yen makes his long awaited return to the iconic role of the legendary Grandmaster of Wing Chun and mentor to the young Bruce Lee. This time, he’s joined by acclaimed fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, former World Heavyweight Boxing champion Mike Tyson, Max Zhang of “SPL 2” fame, and renowned Bruce Lee doppelganger Danny Chan as Ip Man’s most famous student.
The film is set to make its world premiere in London on Christmas Eve, with a wide UK release on January 15th, followed by a U.S. release on January 22nd. The anticipation for Ip Man’s return is absolutely electrifying, so to mark this momentous occasion, we thought we’d take a look back at the first two films and (in descending order) countdown the Top 10 Ip Man fight scenes so far, enjoy!
10. Ip Man vs Master Liu
The first “Ip Man” hooks you from the start with a short but mind-blowing private match between our hero and a fellow kung fu master. There’s no bad blood between Ip Man and his opponent, but simply two fighters engaging in a sparring match to compare techniques and improve their respective skills. Ip Man is even good enough to keep the outcome of the duel a secret so his opponent can save face – that’s how you build bridges!
9. Ip Man vs Wong Leung
Our title character wasn’t the only great mentor the young Bruce Lee found in his Wing Chun studies. There was also his fellow Grandmaster Wong Shun-leung, who makes his first appearance in the series as one of Ip Man’s many challengers. Like number 10, it’s a quick little burst of action early on in the film, and gets the audience fully prepared for the cascade of kung fu that’s in store for them as the film unfolds.
8. The Cotton Mill fight
Ip Man has had to contend with Master Jin Shanzhao and his gang throughout the film, but it all comes to a head in the battle at the Cotton Mill. Our hero’s skill with weaponry bursts forth when he pulls out a bamboo pole to hold off the entire gang at once. It’s also at this point that we find out that Jin isn’t a true villain, but ultimately, a man just trying to use his kung fu skills to survive – albeit in precisely the wrong way, and it’s up to Ip Man to direct him to the right way!
7. Ip Man vs Hung Gar gang
Watching the Ip Man movies, it quickly becomes clear that our hero should’ve been given a job at the United Nations – he’s always the diplomat whenever a conflict breaks out. Here, Ip Man tries to settle a dispute between one of his new students in Hong Kong and a group of Hung Gar practitioners, but ultimately, he has to break out his Wing Chun skills to put a stop to the conflict. Not only that, but this marks the point in the film where Jin Shanzhao, one of Ip Man’s adversaries in the first film, shows up to fight by his side – looks like he found his way back to the truth path of martial arts after being corrected by Ip Man last time!
6. Ip Man vs General Miura
The final duel of the first installment, Ip Man must do battle with the formidable Miura, the general of the Japanese occupation, on a lei tai (an elevated fighting arena, without railings) right in the center of Foshan. General Miura scoffs at the people of Foshan, but he also relishes a good fight with a worthy opponent and recognizes Ip Man’s abilities in martial arts and seeks to challenge him. When your enemy respects your fighting skill, that’s when you know you’re on a level playing field – and “level the playing field” Ip Man does just that!
5. Ip Man vs the Three Masters
In the second film, Ip Man finds out that when you’re the new teacher in Hong Kong, your fellow kung fu instructors want to be sure you know what you’re doing. Our hero is tested against not one, but three masters from the Hong Kong Martial Arts Association, and only by proving his skill against them will he earn the right to teach in Hong Kong. Of course, the icing on the cake for this fight is the ‘rematch’ of Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung, after their first duel in “Sha Po Lang” in 2005!
4. Ip Man vs Jin Shanzhao
This is the first really big fight sequence in the original “Ip Man”, and if your eyes weren’t glued to the screen before, they certainly were at this point. The Northern kung fu master, Jin Shanzhao, is in Foshan with his gang of followers to set up his own martial arts school, and as far as he’s concerned, that entails putting all other teachers out of business. Ip Man is the exact opposite, a modest yet powerful Wing Chun master who only raises his fists when he must – the famous saying by Lao Tzu, “He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak” is meticulously exemplified in this battle, which includes the exceedingly rare use of a feather duster as a weapon of combat!
3. Master Hung vs Taylor “The Twister” Milos
A slight deviation from the other entries on this list, in that this one doesn’t actually involve Ip Man himself. However, Donnie was far from the only outstanding martial artist in the films, and we’d be remiss not to make mention of two of other greats in that group – Sammo Hung and the late Darren Shahlavi. British boxer, Taylor “The Twister” is hardly shy in expressing his contempt for Chinese people and kung fu, so it’s up to Master Hung to step into the ring and put this overbearing bully in his place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go so well for him, and from that, you can probably guess that the next entry on this list is….
2. Ip Man vs “The Twister”
It’s a kung fu version of “Rocky IV” as Ip Man steps into the ring to face off with the vicious Twister and avenge Master Hung! Darren Shahlavi is simply unforgettable as the villainous heavy of the film, but the finale of “Ip Man 2” is especially significant for another reason – in the late eighties, Donnie Yen travelled to London where he gave a seminar teaching the art of fight choreography, and the event was attended by none other than Darren himself, who took on board everything he could and pursued his career in martial arts films, nice timing there!
And the greatest fight sequence from the first two Ip Man films so far is…
1. Ip Man vs 10 black belts
Ip Man isn’t the type of guy anyone would claim has a short fuse, but make no mistake, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry! The haughty General Miura issues open challenges to the martial artists of Foshan to face him or his students in exchange for a bag of rice, and in a previous duel, he kills Ip Man’s close friend, Lam. Ten of Miura’s black belts are absolutely powerless against the might of our hero, as the poor guys who gets chain punched into the floor could most assuredly attest to (or in this case perhaps not)!
So there you have it, Kung Fu Kingdom’s choice of the Top 10 Ip Man fight scenes so far. Will this list require an update after “Ip Man 3” arrives? Time will soon tell, taking a look at the trailers and new additions to the cast, you certainly can’t rule it out!
Ip Man 3 will be on general release in the U.K. on January 15th 2016, followed by a U.S. release on January 22nd.