Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2018)

Posted in Reviews by - May 02, 2019
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2018)

Max Zhang’s rival Wing Chun master in Ip Man 3 damn-near stole the show from Donnie Yen. Cheung Tin-chi’s proud quest for kung fu superiority and his subsequent fall from grace was a moralistic lesson in hubris, and although positioned as the villain of the piece, his tale was more cautionary than downright evil. Zhang also demonstrated great poise and presence as an actor, and more than capable to rival Donnie in the stoic stakes. This spin-off – directed by Ip Man 3‘s fight choreographer, Yuen Woo-ping – throws us back into the gloriously romanticised world of neon-lit 1950s Hong Kong, and follows Cheung Tin-chi shortly after his humiliation at the hands of Ip Man. Instead of pursuing revenge, he turns his back on the martial world, using his wooden dummy as a clothes horse and taking up menial work to devote all of his time to raising his only son. It’s a tender, believable, and engaging relationship, one which is thrown into turmoil when Cheung steps in to defend a young singer from the clutches of a notorious street gang. It’s a paper-thin excuse for carnage in a film distinctly lacking in subtlety. However, the gangsters include a supporting cast of awesome fighting talent, and each are given a decent run-out. The head of the triad syndicate is Michelle Yeoh (complete class and dignity), who is torn between trying to be taken seriously as a legitimate business leader while covering for criminal acts perpetrated by members of her family. Then there’s Dave Bautista (tonally perfect), parading as an honourable benefactor who is actually an animalistic, drug-dealing psycho-killer (the fact he’s also the size of a gorilla clearly not being a big enough giveaway). And then there’s Max Zhang’s SPL II co-star Tony Jaa, playing a hired lackey who jumps in and out of the movie without too much rhyme or reason. It’s a film carried by star power and fantastic fight choreography, even if a few of Yuen Woo-ping’s more disjointed directing traits are evident; supporting characters with little or no substance, and wirework sequences which are weird and distracting. But you just can’t argue with Woo-ping’s distinguished track-record in spotting potential and showcasing new talent, and with Master Z, he perfectly demonstrates why Max Zhang is more than deserving of his own franchise.

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy is available on Blu-ray and DVD via Well Go USA on 23 July 2019.

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