Synopsis. Kung Fu Master Ip is diagnosed with cancer. He decides his teenage son should study in America to expand his perspectives. His son doesn’t want to leave China. His son wants to study martial arts, but his father won’t teach him, for reasons that aren’t explained. Determined to find a school, Master Ip goes to San Francisco Chinatown to garner the required recommendation letter from the head of the Chinese Benevolent Association. Master Ip soon learns they have an axe to grind with him for mentoring Bruce Lee who since coming to America has taught Kung Fu to non-Chinese students. Master Ip faces multiple situations requiring tact and fighting skills when injustice must be dealt with. America provides bigoted individuals galore. Ip Man 4 is a 2019 Hong Kong film and the fourth and final film in the Ip Man film series. The first film was 2008’s Ip Man, the second was 2010’s Ip Man 2, and the third was 2015’s Ip Man 3.
What I liked
Master Ip (Donnie Yen). He was serenity with an arsenal of fighting skills. He was the embodiment of “still waters run deep”. I loved his style. Not having watched the previous three films, I wondered if he didn’t want his son to follow in his martial arts footsteps because Master Ip wanted a better life for him, though his son didn’t agree.
Fight scenes. Variety of situations and opponents made the fight scenes necessary and fun to watch. The chorography was superb and the camera captured it all.
Chinese struggle in America is explored. The disdain, hatred, and unfair treatment the Chinese characters received from the white American characters was prevalent. As one character noted, the Chinese were the hard labor that built the railroads across America but never received thanks only a “send them back” parting gift.
What I did not like
Masters that couldn’t fight. When the bigoted karate expert crashed the Chinatown festival to prove Kung Fu was inferior, the Kung Fu masters that fought were defeated handily. Master Ip didn’t suffer the same fate. But I wanted the masters to be masterful fighters.
Bigoted characters galore. Do I think the white cheerleader bested by a Chinese cheerleader would sic her bully boyfriend and his buddies to beat her up? Yes I do. Do I think the immigration officer whose cheerleader daughter lied about being attacked would misuse his power to extract revenge? Yes. Do I think the marine Sargent that refused to consider the validity of including Kung Fu in the curriculum was brutal and fought to maim? Yes. Those people existed in the timeframe of the film and undoubtedly exist today.
Would I recommend Ip Man 4: The Finale?
Yes. Master Ip was worth watching because of the creative fight scenes and a hero that acted with honor. Over the top characters added an element of camp. I had to respect Master Ip’s decision to forsake America and return to China noting the grass wasn’t greener on the other side of the fence. The film closed with a montage from this quad of films that look back from a young to older Master Ip who appeared to have acquitted himself well in each film.