In terms of action films, once the name Ip Man is said, those in the know, know, it can’t possibly get any more trill. Donnie Yen carved out a new path in martial arts films with his portrayal of Bruce Lee’s teacher, Ip Man. Listen, Ip Man hands so good that even those who took an L from him can get a movie of their own. Which brings us to Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy. After a behind closed doors battle, where Ip Man put all the hands on him, Wing Chun master Cheung Tin Chi (Zhang Jin aka Max Zhang) has pulled out of the spotlight for a simpler life.
Cheung Tin Chi now leads a light moonlighting as a mercenary for hire, that he gives up as well, and a grocery store owner. Though Cheung may have tried to leave the world of martial arts, the fight hasn’t left him. A chance encounter with Julia (Liu Yan) and her friend Nana (Chrissie Chau) fleeing the wrath of a gangster Tso Sai Kit (Kevin Cheng) and Cheung’s intervention lead to an ordeal that’s going to bring them hands back out.
The Crouching Tiger Back
Michelle Yeoh comes through as Kwan, older sister of Kit and the leader of the gang. Yo, Michelle Yeoh came through just to steal scenes in this movie man. All you need to know is she is trying to make things legit and have her syndicate give up crime, but her kid brother is making that shit dumb hard. I loved seeing Yeoh in this. She plays her character so well. Where Zhang Jin has an aloof charm, Michelle Yeoh has a very extremely stoic charming to her character.
Though the story moves very fast and the fights scenes didn’t have the same emotional build and climax as Ip Man’s, what I do appreciate is how women have a more prominent role in this martial arts film. Yeoh, Yan, and Chau add more to the film by being women that have their own depth and portion of the story, especially seeing them fight and hold their own.
Bigger than Catching them Hands
Aside from the action and gang activity taking place, I found that the bigger story that shines in this movie is the British influence on the citizens portrayed in the film. We see how far corruption and misuse of police force is handled through the Brits. This is something Ip Man had shined some light on as well with foreigners looking down on Chinese citizens. I liked this element being looked at through the film, and we see more of this in the entertainment district as well. White male sailors being ashore and taking part in the nightlife in a very aggressive and indulgent way. The entertainers having to put pride aside in order to make money in dealing with these types says a lot of the time period this takes place in.
While it ain’t hard to tell that as a spin-off of the Ip Man series, Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy is different from its predecessor. There is room for improvement but with the women having a more prominent role and Zhang Jin being an aloof yet cute charmer, it’d be of interest to see just where this spin-off could go from here.
Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy hits theaters on April 12, 2019.