Master Z: Ip Man Legacy Review

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy Poster

The Ip Man series has been consistently good over the years. Donnie Yen has shown us that his version of Ip Man is as badass as he is inspiring. Be that as it may, no one thought that the series would be a part of a larger “cinematic universe”. Yet here we are. Is Master Z: Ip Man Legacy a worthy enough film to be in the Ip Man franchise?

In a way, yes. Master Z features some of the most creative martial arts sequences ever put on film. It’s grand and balletic—as a Yuen Woo-Ping film should be. However, the film does suffer from the predictable storyline that’s found in seemingly most period martial arts films.

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy follows Cheung Tin Chi who has kept a very low profile following his defeat at the hands of Master Ip Man. However, he’s inadvertently pulled into a drug war led by a powerful foreigner.

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy - Max Zhang

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy marks the third film that the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping directed since his return with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. Although he has long hiatuses in-between films, it seems he hasn’t lost a single step.

First of all, the action choreography is still stunning to watch on screen. Sure, the martial arts choreography is still “wire fu” but they’re still insanely imaginative. The crazy thing is that these action scenes are few and far between. The film focuses more on the story and characters rather than the action. However, when they do show up then it feels like an event.

It’s just a shame that the storyline in between the martial arts scenes is standard for a Hong Kong action film. So if you’ve seen one Hong Kong martial arts film then you’ve seen them all. The story is convoluted as the glut of characters and their individual storylines intertwine in a disorderly way. Not to mention, Master Z has particular characters that leave as quickly as their introduction. With the core films in the franchise ending soon, these characters might divulge into further Ip Man spinoffs.

But it’s not just the convoluted storylines that make Master Z just like any other Hong Kong martial arts film. The film’s antagonists are also just like any other Hong Kong martial arts film as well. They’re all one-dimensional foreigners that seek to abuse the wonderful people of China. It’s understandable why foreigners are the villains in these period films, but the stories are always the same so the film becomes utterly predictable.

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy - Michelle Yeoh

Thankfully, there’s a certain likability to our heroes that make us like them. The cast just has a chemistry that’s completely palpable. As a result, we wish the best for our heroes and feel bad when they’re caught up with some bad things. With the Ip Man franchise, we’ve come to an understanding that not all characters will come out the same way as they came in. So that same rule applies to our characters in Master Z. But that’s why martial arts films like these are so great. When things go south for our heroes, they pick themselves back up and prepare for an epic showdown.

Overall, Master Z: Ip Man Legacy is a fantastic martial arts film that’s full of grandiose and balletic choreography. At 73, it’s mind-boggling to see that Yuen Woo-Ping is still able to come up with and shoot some incredibly creative martial arts sequences. It’s just a shame that the rest of the film feels like a copy of other Hong Kong martial arts period films.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

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