Ip Man 3 Blu-ray Review
aka. Donnie Yen vs. Mike Tyson
In what may well be his last martial arts-centric lead role, legendary Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen returns to one of his most memorable characters, that of Bruce Lee’s mentor, Ip Man.Whilst the Ip Man series has always played fast and loose with history, initially providing a welcome backstory to the legend of the man who taught Bruce Lee – with the obvious intention of leading up to the training of said student – copyright issues and problems with the Lee estate largely left the story drifting into increasingly fictitious territory in order to pad out the years and arguably make Ip Man’s history more eventful and action-packed than it likely ever was. The positive side to this is that it’s enabled filmmakers to create several very interesting martial arts features, enshrouded in a faux history which, at the very least, feels authentic, and driven by a commanding performance by Donnie Yen. Over the course of three films, culminating in what we have to only assume is the start of Ip Man’s training of Bruce Lee, we get to learn about the grandmaster, his skills, his family and the battles that he (may or may not have) fought.Ip Man 3 manages to maintain the same authentic feel as its predecessors, and stay true to the ethos of the legendary master, allowing him to develop both at a personal level – with tragedy surrounding his home life – and also in terms of his practice, all the while facing impossible odds. Yen is outstanding, both in his respect for the role (which, despite several competing films about the character, he has certainly made his own) and also in the action department, which requires some tremendous feats against armies of assailants, whilst three key, brutal, one-on-one battles (including a decent enough although unlikely bout of Donnie Yen vs. Mike Tyson) are both innovative and spectacular (particularly from the 50-something Yen). Although the story is not quite as significant as its predecessors in terms of historical impact (faux or otherwise), it’s certainly an important personal struggle, and a fine fitting finale for the trilogy.
Picture QualityIp Man 3 impresses on UK Region Free Blu-ray, both in terms of video and audio.
Presented with an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition rendition, framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen, Ip Man 3 looks largely stunning and stands out as likely the most impressive of the trilogy. Detail is often outstanding, with some great close-ups that showcase fine object work and character definition (and a few front-centric 3D-prepped shots designed to make the most of the 3D format it was also released in, in some territories), and a few impressive slo-mo shots that reveal further fine detail. The colour scheme is strong and rich, whilst remaining faithful and authentic to the period feel, whilst black levels are strong and allow for solid shadow detail with no signs of overt crush. With no obvious defects, this is a stellar way to round out the trilogy.
Sound QualityAlthough not sporting the DTS:X track that adorns its US counterpart, Ip Man 3’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is still a thoroughly effective, impressive track.
Yes there are dubbed alternatives available, as well as lesser dual-channel offerings, but the original Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is the only real choice, complete with perfectly timed (apart from over the closing scrawl) English subtitles for translation. Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, whilst the score provides a sweeping, effective, background accompaniment at all times, fuelling the surrounds and rears. The effects are excellently rendered, with frequently bone-crunching impact, discretely rendered across the array with the battles – large and small – aurally ‘choreographed’ across the stage. It’s a great offering, and whilst I’m sure fans will be frustrated that the DTS:X track may have been even better, there really aren’t any complaints here.
Steelbook ExtrasIp Man 3's UK Blu-ray release boasts a few nice extras, largely (although not completely) matching up to its US counterpart, with a few nice Interviews (including English language offerings from both Donnie Yen and Mike Tyson), which are far more meaty than the extremely brief trio of behind the scenes Featurettes. The disc is rounded off by some Preview Trailers.
Ip Man 3's UK Blu-ray release is a nice package, made all the more attractive by the Steelbook release of the trilogy.
Although individual Steelbook releases are not available for the three films (due to rights issues), Ip Man 3 is available as part of a Trilogy Steelbook package which mounts all three disc inside a standard-sized case (not an ugly Jumbo) that is simple but solid in its design. Despite no sign of any gloss on the image itself - which arguably may not have suited this series, or the artwork for it - the embossed frame and spot gloss gold embossed title stand out and make the most of the near-monochromatic central image, an artist's rendition of one of the promo shots for the third film.
Blu-ray VerdictRounding out a nice little trilogy about Bruce Lee's mentor, Donnie Yen not only returns to one of his most famous roles, but also threatens to make this his kung-fu swansong, and, thankfully - and certainly on an action level - it's a hell of a bang to go out on.
If this is the last pure martial arts spectacular we see from Yen, it's as impressive a send-off as anybody could have hoped for.
The UK Region Free Blu-ray release of Ip Man 3 boasts excellent video and audio as well as a smattering of extra features, although fans - in particular those frustrated by the fact that steelbooks for the individual films are not available - may be interested to pick it up as a part of the Ip Man Trilogy Steelbook release.
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