Donnie Yen‘s character ages gracefully as he plays the titular character in this final installment of ‘Ip Man’. In ‘Ip Man 4: The Finale’, Ip Man makes a life-threatening discovery about himself that leads us through a final adventure of this well-loved film series. This discovery sends him to the United States to reunite with his student, Bruce Lee.
While there, he is introduced to martial arts masters in a Chinese community located in San Francisco. Ip Man experiences first hand the racial discrimination predominant in the United States during the early 1960s, particularly towards members of the Chinese community.
It’s nice to see Ip Man interact with Bruce Lee in this last film of the series. Bruce Lee’s growing popularity in the United States is incorporated in the movie as he introduces Chinese Kung Fu to an American audience. Questions arise as to the audacity of this cultural sharing, though, as not all of the Chinese community agree with Bruce Lee’s methods. This puts Ip Man in direct conflict with the other Kung Fu Masters in the United States as he stands by his student’s principles.
The difference in views in itself shows the narrow-mindedness of the Kung Fu Masters of the film. They claim to be racially discriminated, but they are blind to their own discrimination of the American Caucasian populace.
As such, Ip Man is caught within a powder keg as culture’s clash in a conflict waiting to explode. This being Ip Man, the cultural tug-of-war is settled through martial arts. To prove American superiority, Chinese martial arts is challenged through another martial art: karate.
Ironically, the show of American superiority is reliant on another foreign influence while denying the acceptance of Chinese culture. This drives straight to the hypocrisy shown by some American characters in the film as they are juxtaposed to the other more racially accepting American characters.
Though Ip Man has aged, his skills in his art have not diminished. I liken him to longtime champion challenged by the young guns for his belt. As the story progresses, these young martial artists may have more speed and power in their step, but Ip Man makes up for it with enough skill and smarts to vanquish his foes. The martial arts scenes remain top-notch without denying that Ip Man has been through so many battles and scars. In spite of all of this, the film is a visual feast for fans of marital arts. Donnie Yen still remains to be one of the best performers in this genre of film-making.
All in all, ‘Ip Man: 4’ makes a strong statement against racism. At its most basic, a racist is a bully. And there is only one way to make a bully back off: by fighting back. Once the bully realizes you can defend yourself, he’ll step away. There is no assurance that you will gain the bully’s respect, but you will retain or attain yours. When the bullied have realized enough is enough they will see just how powerful they really are.
Ip Man shows you how to deal with bullies: you don’t back down, and you show that you can defend yourself. This statement against racism is quite relevant and timely in current world affairs, as well.
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