Ip Man 3

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Ip Man 3
Theatrical release poster
MandarinYè Wèn Sān
CantoneseJip6 Man6 Saam1
Directed byWilson Yip
Produced byRaymond Wong
Written byEdmond Wong
Chan Tai-lee
Jil Leung
Music byKenji Kawai
CinematographyKenny Tse
Edited byCheung Ka-fai
  • Dreams Salon Entertainment Culture
  • Pegasus Motion Pictures[1]
  • Starbright Communications
  • Super Hero Films
Distributed byPegasus Motion Pictures
Release date
  • 16 December 2015 (2015-12-16) (Hong Kong premiere)
  • 24 December 2015 (2015-12-24) (Hong Kong)
Running time
105 minutes[2]
CountryHong Kong
BudgetUS$36 million[3]
Box officeUS$157.3 million[4]

Ip Man 3 is a 2015 Hong Kong biographical martial arts film directed by Wilson Yip, produced by Raymond Wong and written by Edmond Wong with action choreography by Yuen Woo-ping. It is the third in the Ip Man film series based on the life of the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man and features Donnie Yen reprising the title role. The film also features Mike Tyson, and Ip Man's pupil Bruce Lee is portrayed by Danny Chan as well as Ip Man's fellow Wing Chun expert[5] rival Cheung Tin-chi (張天志) also known as Sum Nung portrayed by Zhang Jin[6][7]. Principal photography commenced in March 2015 and ended in June that year.

The premiere of the film was released in Hong Kong on 16 December 2015, and officially released in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia on 24 December 2015. It opened in Taiwan on 31 December 2015, New Zealand and United Kingdom on 15 January 2016 and one week later in Australia. It was released in the United States on 22 January 2016, and was released in mainland China on 4 March 2016. The film received positive reviews and eight Hong Kong Film Award nominations, including Best Film and Best Director, and won in the Best Editing category. It also won Best Action Choreography, Best Director and Best Picture at the 2016 Shanghai International Film Festival.


In 1959, Ip Man is settling into his low-profile life in Hong Kong. His elder son, Ip Chun, has returned to Foshan to study, leaving him with his younger son Ip Ching and his wife Cheung Wing-sing in Hong Kong. Bruce Lee visits Ip and asks to become one of his students. After Lee demonstrates his speed, Ip neither accepts nor rejects him, but insinuates for him to leave by opening the door.

After Ip Ching gets into a fight with his schoolmate, Cheung Fung, their teacher, Miss Wong, asks the parents to come to the school, though only the Ips arrive. As an apology, the Ip family invite Cheung Fung to their home for dinner. At Ip's house, Cheung Fung displays rudimentary yet impressive Wing Chun skills. When Ip asks the boy who his mentor is, he says that it is his father, Cheung Tin-chi, who shows up to pick up his son shortly after. Although Cheung interacts cordially with Ip, he secretly envies and seeks to surpass him, participating successfully in underground fights to earn extra money.

The organiser, Ma King-sang, a local triad leader, also works for Frank, an American property developer and highly proficient boxer. Frank orders Ma to acquire a piece of land occupied by the school where Ip Ching and Cheung Fung study. Ma asks for a month for it to be done, but is threatened into assuring that it will be done within two weeks. The next day, when Ip goes to pick up his son from school, he witnesses Ma and his men coercing and beating the headmaster, who refuses to sell them the school. Ip interferes and restrains Ma, but is forced to let him go. Ip seeks help from his close friend "Fat Po", a local police detective. Fat Po agrees to help Ip, but claims a shortage of manpower and influence. Ip then decides to guard the school alongside his students.

That night, they fend off an attack by Ma's men, who attempt to set fire to the school and kidnap the headmaster. Cheung, who happened to be passing by, helps fight off the invaders and rescues the headmaster. Cheung's skills impress Ip, and he thanks Cheung for his help. Tin Ngo-san, a local martial arts master and Ma's former mentor, is enraged by Ma's unscrupulous acts, and accompanied by Ip, confronts Ma at the Hong Kong shipyard where he humiliates him in front of his men. Ma retaliates with a hidden knife, but Ip is able to stop him. Fat Po arrives and keeps the situation at bay, but Ip eventually lets Ma go again to de-escalate the situation. Ma finds Cheung and offers him a large sum of money to get revenge against Tin on his behalf. Desperate to open his own martial arts school, Cheung accepts the offer and is able to put Tin in the hospital. Ip receives a call from the hospital and visits Tin.

Upon learning that Tin did not call him, Ip realises it was a set-up by Ma to lure him away from the school, so that his gang could kidnap some of the students, including Ip Ching and Cheung Fung. Ip arrives alone at Ma's shipyard, where Ma holds Ip Ching at knife point and threatens to sell the children into slavery if the headmaster refuses to surrender the school. Upon learning that his son was also kidnapped, Cheung arrives and is allowed to leave with his son due to being an associate; but after his son tells him that they still have his friends, he returns and fights alongside Ip. Ip and Cheung are able to hold their own until a troop of policemen led by Fat Po comes to arrest the gang, while Ma flees. After the incident, Frank dismisses Ma and sends a Thai boxer to go after Ip instead.

Returning home, Ip learns that Wing-sing has been diagnosed with cancer and may only live another six months. While taking Wing-sing home from a medicine shop, Ip is attacked in an elevator by the Thai boxer, who is defeated before the elevator reaches the ground floor. Fat Po later tells Ip about Frank, who wants to eliminate Ip at all costs for obstructing his plans. Ip decides to confront Frank in his office, where he engages Ip in a three-minute fight, promising to leave him alone if he can just last the three minutes. Ip is initially overwhelmed by his opponent's sheer muscle and force but begins turning the tide when he attacks Frank's lower half and they fight to a draw after the three minutes pass; Frank keeps his promise.

Cheung, with the money he obtained from Ma earlier, opens his martial arts school, and claims that his Wing Chun is genuine while Ip's is not. Cheung proceeds to build his reputation by defeating a number of martial arts masters. Finally, he challenges Ip to a battle that will decide who is the true Grandmaster of Wing Chun. Meanwhile, Ip spends more time with his ailing wife, ashamedly feeling that he had neglected her earlier. Ip refuses to attend the match, instead going out dancing with Wing-sing, instructed by Lee, whom Ip finally accepts as a student. Due to Ip's failure to attend, Cheung is declared the winner, although he seems unsatisfied by Ip's refusal to fight him. Wing-sing, despite being happy about Ip's decision to accompany her, makes an appointment with Cheung for another match on Ip's behalf, as she guesses that Ip would have attended if not for her condition.

Wing-sing accompanies Ip to the fight. After a battle with six and a half point poles, butterfly swords and an empty-handed fight, Ip eventually overpowers Cheung with a one-inch punch. Accepting defeat, Cheung destroys the banner that proclaimed himself to be the Grandmaster. Ip tells him that spending time with their closest ones are more important than competing. In the epilogue, it is revealed that Wing-sing died in 1960, and that Ip helped make Wing Chun well known internationally and left a legacy.


  • Donnie Yen as Ip Man (葉問), an unassuming Chinese Wing Chun master originally from Foshan.
  • Zhang Jin as Cheung Tin-chi (張天志) also known as Sum Nung,[6][7] a martial artist from the same Wing Chun lineage as Ip Man. He lives as a lowly rickshaw puller and aspires to surpass Ip Man as a famous Wing Chun teacher. In contrast to Ip Man, he is much less restrained and merciless when using his Wing Chun.
  • Lynn Hung as Cheung Wing-sing (張永成), Ip Man's wife and mother of their two sons, Ip Chun and Ip Ching.
  • Patrick Tam as Ma King-sang (馬鯨笙), local Triad leader and former martial arts disciple.
  • Karena Ng as Miss Wong (黃老師), Ip Ching's school teacher.
  • Kent Cheng as Fat Po (肥波), head of the British Hong Kong Police and friend of Ip Man.
  • Bryan Leung as Tin Ngo-san (田傲山), a local martial arts master and umbrella salesman.
  • Louis Cheung as Tsui Lik (徐力), a student of Ip Man.
  • Danny Chan as Bruce Lee (李小龍).
  • Mike Tyson as Frank, an American property developer and proficient boxer, with links to the local Triads.
  • Tats Lau as the school principal.
  • Babyjohn Choi as newspaper reporter.
  • Yu Kang as Master Tam.
  • Lo Mang as Master Law, who also appeared in the previous film.
  • Leung Siu-hung as Master Lee.
  • Chen Chao as Master Chan.
  • Sarut Khanwilai as the Thai Boxer.



Donnie Yen, who played the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man in two films, initially expressed no interest in appearing in a third film, feeling that, "Because Ip Man 2 will incontrovertibly become a classic, bettering the first. I believe it's best to end something when it's at perfection, and leave behind a good memory."[8] Before the release of Ip Man 2, he stated he would no longer be involved in a film based on Ip Man's life due to the proliferation of Ip Man films produced by different studios following the success of the first Ip Man film.[9] While both Yen and Raymond Wong were not initially keen on making a third Ip Man film, director Wilson Yip had expressed interest in making one that would focus on the relationship between Yip Man and Bruce Lee. While Ip Man 2 very briefly shows Lee as a child, Wilson Yip hoped to find a suitable actor to portray Lee as an adult for the third instalment.[10] In March 2014, Variety announced that Ip Man 3 would be shot in early 2015, and would be released in 3D during Chinese New Year that year, with Wilson Yip, Yen, and Wong reprising their duties.[1]


In March 2015, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Mike Tyson would also be starring as a street fighter and property developer.[3] This marks the first time Tyson appears in film or television as a substantial character other than himself.[11] They also noted that because the team could not find an actor who could portray Bruce Lee's intensity onscreen, they decided to use CGI to portray Lee.[3] In the same month, Kris Storti, the COO of Bruce Lee Enterprises (BLE), said that BLE, which is the sole owner of all worldwide rights relating to Lee, including his name, image and likeness, was "justifiably shocked" over Pegasus Motion Pictures' decision to include Lee in their film, which Storti said was "completely unauthorized" by BLE. "To state it in no uncertain terms, BLE intends to seek all remedies available to it to stop Pegasus from including the computer-generated version of Bruce Lee in Ip Man 3," he added. However, Pegasus asserted that Bruce Lee's brother Robert Lee, who worked as a consultant on Ip Man 3, owns the intellectual property rights of Lee, a claim which was denied by BLE.[12] The Guardian noted that plans to use a CGI Bruce Lee were dropped as a result, though Lee did appear in the film, portrayed by Danny Chan, who had previously portrayed Lee in the 2008 TV series, The Legend of Bruce Lee.[13]

Yen said that, despite initial reluctance, he agreed to return to the role of Ip Man because "no matter where I go, nobody knows me as Donnie Yen. They call me Ip Man. So I decided to play the role one more time to fulfil everyone's wishes",[14] and implied that Ip Man 3 could be his final martial arts film.[15] Regarding the decision to make Ip Man 3 five years after Ip Man 2, Wong said there were numerous unrelated Ip Man films being made such as The Legend Is Born: Ip Man, Ip Man: The Final Fight and The Grandmaster, so they wanted to wait till all that ended.[16]

Lynn Hung reprised her role as Ip Man's wife from the first two films.[17] In November 2015, it was revealed on the website of music composer Kenji Kawai (who scored the series' first two films) that he had returned to work on the soundtrack of Ip Man 3.[18]


Principal photography began in Shanghai on 25 March 2015.[3] While filming an action sequence with Yen, Tyson's finger was fractured.[19]

Despite Yuen Woo-ping being credited as the action choreographer of the film, both Yuen and Yen have revealed during interviews that many scenes are actually choreographed by Yen himself as he often improvised on the set and add new actions and sequences while filming. This is especially evident in the fight scene against Tyson where Yen wanted to include some MMA and physics theory, targeting the lower body of Tyson.[20] Principal photography wrapped in June 2015.[21][22] Yen has gone uncredited in action choreography many times, and his improvisation and contribution includes many Hong Kong Film Award winners such as the previous two Ip Man films, Bodyguards and Assassins and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.[citation needed]


Ip Man 3 brings in depth and sophistication, which director Wilson Yip and screenwriter Edmond Wong deliberately added. Donnie Yen has mentioned each film has a unique theme, that the first Ip Man film was about "Survival", Ip Man 2 focuses on "Making a Living and Adaptation", while Ip Man 3 focuses on "Life" itself.[23]

Symbolism of butterfly[edit]

The First Scene where Ip Man was practising the Wooden Dummy and a butterfly flew and stop atop of it signifies a legend in Chinese Mythology. A Moth or Butterfly is considered a returning spirit of a loved one.[24]

Be like water[edit]

When Ip Man throws the water at Bruce Lee, it was a hint at Lee's famous quote, "Be Like Water". It teaches Lee to be adaptable, and not to just try and kick the water, but the adaptability dodging and not being rash and stubborn. Lee later developed Jeet Kune Do, which focuses on adaptability.[11]

Cha cha champion[edit]

Other than being known as an action star, Bruce Lee was National Cha Cha Champion in Hong Kong in 1958. In the film, he taught Ip Man how to dance in exchange for learning Wing Chun from Ip.[25]

3 Minutes with Mike Tyson[edit]

Mike Tyson in his boxing prime is known for his first round knock-out of his opponents, having over 21 first round knock-outs in his career and director Wilson Yip gives a nod to that. One round in Boxing is 3 minutes. In the film Frank, played by Tyson, issues a challenge to Ip Man to survive for 3 minutes.[26]

This is also a reference to Ip Man 2's table top fight scene, where Master Hung and Ip Man fought to a stand-still. The results of the two fights are identical, and both are limited by time. While in Ip Man 2 a Joss stick was used as the timer, Frank used an alarm clock in Ip Man 3 to show the difference in between cultures.

Same techniques, different execution[edit]

While Ip Man was fighting Frank, he delivered a technique known as the "eye gouge", but Ip deliberately missed the attack due to the respect of his opponent. Cheung Tin-chi used the same Wing Chun technique in the final fight against Ip Man, however his execution was one without hesitation or mercy, injuring Ip Man's right eye. Donnie Yen has mentioned in an interview that this is specially choreographed to express the idea that despite having the same techniques in Wing Chun, a fighter's own characteristics and aggression will result in different execution of the same moves.[27]

Ip Man Vs Sum Nung[edit]

Numerous complex fight scenes between Ip Man and Sum Nung (Cheung Tin-chi) played by Zhang Jin then against a bunch of faceless bad guys, creates an excellent relationship between Ip Man and Sum Nung. The 2 characters played off of the other, filmmakers crafted Zhang with a multifaceted persona of a good man trying to overcome his own internal demons as he struggles to do what he thinks is best as a single father of a young son whom is looking to him as his role model. The film builds to is a climactic battle between would be Grandmasters, both wanting to stake their claim as the number one Wing Chun master. These extraordinary fight sequences are filmed like a tango dance with both actors moving themselves to deflect the advances of the other equally talented opponent. It is very much the type of martial arts fight sequence that fans of the Wing Chun Kung Fu genre could have hoped for.[5][6][7]

One-inch punch[edit]

In the last fight scene between Ip Man and Cheung Tin-chi, Ip Man uses his hearing to avoid the roll punches and ends the fight with the one-inch punch. Wing Chun is known for using the different senses in actual combat, and the one-inch punch is a very special technique. In reality, Bruce Lee performed the one-inch punch in the 1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships, bringing worldwide attention to this technique.[28][29]


Ip Man 3 was released in Hong Kong on 24 December 2015,[30][31][32] as well as in Malaysia and Singapore.[4] Earlier, it was scheduled for a 2016 release.[33] The film had a limited release in New Zealand on 25 December 2015, followed by a wide release in Taiwan on 31 December 2015, and a limited release in the United States on 22 January 2016.[4] It was released in mainland China on 4 March.[34] It was released in Sri Lanka in March 2016.[35]

Critical reception[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 78% of critics have given Ip Man 3 a positive review based on 51 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Ip Man 3 isn't the most tightly plotted biopic a kung fu fan could ask for, but the fight scenes are fun to watch — and at times, the drama is even genuinely poignant."[36] Another review aggregator, Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 57 out of 100 based on 14 critic reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[37]

Clarence Tsui of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Bolstered by Yuen Woo-ping's exhilarating action choreography and some stunt casting in the shape of Mike Tyson and Zhang Jin (the breakout star in Wong Kar-wai's rival Ip Man biopic The Grandmaster), Yen and Yip have managed to wring a serviceable film out of a pedestrian plot riddled with erroneous period details." Tsui called it "a fitfully effective finale to the franchise."[38] James Marsh of Screen International stated, "Ip Man 3 trades the crowd-pleasing intensity of its predecessors for a more introspective portrait of its central character." However, Marsh added, "Yen has always portrayed Ip Man as a modest beacon of calm and restraint, which has added to the enigmatic nature of the character, but he struggles here when called upon to express grander emotions. As expected, Mike Tyson fails to convince in his role of Frank, whose origins are never revealed in the film, and whose motivation is simply greed."[39]

Edmund Lee of South China Morning Post gave the film a 3.5/5 rating and commented, "A respectable action drama that doesn't try to replicate the pleasure of its predecessors, instead admirably turning to contemplate Ip's priorities in life, Ip Man 3 will reward those who come in with no preconceptions about what an Ip Man biopic headed by Donnie Yen should be like. For the character has irreversibly mellowed and it's left to audiences to respond in kind."[40] Andrew Chan of Film Critics Circle of Australia commented "Rarely do a trilogy of films, gets better with age and this one provides us with plenty of the evergreen Yuen Woo Ping inspired fight sequences one after another."[41]

Hans David Tampubolon of The Jakarta Post called the film a "messy patchwork of stitched-together plotlines" that was an "action-packed but ultimately disappointing finale of the Wing Chun trilogy" and concluded, "Well, judging by the atrocious script and character development in Ip Man 3, there is a very large possibility that Donnie is regretting his final decision to portray the legendary grandmaster for the third time."[42]

Box office[edit]

According to Box Office Mojo, Ip Man 3 has earned US$7.8 million in Hong Kong[43] and $2,679,437 in the United States.[44] In China, it made US$24.1 million on its opening day, debuting at No. 1 and US$28.7 million on its second day for a two-day total of $52.4 million.[45] In its opening weekend, it topped the box office with an estimated US$71.2 million from 191,400 screenings and 10.4 million admissions.[46] Internationally, the film earned $154,165,316, bringing its worldwide total to $156,844,753.[44]

Home media[edit]

Ip Man 3 Blu-ray was released on 10 March 2016 in Hong Kong[47] and on 25 April 2016 in United Kingdom.[48]


List of accolades
Award / Film fFestival Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
35th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film Ip Man 3 Won [49]
Best Director Wilson Yip Won
Best Supporting Actor Zhang Jin Won
Best Cinematography Tse Chung To Won
Best Film Editing Cheung Ka-fai Won
Best Action Choreography Yuen Wo Ping Won
Best Sound Design Kinson Tsang, Yiu Chun Hin Won
Best Visual Effects Raymond Leung Wai Man, Yee Kwok Leung, Garrett K Lam Won
10th Asian Film Awards
Best Actor Donnie Yen Nominated [50]
Best Supporting Actor Zhang Jin Nominated
Best Production Design Ken Mak Nominated
Shanghai International Film Festival
Best Action Choreography Yuen Woo Ping Won [51]
Best Director Wilson Yip Won
Best Film Ip Man 3 Won


While many sources suggested that Ip Man 3 could be the final film in the franchise, Patrick Brzeski of The Hollywood Reporter stated that due to the film's strong commercial performance, he "wouldn't be surprised" if a sequel was made. Raymond Wong had expressed interest in making a fourth Ip Man film,[11] which Donnie Yen stated was possible if there was a good script, and if reaction to Ip Man 3 warranted it.[52] On 30 September 2016, Yen announced via Facebook that he and Wilson Yip would continue the franchise with Ip Man 4.[53] Filming began in April 2018,[54] although a release date has not been set.[55]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]