IP MAN 4: THE FINALE is a Fitting Conclusion to the Series

This week sees the release of the fourth and final chapter in the Ip Man saga, Ip Man 4: The Finale, thanks to Well Go USA on digital, Blu-ray and UHD. Once again Donnie Yen is back playing Grandmaster Yip, the originator of the Wing Chun fighting style that would later be popularized by his pupil Bruce Lee, and we begin to finally see that in this film. The pulpy series that has been running now for over a decade borders on propaganda at times in the best possible way, as Master Yip takes on anyone that would dare oppress the Chinese people.

The Film

This two-fisted entry picks up in 1964, shortly after the death of his wife, with Master Ip diagnosed with throat cancer. This sends the weary martial artist master, who finds he doesn’t have much longer to live, to San Francisco to find a school for his second son Ip Ching. He hopes after he passes Ching will get an education in America, but much to his father’s dismay he only wants to follow in his footsteps. As Ip Man tends to do, he runs into some trouble with the local Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in San Francisco, who are upset that his former student Bruce Lee is teaching westerners the ways of Kung Fu. They see this as a betrayal to their people, and of the leadership of the association, which is made up of Martial Arts masters — who also happen to specialize in the own particular flavor of Kung-Fu. Because of this, they refuse aid Master Ip in giving his son a recommendation, forcing him to turn to his former student Lee for help.

While this melodrama unfolds, a young Staff Sargent and disciple of Bruce Lee attempts to introduce Kung-Fu into the Marines, much to the dismay of his racist superior, played by Scott Adkins as this entry’s heavy. Adkins is deliciously evil here, spitting out venomous one-liners that just beg to be sampled on hip hop albums in the coming years. The Ip Man series has never been subtle, and this entry is no exception, with Ip Man dying of cancer yet still kicking the ass of racism and tyranny in the US of A, and its pretty great. Unlike previous entries, The Finale feels more relevant and satisfying with the current COVID-19 pandemic, which thanks to fear and lack of information has brought out the worst in our country. I can just see Master Ip throat punching anyone stupid enough to call it the “Chinese virus” in his presence.


Ip Man 4: The Finale was shot in 3.4K with a 2K digital master, so needless to say the presentation on the Blu-ray looks great and sounds impressive. The Dolby Atmos sound mix is very aggressive, and it definitely gave my sub a workout in the fight scenes. Given the film was shot in 2K, there isn’t much of an incentive to go 4K here unless you want to take advantage of the HDR; the film was presented in theaters with Dolby Vision, which is Dolby’s proprietary HDR. Extras here are sadly few and far between, with a few short EPK pieces. I would have loved a longer retrospective on the series, especially given this is was the final entry.

Final Thoughts

Ip Man 4: The Finale is a strong finish that sadly doesn’t leave much room for another entry, although we technically don’t see Ip Man die onscreen, so you never know. I almost thought they were going to transition the series to Bruce at one point, but that thankfully wasn’t the case. I am not going to lie, there are some cringey moments, like where Ip Man compares his love of martial arts to a young girl’s love of cheerleading, which is by far the weirdest subplot in the entire series. But the fights are spectacular as you’d expect, and seeing Adkins square off with Yen is a great final bout, and one of the series’ best to date. Yen has grown synonymous with the role over the years, and his performance here feels natural and effortless and gives the character a proper send off. Franchises like these are few and far between nowadays, so while I am sad to see the Ip Man series come to a close, I am glad it appears to be doing it on their own terms, sending Master Ip out on top.

Previous post ENDINGS, BEGINNINGS Finishes Before it Starts
Next post Interview: BEASTIE BOYS Talk Cinematic Influences: “UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG Meets MEATBALLS”