Blockbluster: Double Feature: Ip Man 3 / Kung Fu Panda 3
This past January brought us the third installment in two different kung fu series, both which started back in 2008: Ip Man and Kung Fu Panda. Today, we’re going to take a look at both recent installments.
Ip Man 3
Quick Summary: A loosely biographical film based on the life of Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man, who taught Wing Chun to Bruce Lee.
Genre: Action / Biography / Drama
Director: Wilson Yip
Cast: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Jin Zhang, Mike Tyson
Length: 105 min
Release Date: 2015-12-24 (Hong Kong), 2016-01-15 (UK), 2015-01-22 (USA Limited). 2016-03-04 (China)
More Info: IMDb
Ip Man – Official Trailer
Kung fu films have become a recent hobby of mine. They tend not to be the greatest films around, but much like a mindless action film, they usually have enough going on to help kill an hour and a half. Granted, kung fu films are a type of action film, but I think you know what I mean. I’m by no means a connoisseur of the genre, but I hold the first Ip Man film in high regard (of course, that’s out of a very limited pool of choices). Ip Man told the biographical tale of Ip Man, who is the Wing Chun Grandmaster who taught Bruce Lee, though none of the movies focus on that so far (I should note that there are plenty of films based on Master Yip, and that this review is only referring to the series of Ip Man films starring Donnie Yen as the titular character).
Like any sort of biographical movie, it takes its liberties in terms of historical accuracy, and while I’m not any sort of expert on the life of Master Ip, I’d wager a guess the liberties taken in the second and third film amount to roughly “complete fabrication”. As such, I go in just wanting a decent kung fu flick, so I can overlook any sort of “creative liberties.”
I’ll cover the plot briefly: there’s a crooked property developer trying to take over the land upon a school sits. Since he can’t get what he wants, he turns to crime to try to force the school’s hand. Master Yip won’t stand for this, so he goes around beating the shit out of people. Well, not quite, but close enough. The important thing here is that he beats people up, and the reasons don't actually matter. He also fights Mike Tyson. This is also important.
Since I keep talking about the fights, I should mention how they are in the film. Well, I’d love to drop you a video and let you have a look, but I’m not able to find any clips on Youtube right now. Anyways, the fights are decent enough to make this a fun flick for 2 hours, but it’s certainly not up to the same caliber as the first movie. This isn’t to say that good fights are absent, they just aren’t the highlight of the series. It helps that the film stars Donnie Yen, whose action skills onscreen probably have something to do with his extensive martial art knowledge.
Being a film from Hong Kong, all the dialog is in Cantonese, with US theaters playing the film in its original language and English subtitles on screen. I’ve always been one to vastly prefer subtitles over dubs, so this suits me just fine.
So it’s a decent kung fu flick, recommended for those who are fans of the Ip Man series, or even kung fu films in general. Just don’t expect anything jaw-dropping.
Kung Fu Panda 3
Quick Summary: Continuing the adventures of Po the panda, who now must face a great evil, as well as learn about who he really is. Not a very strong film, with few laughs to be had.
Genre: Animation / Action / Adventure
Director: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh
Cast: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan
Length: 95 min
Release Date: 2016-01-29 (USA & Canada), 2016-03-11 (UK)
More Info: IMDb
Kung Fu Panda 3 – Official Trailer (Moderate Spoilers)
Somehow, I of all people have ended up doing a review for another kids movie. How has this happened I’m not too sure (probably because it fit with the theme), but I’m going to instead blame it on practitioners of the dark arts. Presumably dark martial arts.
Anyway, here we have it, the third film in the Kung Fu Panda series. I was never a fan of the first two films, so I didn’t exactly have high hopes going in. That’s not to say there’s no merit in the series, just very, very little. Not surprisingly, the third film continues in this fashion, and ends up being the weakest installment thus far.
It probably doesn’t help that I don’t like Jack Black, the voice of our hero, Po. He (like the other voice actors) does a decent job, and manages to accomplish what he set out to do. Thing is, I just find what that is to be irritating. While I’m sure some people will find it charming, I just find it annoying.
The story focuses on two different points, one of them being that a great evil from the past has returned and it's threatening China. Meanwhile, Po tries to learn where he came from. Neither plot point is very interesting, though given that this is a comedy, I could forgive that if the laughs were frequent and funny enough. The jokes are present, but the punchlines lack any sort of power.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is a film that would probably be enjoyed more by children, but as Pixar has shown us many times, kids movies don’t have to suck. You can have films that appeal to both kids and adults. This movie does not continue in that tradition, but it is Dreamworks, which has never been nearly as strong anyway. Which makes this another skippable film in the end.
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