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Review of Ip Man 4, The Finale

Marcelo has a B. S. in English Education and experience as a Spanish teacher. He enjoys science fiction and fantasy.

Plot

In this movie, Chinese martial artist Ip Man travels to California to find a school for his son. Once there, he finds himself caught in the middle of a cultural war between the Chinese and the Americans.

Heritage

The Ip Man movies are filled with several martial arts battles that are fun to watch, although some battles are more realistic than others (personally, I think the more realistic battles take place in the first movie).

But martial arts is not all these movies are about. The movies are built on defining events in the life of Ip Man, although artistic liberties are taken, and the Ip Man figure in the movies is less historical and more legend.

But what the movies are really about is the Chinese spirit: pride in the Chinese cultural heritage, of which Ip Man's wing chun is a product. By adhering to his cultural heritage (including a Confucian perspective), Ip Man is able to practice and teach wing chung, win the respect of his community, defeat his enemies, face life, and overcome foreign opposition.

Conflict

Overcoming foreign opposition is an important element in the Ip Man movies, which reflect on how the Chinese were generally treated by the Japanese, the British, and the Americans.

Although the movies focus on the persecutions the Chinese people endured, the movies do not imply that all Japanese, British, and Americans are bad. For example, in the first movie, Japanese Colonel Sato is presented in an entirely negative light, without any redeeming qualities: he is a coward who does not value human life. However, Japanese General Miura, though still a foreign oppressor, is presented as a powerful, arrogant, and yet honorable adversary. In the second movie, the main British characters are largely depicted as racists, but eventually the British people and the British authorities are redeemed in the end: the British people learn to value the Chinese, and the British authorities intervene to put an end to the oppression that was taking place.

Americans

In the fourth movie, the conflict is with the Americans, particularly white Americans in power—whether they be business owners, law enforcement, military, cheerleaders, or kids at school.

But all Americans are not bad. Black Americans are portrayed in a favorable light, and white Americans are redeemed in the end, when they are willing to recognize the accomplishments of the Chinese people and use their martial arts in the military.

Christian Perspective

Christians, who have been persecuted throughout history and all over the world, should empathize with all who are oppressed and persecuted, and should sympathize with attempts to promote an end to all forms of racism.

Moreover, Christians should recognize that, although all human beings are sinners in need of God's salvation, those who aren't Christians can develop views of life that embrace honor and virtue, against which Christianity has nothing to say. Recognizing this human ability enables us to find common ground with those who aren't Christians and live in peace with them

Personal Response

I imagine that, if you are Chinese, you find the Ip Man movies inspiring, that they make you feel proud of your heritage—as they should.

However, I found it hard to sympathize with how white Americans and the Marine Corps were portrayed in the fourth movie (my stepdad is a white American, I married a white American, my son is a white American, and I have two relatives who served in the Marine Corps). I kept wondering if this depiction was fair—and maybe that's what the movie wants to do, maybe the movie is some kind of a protest against the way white Americans have treated minorities in America, and maybe it aims to cause white Americans to wonder what they can do to change the way minorities perceive them.

What do you think?

© 2020 Marcelo Carcach