‘Ip Man’ trilogy closes and pays final tribute to the man who taught Bruce Lee his fighting style

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“Ip Man 3” is a sort-of superhero story. The final chapter in director Wilson Yip’s “Ip Man” trilogy, it completes the story of Yip Man, the grand master of the Wing Chun fighting style and the man who counted Bruce Lee among his students.

“Ip Man 3” liberally mixes fact and fiction in mythologizing its subject. Yes, Yip was likely a cool-headed individual who, even when engaged in battle, carried the serenity of someone watering his plants. No, he never fought Mike Tyson in a warehouse.

But that’s the fun of this wacky tribute, which is reverential of Yip Man, but isn’t afraid to loosen up. What biopic wouldn’t be spruced up by its hero fighting Mike Tyson in a warehouse? (Looking at you, “Lincoln.”)

Donnie Yen returns to the role of Yip Man, who is living a quiet life with his wife and son in Hong Kong in 1959. When his son gets into a fight at school, he meets with the other child’s father, Cheung Tin-chi (Jin Zhang), who is also quite the fighter. They wind up at odds, and square off in an epic clash to decide the true master of Wing Chung. (It’s a safe bet that Yip will end up fighting most men he comes across — this is, after all, a Kung Fu movie.)

And then there’s Tyson. He plays Frank, a corrupt real estate developer, which doesn’t really matter. What matters is he challenges Yip to a fight, and Yip goes three minutes with the former champ. And like watching Travolta dance in “Pulp Fiction,” it’s a giddy thrill to see Tyson throw punches again.

There are plenty of such giddy thrills to be had. Early in “Ip Man 3,” Yip is visited by a young Bruce Lee, and Yip decides he’s not ready for training. But if it led to an “Ip Man 4,” who’d complain?

agraham@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/grahamorama

‘Ip Man 3’

GRADE: B-

Rated PG-13 for sequences of martial arts violence and brief strong language

Running time: 110 minutes

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