A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Master Z: Ip Man Legacy is a spin-off of the Ip Man series; it follows a character who was defeated by the hero in 2015's Ip Man 3. The movie highlights the beauty of martial arts but also has brutal violence. In addition to tons of martial arts fighting, expect guns and shooting, severed limbs, characters being attacked and killed, and, worst of all, a woman who's beaten and then killed by having drugs forcibly stuffed down her throat. A child is injured in a fire and punched by a bully. Drug dealing is part of the plot: A supporting character is an opium addict (she's seen smoking and having withdrawals), and social drinking is shown throughout. Language is infrequent but includes uses of "a--hole," "son of a bitch," and "goddamn." A woman is shown in her bra and panties, and characters flirt in bars. Overall, the movie is spirited and well crafted and recommended for mature martial arts fans.
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What's the story?
In MASTER Z: THE IP MAN LEGACY, Cheung Tin-chi (Max Zhang) is trying to move on after being defeated by Ip Man in Ip Man 3. He briefly works as a mercenary before deciding to live a quiet life as a grocer and raise his son. While on a delivery, Tin-chi notices an opium addict, Nana (Chrissie Chau), and her friend Julia (Liu Yan) being hassled by a thug, Tso Sai Kit (Kevin Cheng), over debts. Tin-chi intervenes and defeats Kit and all his men. Unfortunately, this brings unwanted attention to Tin-chi, and his store is burned down. He's taken in by Julia's brother, Fu (Xing Yu), and given a job in Fu's bar. Meanwhile, while syndicate leader Kwan (Michelle Yeoh) -- Kit's sister -- wishes to make her organization legit, Kit wants to move further into illegal drugs. And so Tin-chi finds himself in the crossfire between a hired assassin (Tony Jaa), a crooked restaurateur (Dave Bautista), and other criminals. It's time to call on his Wing Chun skills once more.
Is it any good?
What could have been a feeble attempt to ride on the coattails of Donnie Yen's franchise turns out to be an exhilarating, tightly paced, expertly crafted martial arts romp. Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy succeeds mostly thanks to its legendary director, Yuen Woo-ping, who's best known for choreographing the poetic fight scenes in The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the Kill Bill movies. He's still at the top of his game here, emphasizing clarity, fluidity, and beauty of movement; the impact is still violent, but -- aside from one character's brutal murder -- it's more exciting than shocking overall.
Another winning factor is the lead performance by Max Zhang (Pacific Rim: Uprising) in a strong but sympathetic role. Tin-chi is fueled by his defeat at the hands of Ip Man, but he's not pathetic or whiny. He accepts his loss with dignity and begins to take pride in his new roles as father and working man -- yet he still chooses to do the right thing, at great risk. It's too bad that the other "stars" advertised so prominently (Yeoh, Bautista, and Jaa) have such small roles (and that Guardians of the Galaxy star Bautista's role is villainous), but once this spirited, hugely entertaining movie gets going, that marketing ploy is easily forgiven.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Master Z: Ip Man Legacy's violence. How do the martial arts scenes compare to those of more brutal, evil violence? What's the difference? Can martial arts be both beautiful and violent?
How is bullying portrayed in the movie? Is it resolved satisfactorily? Why or why not?
Is the main character admirable? Does he ever act selfishly, seek revenge, or use violence for violence's sake?
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