Top 20 Moments From Ip Man 4
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Timothy MacAusland
This franchise has produced no shortage of iconic moments. For this list, we'll be looking at the most memorable scenes in the final film of the “Ip Man” franchise. Our countdown includes Ip Man Arrives in America, Ip Man Bonds with Yonah, Lazy Susan Fight, Mid-Autumn Festival Showdown, Ip Man vs. Sergeant Geddes, and more!
Top 20 Moments from Ip Man 4
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Moments from Ip Man 4.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most memorable scenes in the final film of the “Ip Man” franchise.
Which moments most stuck with you? Let us know in the comments!
#20: Ip Man Arrives in America
As it progressed, the “Ip Man” franchise became more and more popular internationally outside its native Hong Kong. So it seems only fitting that the final installment would see the titular grandmaster have an adventure outside of China. In an effort to secure schooling for his son in the US, Ip Man travels to San Francisco, where he’s greeted by his friend Leung Kan (lay-UNG keune) and eventually his disciple Bruce Lee. Immediately we see the color palette of the film shift as Ip takes in the vibrant California scenery. However, Ip will soon learn that all that glitters is not gold, as the recurring theme of multicultural relations takes on a deeper level.
#19: Ip Meets the Principal
Despite being ever cordial and professional, Ip Man doesn’t get very far with the bureaucratic bigwigs upon arriving in the US. Case in point: the principal at the private school he wants his son to attend. With a substantial cultural barrier between them, she mistakes Ip’s standing as a martial arts master as relating to gymnastics. Collected, Ip doesn’t let misunderstandings interfere with his objective, but it’s hard not to be taken aback by the principal’s approach to recruitment. Claiming she needs his recommendation letter to come from the Chinese Benevolent Association, she then asks for a donation of $10,000 as an alternative. Ip Man may be one of the greatest martial artists of all time, but he’s not rich.
#18: Ip Attends Bruce’s Match
Though the producers held off for a while, there’s no question that a big selling point for the later sequels was the inclusion of Danny Chan as Ip Man’s most famous student Bruce Lee. Lee of course remains a supporting player, but his presence is greatly appreciated. After his early efforts to receive a letter of recommendation fail, Ip decides to see a friendly face for a change in that of a pre-fame Lee. Lee demonstrates his martial arts prowess to a packed arena, and receives a pleasant surprise upon spotting Ip in the audience. The two acknowledge one another, filling fans with glee at seeing the reunion of a truly legendary master-student duo.
#17: Cancer Diagnosis
“Ip Man 3” pulled on our heartstrings when it revealed that Ip’s wife, Cheung Wing-sing, (cheung wing sing) had developed a serious form of cancer. As such, we don’t necessarily recommend bingeing the two sequels back-to-back, as “3” ends with Wing-sing’s death and “4” begins with Ip Man’s own cancer diagnosis. Mind you, Ip’s outlook doesn’t seem as dire as his wife’s, but it’s somber all the same, especially for those who know the fate of the real-life Ip Man - who died of Laryngeal (luh-RIN-jull or lare-in-JEE-ull) cancer. Either way, from a narrative standpoint, this short scene does a great job of establishing the emotional stakes early on.
#16: Ip Meets Billy
“Ip Man 4”’s new setting offered no shortage of memorable characters, but none were so sneakily endearing as Billy. Acting as Bruce Lee’s emissary, Billy arrives in Hong Kong to extend an invitation to Ip Man to attend a martial arts tournament in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the language barrier contributes to considerable friction with Ip’s students … As in the opening scenes of the other films, a brisk fight erupts, one that’s swiftly broken up by the grandmaster himself. Nonplussed, Billy’s subsequent excitement is infectious, even if he’s initially unsuccessful in his mission. Regardless, Billy establishes himself as a welcome bit of comic relief for the film going forward.
#15: Ip Man Fights with His Son
After his son’s expulsion, Ip Man is convinced that he ought to continue his schooling overseas. This doesn’t sit well with Ip Ching, who’s indignant over his father refusing to let him learn kung fu instead. This leads to Ching verbally berating Man in an argument that comes to a head when Ching brings up the deceased Cheung Wing-sing. Ip Man has landed hundreds of hits on his enemies over the course of the series, but it’s a single slap to the face of his son that feels like it hits the hardest. This would only create a larger rift between the two Ip men when the elder of the two travelled to America.
#14: Bruce Lee Shelters the CBA
Bruce Lee has a contentious relationship with San Francisco's Chinese Benevolent Association, whose members disapprove of him teaching kung fu to non-Chinese. The tension is felt early on when the CBA decides to make Ip’s life difficult after he refuses to side with them against Lee. Yet when Sergeant Geddes forces his way into the CBA with the department of immigration not far behind, Ip leads them to Bruce’s school to lay low. Now united against a common enemy, the two sides come to empathize with their differing ideologies for the betterment of Chinese-Americans.
#13: Master Wan Gives Ip Man a Letter of Recommendation
Though Ip Man needs Master Wan’s (won) letter of recommendation to send his son to school in the US, Ip refuses to sacrifice his integrity by throwing Bruce Lee under the bus to obtain it. This quickly causes strife between the two masters, and arguably sets into motion the rest of the plot. Yet through sheer tenacity of will, Ip manages to gain Wan’s respect by the end of the film, who is now more than happy to grant his blessing. While at this point the good that’s been done outweighs a piece of paper, it’s the symbolic nature of the gesture that makes it feel so satisfying.
#12: Ip Man Bonds with Yonah
Ip Man makes an unlikely friend in Master Wan’s daughter Yonah upon rescuing her from some school bullies. He then escorts her home via the bus, but the real bonding begins when Yonah tries to forge a letter of recommendation from her father as a thank you. Ip, ever principled, destroys the letter, and proceeds to help Yonah sort through her paternal problems. After he encourages her to perform her cheerleading routine at the festival, she becomes excited at the opportunity to express herself in a way that’s all her own.
#11: Sergeant Geddes Infiltrates the CBA
At this point in the film, we haven’t yet seen the physical threat Sergeant Geddes poses to our protagonists, though we’ve certainly felt it. Vowing to get retribution for his karate master’s defeat at the hands of Ip Man, Geddes storms into the Chinese Benevolent Association with an axe to grind. Though severely outnumbered, Geddes incapacitates each of his adversaries with brutal, hard-hitting punishment, and easily extorts the location of Master Wan out of the last man standing. As far as fight scenes go, it’s one of the shorter of the series, but it firmly establishes Geddes as a force to be reckoned with and arguably Ip’s most intimidating foe to date.
#10: SSgt Hartman vs. Colin
Ironically enough, some Americans have difficulty welcoming and learning from other cultures, though none more so than the movie’s villain, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Geddes. When the Asian-American Staff Sergeant Hartman brings a wooden Wing Chun training dummy onto the base, Geddes is having none of it. Unwilling to take Chinese kung fu seriously, Geddes has Hartman go up against karate master Colin to prove himself and the martial art. Hartman indeed has some skills, but he unfortunately doesn’t have the physique to best his opponent. Thinking he was proven right, Geddes makes an example out of Hartman by making the Chinese troops run laps while the training dummy burns, establishing himself as one despicable antagonist not to be trifled with.
#9: Lazy Susan Fight
One extraordinary thing about these movies is that the martial artists on display have a knack for turning any setting into a fighting ground and any object into a weapon, even something as innocuous as a lazy Susan. In this scene, Ip Man comes to San Francisco’s Chinese Benevolent Association looking for endorsement for his son to attend school in America. The CBA’s chairman Master Wan is more than happy to write a letter of recommendation, provided that Ip Man denounce his former student Bruce Lee for teaching kung fu to non-Chinese. Ip refuses, leading the two to express their strain on the table’s centerpiece. Neither relents, and so the heavy, glass turntable has no choice but to shatter.
#8: Sergeant Geddes vs. Master Wan
If there’s one thing we’ve seen in these movies, it’s protagonists holding their ground in the face of injustice despite getting a serious beatdown for it. Said injustice again comes in the form of Sergeant Geddes, who seeks out Master Wan for retribution for one of his fighters’ defeat - more on that later. Wan accepts his challenge, and the two head to the Marine base to settle their differences. At first it looks as if Geddes is going to have to eat crow for his ignorance, with Wan proving too quick for him. However, Geddes is able to stay staunch and land some killer blows, sending Wan to the mat. Wan ultimately loses, but his resilience in the face of adversity speaks volumes.
#7: Schoolyard Fight
Seeing Ip Man’s exploits in America means we get to see him kick butt in different environments than in previous movies. After meeting with the high school principal to see about his son’s potential enrollment, Ip comes across Wan’s daughter Yonah being accosted by a mean girl and her boyfriend’s cronies. Though Yonah fights back to some extent, she’s simply outnumbered. Ever the one to defend the innocent, Ip Man intervenes and gives the jocks a whooping they aren’t liable to forget. Sure, they’re adolescents, so Ip doesn’t go too hard on them, but he brandishes enough gusto to give them a taste of their own medicine, essentially spanking them with their own hockey sticks like they’re petulant children. Good on you, Ip.
#6: Alleyway Fight
Here’s where Sergeant Geddes’s karate fighter gets embarrassed by Chinese kung fu when he was trying to do just the opposite. Black-belted Colin arrives at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinatown looking for trouble and gets it when he faces a quartet of kung fu masters. He takes down the first three with relative ease, each dwarfed by his impressive stature, but he gets more than he bargained for when Ip Man steps up to face him. Astonishingly, Ip is able to use Colin’s weight and force against him, sending him to the ground on multiple occasions and redirecting him in midair on another. It’s a decisive enough victory for Ip Man and kung fu to send the crowd into a frenzy.
#5: Mid-Autumn Festival Showdown
Here’s where Sergeant Geddes’s karate fighter gets embarrassed by Chinese kung fu when he was trying to do just the opposite. Black-belted Colin arrives at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinatown looking for trouble and gets it when he faces a quartet of Wing Chun masters. He takes down the first three with relative ease, each dwarfed by his impressive stature, but he gets more than he bargained for when Ip Man steps up to face him. Astonishingly, Ip is able to use Colin’s weight and force against him, sending him to the ground on multiple occasions and redirecting him in midair on another. It’s a decisive enough victory for Ip Man and kung fu to send the crowd into a frenzy.
#4: Ip Man vs. Master Wan
Don’t worry, they wouldn’t just tease us with an awesome lazy Susan fight without delivering later on. Convinced Ip Man only rescued his daughter Yonah to make himself look better, Master Wan challenges him to prove himself worthy of a recommendation letter by engaging in a sparring match. With Yonah looking on trepidatiously, the two are as level as one would hope, with Wan even going one-handed to accommodate for Ip’s previous schoolyard injury. As if their contentiousness awakened something, an earthquake begins to rattle the house and lay waste to everything in it. Wan looks to postpone the match, but Ip Man dejectedly declines, leaving us to wonder who would have come out on top.
#3: Ip Man Tells His Son He Has Cancer
The impetus for the entire plot being Ip Man wanting to secure his son American schooling in light of his throat cancer diagnosis, this scene may have hit the hardest without throwing a single punch. Touched by the doting relationship between Master Wan and his daughter Yonah, Ip dials Hong Kong for the umpteenth time in an effort to reconnect with Ip Jin. Since the beginning, Ip Jin has been irate with his father for his refusal to teach him Wing Chun, but news of the diagnosis is the thing able to make him come to the phone. Once there, Jin tearfully pleads with Man to come home, and it’s now that we feel the full force of love they have for each other.
#2: Ip Man vs. Sergeant Geddes
Looking to wrap up the franchise, “Ip Man 4: The Finale” really needed to come through with its… well… finale. In proper “Ip Man” fashion, Ip Man arrives at the Marine base aiming to teach the deplorable Sergeant Geddes a lesson in humility and tolerance. With the Marines in attendance, the two duke it out to the brutal end. Geddes once again relies on his powerful legs and heavy boots to deal serious damage, but Ip proves too swift and punishing to Geddes’s weak points, breaking his arm and crushing his windpipe to the point that he can’t continue. With Geddes being escorted to the sick bay, Ip is given a round of applause by Hartman and the rest of the troops. Now that’s respect.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Ip Ching is Expelled
His Dissatisfaction with His Home Life Affects His Education
Master Wan Teaches Yonah
Though Strict, Wan’s Love for Yonah is Evident
Leung Gun (lay-ung gwun) Fails to Get a Letter of Recommendation
We See Firsthand the Prejudices Foisted Upon Chinese Immigrants
#1: Training Dummy Footage
It’s no secret that the “Ip Man” movies are largely sensationalized and fictitious accounts of the real Ip Man’s life. The fourth film is no exception, though it does end on a note that will have audiences feeling closer to the grandmaster. Upon returning to Hong Kong, Ip reunites with his son, who tells him he would rather learn kung fu than go to America. Ip demonstrates on a training dummy while Jin films, recreating one of the few footages of the actual Ip Man. This leads into a montage of the series’ most memorable scenes, a tactic other franchises have employed but this one completely earns. From there we see Bruce Lee attending Ip’s funeral, giving him and us a chance to say goodbye.