Good Kung Fu does not depend on age or sex, but on how well you fight and this martial artist was the master. For this list we’re looking at the incredible fist-pumping, cheer inducing, and/or unforgettable battles of the biographical film series based on the life of the Wing Chun master.
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#20 Ip Man vs Hung Ga Gang
Hong Chun Yam may be one of the first to train under Ip Man after the Wing Chun master and his family moved to Hong Kong, but the young man clearly isn’t the brightest of his disciples, at least not yet. While trying to promote the school, Hong is taken hostage by students who practice the martial art of Hung Ga. Ip Man heads to the wet market to rescue him, but the attempt turns into a pulse-pounding battle involving multiple meat cleavers. Hong is able to hold his own despite the fact that his hands are tied behind his back, but it’s when ex-rival Jin Shan Chow and his gang appear to save the day that really makes this altercation so surprising.
#19 Sergeant Geddes vs Master Wan
If there’s one thing we’ve seen in these movies, its 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 defeats, more on that later. Wan accepts this challenge and heads to the Marine base to settle their differences. At first, it looks as if Geddes is gonna 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.
#18 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 beat his opponent. Thinking he was proven right, Geddes makes an example out apartment by making the Chinese troops run laps, while the training dummy burns. Establishing himself as one despicable antagonist not to be trifled with.
#17 Shanzao vs Two Masters
It’s 1930s China and this master of northern Chinese martial arts is looking for a fight, or two, or three. Heading to Foshan where Ip Man’s reputation as a revered martial artist is growing, Jin makes it his mission to take on the various schools of southern Chinese martial arts in the prefecture-level city. Not only does he successfully challenge and defeat two local masters in front of their respective students, but he’s also able to show off both his hand-to-hand combat abilities as well as his sword fighting skills. As Jin looks around for his next opponent, his consecutive victories are enough to scare off a third group of students who state that their master is conveniently out here.
#16 Elevator Fight
What American property developer Frank wants, he gets, well at least he will sure as hell try. Believing the Wing Chun master has gotten in the way of his plans, Frank sends a Thai boxer to do the job. Unfortunately, the attack happens while Ip and his wife are leaving a medicine shop, following her terminal cancer diagnosis. They are ambushed in an elevator, but Su Chart is of course no match for Ip Man. Not only is he able to protect his wife in these extremely close quarters, he’s also able to control his emotional turmoil to the point that his opponent’s defeat is both Swift and graceful.
#15 The 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 the scene, Ip Man comes to San Francisco’s Chinese Benevolent Association looking for endorsement for a 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 denounced his former student Bruce Lee for teaching Kung Fu to non-Chinese. Ip refuses, leading the two to express their strain on a table centerpiece neither relents and so the heavy glass turntable has no choice but to shatter.
#14 Master Hung vs Taylor “The Twister” Miller
If there’s one theme that persists throughout the Ip Man series, it’s that you have to defend your beliefs. Master Hung takes this to heart when British boxer Taylor “the Twister” Miller tries to turn Chinese martial arts into a laughingstock. Hung is more than willing to accept the challenge, however in a literal East versus West showdown of fighting styles, Hung is soon overpowered by the hulking twister, whose ego only grows by the second in a pure rocky form. Ip Man is prepared to throw in the towel on Hong’s behalf only for Hung to insist the fight go on, and if you’ve seen the mentioned movie you know the heartbreaking and brutal moments that happen next.
#13 Ip Man vs Master Wan
Don’t worry, it wouldn’t just tease us with an awesome lazy susan fight without delivering later on. Convinced Ip Man only rescued his daughter Yona to make himself look better, master Wan challenges him to prove himself worthy of a recommendation letter, by engaging in a sparring match. With Yona looking on trepidatiously, the two are as level as one would hope, with one even going one-handed to accommodate for its previous schoolyard injury. As if their contentiousness awakens 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.
#12 Ip Man vs Cheung Fung
Throughout Ip Man 3, Cheung tin Chi and Ip Man were always in quiet contention. That is until act 3 when Cheung begins making moves to proclaim himself as the true master of Wing Chun, calling its methods into question. In the battle for Wing Chun, Ip and Cheung hold an ostensibly private sparring match to settle the matter for good. Using everything from six-and-a-half point polls and butterfly swords to their bare hands, at one point Ip is blinded and has to rely on only his hearing to dodge strikes, but he ultimately overcomes when he pulls out the fabled one-inch punch. Humbled Cheung accepts defeat and rescinds his claim,m but not before we got one hell of a duel.
#11 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 Yona being accosted by a Maine girl and her boyfriend. Though Jana fights back to some extent, she’s simply outnumbered ever the ones who defend the innocent. Ip Man intervenes and gives the jocks a whooping they aren’t liable to forget sure their adolescence, so it 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 it no one.
#10 The Mid-Autumn festival Showdown
Here is where sergeant Gedde’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.
#09 The Cotton Mill Fight
The Japanese invasion in 1937 devastated many communities, including Ip Man’s hometown Foshan. When the factory workers at the cotton mill find themselves accosted by northern Chinese martial arts master Jin Shanzhao and his desperate, thugs they turn to Ip Man for help. Helping them help themselves, Ip teaches them the ways of Wing Chun, and when the gang returns they are ready. While the workers never get the upper hand, they do hold their own long enough for Ip to arrive. From there, Ip Man confronts Jin.
#08 Ip Man vs Frank
When it was announced that legendary boxer Mike Tyson was joining the cast of It Man 3, we knew he had to be getting in on the action. Here he plays Frank, an American property developer trying to take the local schools’ land by force, and a hulking badass to boot. When Ip Man confronts Frank in his office, Frank agrees to back down if he can hold his own for three minutes. Ip can sense a timer is set and the two duke it out. Frank initially proves too powerful for him, but Ip does well to attack his lower half as Frank is about to deliver what could be a knockout uppercut, the timer goes off and both freeze. Frank stays true to his word.
#07 The Alleyway Fight
When it’s over the top, with villains and bold plot developments, Ip Man four serves as a sort of ode to 70s martial arts cinema, the likes of which Bruce Lee popularized. So it came as a gleeful surprise to find actor Danny Chan as Lee participating in a bout that would fit right into one of the latter’s films. Following a tournament, Lee and his students are accosted by a gang of black belts. He’s quickly summoned to a nearby alleyway by their master where the two engage in a good old-fashioned face-off. It’s a well-choreographed fight, one that makes proper use of the environment and weaponry once nunchucks are introduced. Still, Lee’s greatest weapons are his feet and fists, as he gleefully proclaims victory.
#06 Ip Man vs Shanzhao
This one is probably the funniest fight in the series. Jin Shanzhao has entered Ip Man’s home in an effort to prove his Northern fighting style is superior to Southern. But Ip has a lesson, or two to teach. Jin comes out eager breaking several of his household items and promising to pay for each. Upon hearing all the destruction, Ip’s son rolls in on a tricycle in an I-told-you-so moment. Jin tries to cheat by bringing a sword into the fight, which Ip counters with a feather duster. Ip proceeds to beat him with it before giving him a little snack on the butt for good measure. You know what they say: the feather duster is mightier than the sword.
#05 Ip Man vs the Three Masters
If you want to set the stage for some tense battles you can’t do much better than a rickety table top surrounded by upturned stools. In order to legitimize himself as a Wing Chun teacher in Hong Kong, Ip Man must prove himself against the other local masters. He makes quick work of his first two opponents, tossing off the first and overwhelming the second. It’s when Master Hung hops up that he gets a real challenge, nearly getting knocked off himself in such close quarters. However, it’s almost impossible for either to get the upper hand and the two are so evenly matched that the table top splits in two before a winner can be declared. Yeah, we say Ip Man’s in.
#04 Ip Man vs Sergeant Geddes
Looking to wrap up the franchise, Ip Man 4 The Finale really needed to come through with its twelfth 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 it proves to Swift punishing 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 has given a round of applause by Hartman and the rest of the troops. Now that’s respect.
#03 Ip Man vs General Miura
The people of Foshan needed something to cheer about when the Japanese took over and, boy, did Ip Man give it to them. Going toe to toe with Karate Master general Miura in the city’s public square. Ip Man nearly falls off the platform twice early on but relies on his balance to recover. The scene is tense: as the better it man does, the closer Colonel Sato’s hand gets to his gun. However, the threat of death doesn’t stop him as we get to see just how Ip Man’s training has prepared him for this moment. When he’s victorious, the crowd erupts in celebration and then revolution, when Ip Man is indeed shot. Fortunately, he pulls through living to fight another day.
#02 Ip Man vs Taylor “the Twister” Miller
To completing the rocky four parallel Ip Man challenges “The Twister” in an attempt to avenge fallen Master Hung. Though their fighting styles differ, their bout does not lack excitement. Twister’s strength initially proves too much and when the judges ban Ip Man from kicking altogether, claiming it gives him an unfair advantage, he is stripped of nearly half his arsenal. Digging deep, Ip Man adopts master Hong’s fighting styles going for twisters head to disorient and ultimately defeat him. Now, with the platform to speak, Ip Man pleads that going forward, no matter the differences between eastern and western philosophies, there be mutual respect for one another, and he’s given a standing ovation for his boards of wisdom.
#01 Ip Man vs 10 Black Belts
During the first half of Ip Man, the Wing Chun master skills are often mythologized by the people of Foshan, though seldom seen. However, after witnessing master Yu being executed at general Miura’s dojo and suspecting that another friend met the same fate, Ip Man is through being coy. He immediately demands to face ten karate black belts. After getting his wish, Ip Man does not hold back breaking the leg of one, and heavily defeating all the others. He made a statement to not only general Miura but to us as well, proving that he was not to be trifled with.