Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Donnie Yen

QuickView: John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”


With Chapter 3, I cautioned that the John Wick franchise was on the verge of diminishing returns through familiar repetition; in Chapter 4 it collapses under the weight of its High Table mythology in an overwrought and charmless instalment that runs to nearly three hours. Visual style remains front and centre with fighting figures silhouetted against beautifully lit Japanese decor in Osaka before moving to a Berlin rave, slick with cascading water and neon. The action choreography contains plenty of impressive moments and attention to detail, like a body pivoting on an arrow-pinned joint, but they are strung together in a manner more exhausting than entertaining, with little sense of fighting through interconnected spaces. With better editing, much of the first hour could be excised. Atrocious dialogue belabours the flimsy plot (“It looks like we have a conundrum. A quandary, if you will. A real life dilemma.”), though some new faces are welcome — Bill Skarsgård’s sneering French villain is easy to loathe, whilst Donnie Yen offers the charisma that Wick seems to have lost, playing a blind assassin with largely nonsensical combat abilities. The last hour of the film soars: a kinetic chase across Paris to Sacré-Cœur displays some of the best driving stunt choreography in recent memory, and a lengthy fight up and down the stairs to the church shows Wick earning every step. This strong closing may explain the predominantly positive response to a lumbering action film at nearly twice the length of this year’s similarly stylised Sisu. For all the merit of its individual moments, I cannot imagine wanting to sit through Chapter 4 again.


QuickView: Ip Man (2008)

Ip Man quad poster

“I’m just a Chinese man.”

Ip Man

A pared back martial arts film that eschews wirework and bold colours for restrained realism, Ip Man‘s strength lies in Donnie Yen’s performance as the Wing Chun master most famous for teaching Bruce Lee. Yen’s reserved style exudes humility, with subtle gestures speaking volumes in a man for whom every movement feels deliberate. Wing Chun is built on the principles of softness and flexibility allowing one to counter an opponent whilst reserving the strength to fight back. The simplistic story reflects this idea but is less interested in historical accuracy of the Japanese occupation of China than with mythologising its central character as a peaceful patriot pushed to action in defence of his countrymen. Although it contains solid action, I hope for better storytelling as the series continues.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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