The film portrays itself as recounting the historical events in Ip Man's life before he created his Hong Kong school which would eventual train a number of famous martial artists, including Bruce Lee. This feels like a mere contrivance—and one which you may reasonably ignore—for scripting a beautiful wuxia film that looks very Wong Kar-wai.
The beautiful fight scenes are worth seeing the movie, which otherwise feels hollow. Much of the script feels rushed from one era to another, or from one fight scene to another. There is less internal dialog and development than in other Wong Kar-wai films. While still present, and perhaps for the best given that any more might have felt fake in the historical context, this leaves a flat feeling to the film.