IP Man 4 is officially underway. Donnie Yen has announced that production has started on the fourth movie in the Ip Man franchise, which is likely going to be the last. Or, at the very least, the last to feature him. After all, these movies are based on a real-life figure and there's only so much one can do when working with material like that. At least fans are going to get one more hopefully excellent martial arts movie out of the deal before Yen hangs it up.

Donnie Yen made the announcement in a post to his Instagram. The post features a video taken from the set, with some of the cast and crew gathered around a food table. It's a fun, if not all that revealing video. But the important thing is, Ip Man 4 is underway and, with any luck, we may be able to see it in theaters before the end of the year. Here's the caption Yen provided with the post, which has been roughly translated to English, but the spirit of what he's trying to say comes through just fine.

"I believe Ipman movies inspired millions not because we had created a hero, it's because it was about the spirit and the integrity of a man,a man who love his family and country,April 7, first day of shooting, from the first three episodes, I'm again, continuing this 4th and probably the last missionary journey!"

The Ip Man movies are based on the true story of a martial arts master, played by Donnie Yen, who lived from 1893 to 1972. The real Ip Man created the style known as Wing Chun. One of his claims to fame is that the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee was one of his students. The first two movies in the franchise did not feature Bruce Lee as a character, instead focusing on the man's early years. Initially, there were plans to use a CGI version of Bruce Lee in order to bring the character to the franchise. Likely for the better, the role ultimately went to actor Kwok-Kwan Chan.

Wilson Yip, who has directed all three previous Ip Man movies, is set to return for Ip Man 4 as well. While few plot details are currently available, it looks like Ip Man 4 will see the character return to the United States to work with Bruce Lee, who has decided to open up a Wing Chun studio in Seattle, Washington. So it sounds like Kwok-Kwan Chan will star alongside Donnie Yen again.

With appearances in movies like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, American audiences are now more exposed to Donnie Yen. So, it's possible that Ip Man 4 could wind up doing better at the box office as a result. Ip Man 4 does not yet have a release date, but late 2018 or early 2019 would make sense, given that the movie is currently in production. Be sure to check out Donnie Yen's Instagram video announcing the start of production for yourself below.

Ryan Scott