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The Grandmaster: News (English)

 
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Sandy
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:30 pm    Post subject: The Grandmaster: News (English) Reply with quote

Wong Kar Wai returns with new film 'The Grandmaster'



(AFP) – Jan 6, 2013

BEIJING — Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's long-awaited martial arts film "The Grandmaster" was shown in public for the first time in Beijing on Sunday, after more than six years in production.

The film spans several decades of Chinese history to tell the story of legendary martial artist Yip Man, who went on to train Bruce Lee, and features lengthy battles between rival kung fu masters.

Wong, 54, is best known for his 2000 slow-burn drama "In the Mood for Love".

His new film, packed with Chinese stars including Hong Kong actor Tony Leung and Beijing-born starlet Zhang Ziyi, appears well placed to capture the local audience.

In his first press appearance to promote the film, Wong was also confident that "The Grandmaster", which runs for over two hours in its current edit and is steeped in traditional martial arts culture, would be well received abroad.

"There is no such thing as a Western or Eastern audience... the elements of cinema are the same worldwide, although their expression is different," said Wong, wearing his trademark dark glasses.

The film, set to hit Chinese cinemas on Tuesday, follows its lead character through some of China's most tumultuous recent history including the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.

It has been delayed several times, amid rumours of extensive reshooting and injured actors, but Wong shrugged off claims that the filming had taken too long.

"It felt like three years of university... we didn't want filming to end," he said.

Leung, 50, who plays the eponymous "Grandmaster" and has also starred in several of Wong's most acclaimed films, praised his co-star Zhang, 33, for her persistence while filming long fight scenes, which they enacted themselves.

"I fought with her a lot of times," he said. "She was injured several times, and I knew it was tough for her, but it wasn't possible for me to fight less intensely."

Shanghai-born Wong, who was raised in Hong Kong, enveloped himself in Chinese martial arts while researching the film's script, travelling across the country to meet kung fu masters and historians, a process he described as "like discovering a completely new world".

He also defended the length of his final edit, which contains extended stretches of dialogue between the main characters.

"The film could have lasted four hours, but I deleted a lot of scenes... a one hundred and thirty minute film is normal these days," he said.

Wong made his international breakthrough in 1994 with "Chungking Express" and was the first Chinese director to sit on the jury at Cannes.

In February he will lead the jury of the Berlin film festival, which traditionally highlights Asian cinema.

Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved.

===============
"The Grandmasters" debuts across China

BEIJING, Jan 08, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- "The Grandmasters," a film starring Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung, debuted Tuesday across China.

The action film from director Wong Kar-wai follows the inspiring story of how noted Chinese kung fu master Yip Man settled disputes in martial arts circles and created his own kung fu school.

Wong spent about 10 years shooting the film, making it the most time-consuming production in Chinese film history.

"The role I played in the film is a mixture of Bruce Lee and his 'Shifu' Yip Man," said Leung, a popular actor from Hong Kong, adding that he gained a new perspective on Chinese martial arts during shooting.

Zhang said at a press conference that she may not appear in another action film after "The Grandmasters."

"One reason is that it is too exhausting to shoot an action film, and the other is that the action performance of 'Gong Er' (the role she played in the movie) has peaked. I don't think there will be another role for me that will surpass this one," the Beijing-born movie star said.

Both Zhang and Tony complained that shooting the action-packed movie agitated old injuries.

Zhang described her character Gong Er as more determined and lonely than other characters she has played in the past, including Jen in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and Ru Yue in "Hero."

The film will hit theaters worldwide, but a detailed schedule is not yet available.

Wong, 54, is best known for his films "Chungking Express" (1994) and "In the Mood for Love" (2000). He will head the jury of the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/entertainment/2013-01/08/c_132089146.htm

===================
Grandmaster shown to public

Source: Daily the Pak Banker (Lahore, Pakistan). (Jan. 7, 2013):

Document Type: Article

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2013 Plus Media Solutions

Full Text:

BEIJING: Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai s long-awaited martial arts film "The Grandmaster" was shown in public for the first time in Beijing on Sunday, after more than six years in production.

The film spans several decades of Chinese history to tell the story of legendary martial artist Yip Man, who went on to train Bruce Lee, and features lengthy battles between rival kung fu masters.

Wong, 54, is best known for his 2000 slow-burn drama "In the Mood for Love".

His new film, packed with Chinese stars including Hong Kong actor Tony Leung and Beijing-born starlet Zhang Ziyi, appears well placed to capture the local audience.

In his first press appearance to promote the film, Wong was also confident that "The Grandmaster", which runs for over two hours in its current edit and is steeped in traditional martial arts culture, would be well received abroad.

"There is no such thing as a Western or Eastern audience the elements of cinema are the same worldwide, although their expression is different," said Wong, wearing his trademark dark glasses.

The film, set to hit Chinese cinemas on Tuesday, follows its lead character through some of China s most tumultuous recent history including the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.

It has been delayed several times, amid rumours of extensive reshooting and injured actors, but Wong shrugged off claims that the filming had taken too long.

"It felt like three years of university... we didn t want filming to end," he said.

Leung, 50, who plays the eponymous "Grandmaster" and has also starred in several of Wong s most acclaimed films, praised his co-star Zhang, 33, for her persistence while filming long fight scenes, which they enacted themselves.

"I fought with her a lot of times," he said. "She was injured several times, and I knew it was tough for her, but it wasn t possible for me to fight less intensely."

Shanghai-born Wong, who was raised in Hong Kong, enveloped himself in Chinese martial arts while researching the film s script, travelling across the country to meet kung fu masters and historians, a process he described as "like discovering a completely new world".

He also defended the length of his final edit, which contains extended stretches of dialogue between the main characters.

"The film could have lasted four hours, but I deleted a lot of scenes... a one hundred and thirty minute film is normal these days," he said.

Wong made his international breakthrough in 1994 with "Chungking Express" and was the first Chinese director to sit on the jury at Cannes.

In February he will lead the jury of the Berlin film festival, which traditionally highlights Asian cinema.

Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)
"Grandmaster shown to public." Daily the Pak Banker [Lahore, Pakistan] 7 Jan. 2013. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony Leung says no soured ties with Wong Kar-wai



Originally published Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:04 AM

For a director and actor who have worked together for about two decades, there did not seem to be much chemistry between Wong Kar-wai and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai at a news conference promoting their new movie "The Grandmaster" on Wednesday.

By HEATHER TAN, Associated Press

http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2020191252_apassingaporepeopletonyleung.html

SINGAPORE —

For a director and actor who have worked together for about two decades, there did not seem to be much chemistry between Wong Kar-wai and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai at a news conference promoting their new movie "The Grandmaster" on Wednesday.

Wong kept his arms folded most of the time and Leung did not look his way when Wong answered questions from the media.

However, Leung dismissed rumors of tensions and unhappiness with his director over having some of his scenes from the movie cut.

"I don't harbor any unhappiness or ill feelings toward Wong because I respect and understand his decision," Leung said in response to a question. "The decision is entirely up to him to decide how his story should be told."

"The Grandmaster," which reportedly took 17 years to complete, is Leung's seventh collaboration with Wong and recounts the life story of Chinese martial arts legend Ip Man, famous for having trained Bruce Lee.

"I wanted to see a different Tony for this movie and I believe that `The Grandmaster' has proven to be a new challenge for him both physically and emotionally with the amount of time taken to film it," Wong said in support of Leung. "It is a new way of showcasing the character of Ip Man so it was physically challenging for Tony to undergo training for so many years just to prepare for the role."

While the two seemed to be on civil terms toward the end of the news conference while posing together for photos, they still maintained a certain amount of distance.

Leung and Wong's collaboration in the 2000 movie "In the Mood for Love" won Leung international recognition and the Cannes Film Festival's Best Actor award. Their relationship is said to have soured when Leung learned that scenes from "The Grandmaster" had been cut to favor his co-star, Zhang Ziyi, who plays the daughter of his rival.

As the co-stars were reported to have filmed their scenes separately, Leung remained oblivious to Zhang's screen time. Leung also said that his work in the movie served as second fiddle to Zhang's role.

Wong, however, defended his decision to reduce Leung's film time by saying that Ip Man was a man of few words and thus he felt it necessary to remove as many dialogue scenes as possible.

The move prompted Leung's wife, Hong Kong celebrity Carina Lau, to take to her microblog to criticize her husband's role in the movie as being a "silent, colorless ghost."

The movie has faced its fair share of obstacles, including Leung developing chronic bronchitis as a result of shooting at least 30 action scenes in the rain.

Leung is also believed to have spent three years mastering the martial art of Wing Chun required for the role, and broke his arms twice in the process.

But the film's misfortunes turned into box office success by grossing $26 million in its opening week in mainland China.

It also scored more than double the box office sales of competitor Jackie Chan's action-comedy "CZ12" and went on to gross $1.04 million in its opening weekend in Hong Kong.

Three previous films about the life of Ip Man, which were not released in North America and most of Europe, made over $36 million.

"The Grandmaster" is to open next month's Berlin Film Festival, where Wong is to serve as jury president.

==============
Wong Kar-wai Scores With ‘The Grandmaster’

After a decade of preparation and three years of filming, Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster” opened in China on Tuesday, and any lingering questions over whether the movie would live up to its lofty expectations immediately evaporated.

Mr. Wong has made a martial-arts film for people who typically wouldn’t go to see an action movie, and an art-house film for audiences who resist ambiguity in their cinematic experiences.

Many of the kung-fu scenes are set in beautifully furnished parlor rooms that suggest the quiet intensity of a high-stakes chess game, but one in which the threats could mean life or death. It’s in these moments it becomes clear that Mr. Wong is showing his audience that kung fu is as much an intellectual pursuit as it is a sport of strength and physical superiority.

Fans of Mr. Wong, one of Asia’s most prominent filmmakers and a regular fixture on the international film-festival circuit, have been eagerly anticipating “The Grandmaster.” More than five years have passed since the Hong Kong director released his last full-length feature film, “My Blueberry Nights” starring Norah Jones, and it’s been nearly nine years since his last Chinese-language film, “2046.”

Critics were quick to praise “The Grandmaster.” Variety said the film “exceeds expectations,” while Twitch described it as “an action-packed visual feast.”

The movie follows the life of Ip Man, the real-life instructor of the Wing Chun style of kung fu, who was born in Foshan in 1893 and died in Hong Kong in 1972. (A young Bruce Lee was among his students, although his character doesn’t appear in the new film.)

Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays Ip Man; Zhang Ziyi stars as Gong Er, the daughter of a powerful martial-arts master from northern China and a kung-fu expert herself; and Chang Chen appears as a mysterious character named Razor. All three actors joined Mr. Wong at a press conference in a crowded Hong Kong shopping mall on Tuesday night for the local premiere.

Mr. Leung, who is known primarily for his dramatic roles rather than action, told the Journal that preparing for the role was a challenge.

“The action part was really tough for me,” Mr. Leung said. “We started practicing a year-and-a-half before the movie began shooting. … But we trained during the shooting, so we trained like four years.”

“The character is very much different from what audiences have seen before,” he continued. “With the role this time, we are trying to mix up Bruce Lee and the real man — Ip Man — together.”

“The Grandmaster” takes place mainly from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s — a turbulent time in China’s history, but one that the film doesn’t dwell on — and focuses on Ip Man’s tentative friendship with Gong Er and his rivalry with other kung-fu masters and their followers. The story also explores the deep patience, obedience and discipline that kung fu demands on its teachers and students.

The Ip Man character has become an extremely popular — and profitable — movie character in recent years, most notably with 2008’s “Ip Man” and its 2010 sequel starring Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen.

“The Grandmaster” opens in Hong Kong on Thursday and in Taiwan next week, ahead of its European premiere on Feb. 7 as the opening film at the Berlin International Film Festival, where Mr. Wong is this year’s jury president. The movie will screen out of competition.

Though the film runs two hours and 10 minutes, Mr. Wong said earlier this week that it could have lasted four hours due to all the footage he shot, which suggests that audiences someday could see a longer “director’s cut.”

The Chinese movie industry will now turn its attention to box-office receipts for “The Grandmaster,” which took in 29.8 million yuan ($4.8 million) on its opening day Tuesday, according to media-research firm EntGroup. By comparison, “Lost in Thailand” pulled in 39.4 million on its first day on Dec. 12.

“Lost in Thailand” has earned 1.17 billion yuan as of Tuesday, making it the highest-grossing Chinese film ever in the domestic market, EntGroup said.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2013/01/09/wong-kar-wai-scores-with-the-grandmaster/
(See videos at the link)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony Leung breaks arm in training for kung fu film

Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai broke his left arm while sparring with martial arts instructors as he prepared to portray Bruce Lee's kung fu master in a Wong Kar-wai movie, a publicist said Tuesday.

By MIN LEE, AP Entertainment Writer

Originally published July 14, 2009 at 3:12 AM | Page modified July 14, 2009 at 12:12 PM

http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2009466900_apashongkongpeopletonyleung.html

BEIJING —

Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai broke his left arm while sparring with martial arts instructors as he prepared to portray Bruce Lee's kung fu master in a Wong Kar-wai movie, a publicist said Tuesday.

One of the kung fu instructors kicked Leung during a practice session on Monday, breaking a bone in his left forearm, Agnes Leung, a publicist at Wong's production house Jettone Films, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Leung must rest his arm for several weeks but can continue to train on his kicks, she said.

Wong's movie about Ip Man, who trained Lee for five years when he was a teenager, was tentatively scheduled to start shooting in September but might be delayed depending on Leung's recovery, she said.

Wong's biopic will be the second about Ip in recent years. Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen played Ip in a 2008 Wilson Yip film named for the pioneering martial arts master.

Wong's version is being closely watched because it marks a rare departure by the Cannes-winning director from the art-house fare for which he is best known.

The director's most recent film and his English-language debut, "My Blueberry Nights," starred singer Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman and David Strathairn.

Leung is known for playing subdued characters like the melancholy writer who had a love affair with a married woman in Wong's "In the Mood for Love." That performance won him best actor honors at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. He most recently starred in John Woo's two-part Chinese historical epic "Red Cliff."
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leung: Wong Kar-wai's kung fu biopic action-packed

Hong Kong art-house filmmaker Wong Kar-wai is known for his slow, moody dramas, so when he announced his next project would be a kung fu flick, some were worried it would be more tears and talking than fists of fury.

By MIN LEE, AP Entertainment Writer

Originally published Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 3:25 AM

http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2010955557_apashongkongpeopletonyleung.html

HONG KONG —

Hong Kong art-house filmmaker Wong Kar-wai is known for his slow, moody dramas, so when he announced his next project would be a kung fu flick, some were worried it would be more tears and talking than fists of fury.

But the film's star, Cannes-winning actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai, admitted Tuesday that when filming of "The Grand Master" started, the action was so fast-paced that he "almost couldn't hang in there."

"This is a genuine kung fu movie," Leung said at a news conference, adding "there really will be many action scenes."

Leung is starring as the late Ip Man, a pioneer in promoting the wing chun style of kung fu who coached Bruce Lee in his teenage years. Wong's biopic is the second similar movie in recent years. Hong Kong director Wilson Yip's "Ip Man" was a hit in 2008, starring Donnie Yen.

Leung, however, promised it would be a very different take on the martial arts master.

It's guaranteed to be a sharp change in genre for Wong, whose films have drawn Hollywood admirers like Nicole Kidman and Sofia Coppola. His credits include "As Tears Go By," "Chungking Express," "Happy Together" and "In the Mood for Love." "Happy Together" won him best director at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.

His most recent film was the 2007 English-language release "My Blueberry Nights." Wong's English debut marked singer Norah Jones' first movie and drew an ensemble cast featuring Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Natalie Portman.

"The Grand Master" is now shooting in China with a cast that also includes Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and South Korean Song Hye-kyo.

Leung won best actor at Cannes in 2000 for playing a newspaper editor who has an affair with a married woman in "In the Mood for Love."
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Berlin Film Festival opens with 'The Grandmaster'

Martial arts epic "The Grandmaster" kicked off the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday, introducing an international audience to Yip Man, the man who mentored Bruce Lee and brought kung fu to the masses.

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press

Originally published Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 5:58 AM

BERLIN - Martial arts epic "The Grandmaster" kicked off the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday, introducing an international audience to Yip Man, the man who mentored Bruce Lee and brought kung fu to the masses.

The movie by Wong Kar-wai is running out of competition because the director also heads this year's jury.

Shanghai-born Wong and his fellow jurors - among them American actor-director Tim Robbins - will have to choose from 19 movies competing for prizes at the 63rd Berlinale.

These include the Steven Soderbergh thriller "Side Effects" with Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Gus Van Sant's film "Promised Land" about the shale gas industry starring Matt Damon.

Juliette Binoche portrays a troubled French sculptor in "Camille Claudel 1915," while "Gold" tells a tale of German immigrants seeking their luck in late 19th-century North America.

Competing also are romantic thriller "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman" with Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood, and "Closed Curtain" by Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi, who was barred from leaving Iran to attend the festival.

The winner of one award has already been announced. French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann will be honored for his life's work. Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half hour documentary "Shoah" about the horrors of the genocide of European Jews was screened at the festival in 1986.

In total more than 400 films will be shown at the Feb. 7-17 event known for its focus on social and political works.

Jury president Wong said ahead of the festival that Berlin was about the "experience of a true pleasure of sharing ideas" in the cinema.

Speaking Thursday about his own work, Wong told reporters that the biggest challenge while making "The Grandmaster" was the fact that he doesn't practice martial arts himself.

Wong said he was nevertheless drawn to the figure of Yip Man, Bruce Lee's mentor, because of his fortitude in the face of a lifetime of hardship, beginning with his childhood in Imperial China through the revolutionary years and ending in Hong Kong under British colonial rule.

"His life basically is like the modern history of the early days of our republic," said Wong. "During all these periods you can see how a martial artist stands up for his principles and his honor in front of all this hardship"

The international cut of "The Grandmaster" premiering in Berlin has been shortened from the version released in China last year. The film stars Tony Leung ("In the Mood for Love") and Zhang Ziyi, best known internationally for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Source: http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2020304287_apeuberlinfilmfestival.html

====================
Wong Kar Wai martial arts epic kicks off

AFP | 8th February, 2013

BERLIN: The 63rd Berlin film festival got off to a fists-flying start Thursday with Chinese director Wong Kar Wai’s lush martial arts epic about the mentor of kung fu superstar Bruce Lee.

Wong, who also leads the Berlinale’s jury this year, is using the event as a launch pad for the worldwide release of “The Grandmaster”, which opened in China last month to rave reviews and a box office bonanza.

The film, whose original two-hours-plus length has been chopped slightly for the global market, stars Hong Kong heart-throb Tony Leung from Wong’s 2000 hit “In the Mood for Love”, and Beijing-born actress Zhang Ziyi (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).

The picture, which was warmly applauded at a press preview, spans several decades of Chinese history to tell the story of legendary martial artist Yip Man, who went on to train Lee, and features mesmerising battle scenes.

Wong, 54, told reporters he was confident the movie, which is screening out of competition at the 11-day Berlinale, had appeal beyond China, the world’s second biggest cinema market after the United States.

“There is something in this film which is universal. It’s about family values and the code of honour,” he said. “If they are curious enough… it is also a step for (the international audience) to learn more, to explore.”

The film follows the Grandmaster through some of China’s most tumultuous recent history including the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.

It spent around a decade in gestation, with extensive re-shooting and injured actors.
Actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai attends a news conference to promote 'The Grandmaster' at the 63rd Berlinale International Film Festival. —Photo by Reuters

Actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai attends a news conference to promote ‘The Grandmaster’ at the 63rd Berlinale International Film Festival. —Photo by Reuters

Leung said he started learning kung fu at the age of 46, practised for four years for the film and broke his arm twice doing some of his own stunts. But he said the biggest challenge was capturing the Grandmaster’s state of mind.

“After four years of hard training I understand kung fu is not just physical training or fighting techniques,” he said.

“There is a spiritual side of kung fu and that side you cannot be learning from books or by fact finding. It grows spontaneously with the mind free of emotions and desires. That is why I had to practise four years.”

Zhang plays the sole inheritor of the “64 Hands” technique of her father, another martial arts master, and uses them to lethal effect in the tale of betrayal and vengeance.

She said she accepted the grueling training and filming schedule to work with Wong, who shot for 20 months over three years.

“If Wong Kar Wai asked me again to give this amount of time, I would do it again, that’s how great he is,” she said.

Reviews were glowing in the international trade press on Thursday.

“The film contains some of the most dazzling fights ever seen on screen,” the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

It added: “Wong’s art-house fanbase will also find much to savour, with the kind of longing that defines the filmmaker’s oeuvre,” in films such as “In the Mood for Love” and “My Blueberry Nights” with Jude Law.
Variety concurred: “Wong Kar Wai exceeds expectations…fashioning a 1930s action saga into a refined piece of commercial filmmaking.”

Wong, who made his international breakthrough in 1994 with “Chungking Express”, later joined his stars on the red carpet in his trademark sunglasses for a gala screening at the festival’s Berlinale Palast main cinema.

He is leading the panel handing out the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes among 19 contenders on February 16.

Wong told a press conference with his jury that the Berlinale was an “intimate” festival that cherished the “true pleasure” of sharing ideas.

“We are here to serve the films, we’re not here to judge films, we are here to appreciate films, to champion the films that we really find inspiring… and move us,” he said.

The first major European film festival of the year and traditionally its most politically minded, the Berlinale this year is showcasing pictures about the human impact of the West’s economic crisis, two decades of upheaval in eastern Europe as well as fresh releases from US independent directors.

Last year the Golden Bear went to Italian veterans Paolo and Vittorio Taviani for the docudrama “Caesar Must Die” about prison inmates staging Shakespeare.

Source: http://dawn.com/2013/02/08/wong-kar-wai-martial-arts-epic-kicks-off-63rd-berlinale/

===============
'The Grandmaster' opens 63rd Berlinale

Updated: 2013-02-08 13:02

Chinese director Wong Kar Wai who will also lead the jury of this Berlinale.

"Different from Cannes or Venice, Berlinale is a film festival not only dedicated to the film professionals and the media, but also to the audience," the Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

Greeting the opening of the grand gala Thursday, Kosslick said Berlinale takes pride in its comprehensive program and boasts the world's biggest audiences, and a consummate structure for a modern festival.

"Our film gala boasts the biggest audience, with 300,000 cinema goers and 20,000 professional visitors from 130 countries every year," he said.

"We have 9 more sections in addition to the competition program. The program of Panorama - which is dedicated to Arthouse cinema - and of Generation - which is our youth and childrens section - have already invited numerous films from all over the world, notably Asia." Kosslick said.

'The Grandmaster' opens 63rd Berlinale

Around 400 films will be put on in the 10 different sections, highlighting different movie types, according to the director.

Mentioning a program that combines screening with dinners afterward prepared by top chefs, Kosslick said it caters for a wide range of different audiences. "This is also interesting for the professionals that attend the European Film Market."

With regard to the themes and contents, the perennial Berlinale director noticed that many filmmaker did take their special views into the current society, by presenting "the fate of individuals" as well as "what is going on in a society."

This year's Berlinale introduces a new special series called NATIVE, which is devoted to cinematic storytelling of indigenous peoples, and this year the regional focus is Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S.

"NATIVE will give international audiences the chance to experience the diverse forms of expression and content of indigenous cinema," Kosslick said.

Looking into the future, Kosslick said the Berlinale had always been keen to move on and to establish new initiatives or cooperations.

"We started the Talent Campus 11 years ago as a creative academy and networking platform for 300 up-and-coming filmmakers from all over the world, and new trends and developments are discussed there and numerous participants found fellow filmmaking collaborators through the Campus", he said.

Berlinale also founded the World Cinema Fund to develop and support cinema in regions with a weak film infrastructure, while fostering cultural diversity in German cinemas.

"As the mentioned projects show the Berlinale considers itself not only as a platform to show films, but to encourage and support filmmaking, to inspire creative interaction", Kosslick said.

Concerning market demand, Kosslick said the Berlinale will "respond to the current trends and developments in the global industry and to tailor our offer accordingly."

Inretrospect of the past 12 years in reigning the Berlinale, Kosslick recalled he felt particularly proud of having generated many measures to amplify the festival in attracting new audiences and promoting the industry.

Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/entertainment/2013-02/08/content_16216253.htm

==============
Martial arts film genre popular in Berlinale

Updated: 2013-02-13 09:43 ( Xinhua)

Chinese martial arts films have a long-standing reputation for pulling in big box office revenues.

Wong Kar Wai's new film, "The Grandmaster", premiered Thursday to international audiences and opened the 63rd annual Berlin Film Festival.

Outside the opening gala a sea of Chinese martial arts fans waited to get a glimpse of the director and his lead actors Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi.

The film, which chronicles the life of Wing Chun master, IP Man, is an outstanding mix of Wong Kar Wai's poetic use of light, color and music combined with fantastic Kungfu fight sequences choreographed by the renowned Yuen Woo-ping.

Western audiences may love a good Kungfu flick. "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", Ang Lee's large scale Kungfu film won four Oscars in 2001 and grossed over $200 million worldwide.

The verdict has long been out that western audiences love Chinese fight films. But how much does the audience truly understand the complex philosophy of martial arts?

At the opening day press conference, Wong Kar Wai, who is also presiding over the Berlin Film Festival jury, said that there is "something in this film which is universal and I think it is about value about the family value, the code of honor. This is something that I think first of all I believe an audience and international audience can share, and about his endeavors to appeal to both Chinese and international audiences."

The first Chinese martial arts film, "Ding Jung Shan", was made in Shanghai in 1909. It introduced Wuxia, a traditional form of literature which used martial heroes in legendary tales, to the film genre.

Later Chinese martial arts films modernized in the 1960's and were popularized by Kung Fu superstar Bruce Lee who studied under the "Grandmaster", IP Man.

Today at the European Film Market in Berlin, there is no shortage of Kungfu films to be seen or to be sold.

Jeffrey Chan, CEO of the Hong Kong film Distribution company, Distribution Workshop, has spent the last eight years selling Chinese films to European and western buyers.

"Action or martial arts films would sell better than drama also obviously better than comedy. Because drama and comedy mostly would be harder for the international audience or western audience to relate to the cultural or social context as the drama happened," Chan said.

Berlin Film Festival Director, Dieter Kosslick recounted how the film made it's way to Berlin and what it is that really moved him to choose it as the opening film.

"I think we like Chinese martial arts films because the skills of these people to do their art is really great to look at," Kosslick said, "I think there was a peak at a certain time because it was so artistic that you started to have some doubts if they really can do it and if it's not special effects.

But the difference from Wong Kar Wai's film now, "The Grandmaster" you have the feeling that they are really doing it and they are doing it in which you have never seen this thing."

Tony Leung, who portrays the legendary IP Man in the film, studied Wing Chun for four long and hard years before making the epic.

Wong Kar wai, who began development on the film in 1997, visited over a 100 different schools of Kungfu in China during his research.

The film, which opened January 8th in China, has already grossed over $50 million.

Carlos Gonzalez, a film enthusiast and writer from Mexico, remembered that as a child, one of his favorite films as a child was "Enter the Dragon" of Bruce Lee.

"It was love at the first sight. It was just the way he moved and he talked with his hands. Different from having weapons in your hands, it is something we westerners don't have and I really like it and I appreciate it," Gonzalez said.

"I guess we want what we don't have. We envy the aesthetics that we see in Chinese films," he said.

Chinese martial arts films are to China what European knights and gun-slinging cowboys are to America. Universally, our heroes carry a certain code of ethics with them. They fight for good and in the end, restore our honor.

The Berlin Film Festival runs until February 17 bringing 404 films to the screens of Berlin. Only one lucky film will take home the Golden Bear on February 16.

Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2013-02/13/content_16221552.htm
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote




Martial arts epic The Grandmaster reduced Tony Leung to tears
By Elizabeth Soh | Show Buzz – Wed, Jan 23, 2013 7:02 PM SGT

Yes, the normally stoic and calm Tony Leung was so overcome by emotion when he saw the final cut of martial arts epic The Grandmaster that he cried.

"When I saw the finished piece, I had a moment of extreme emotion, and I cried," admitted Leung in Mandarin at the Singapore press conference to promote the film with director Wong Kar Wai on Wednesday.

"I was overcome by the feeling -- it was the fruit of four years of work and challenges."

Challenging would be an understatement -- Leung, 50, reportedly broke his hands twice during training during filming, and he even began taking Wing Chun lessons three years beforehand to prepare himself for his role.

The cast also had to film through rough weather conditions -- toughing it out in China on the coldest winter in ten years and then later through a sweltering summer. The movie's release was repeatedly delayed, reportedly due to Leung's injuries and many scenes had to be cut as there was too much footage.

But if box office figures are anything to go by, it looks like all that pain and suffering was worth it -- "The Grandmaster" has grossed about S$2.3 million in Hong Kong and S$60 million in China so far.

Yahoo! Singapore finds out from the Asian cinema dream-team why exactly the film took so long to be made and if rumours about Wong and Leung being at odds are really true.

Childhood dream come true

"I grew up reading martial arts novels as a child and I was always curious - was Chinese Kung Fu really as mystical as it seemed in the stories? Was it only something visually appealing or was it as invincible an art as what I read?" said the Shanghai-born Wong.

And so the notorious perfectionist set out on an arduous journey to find his answers, travelling across China to meet modern day pugilists and historians who were experts in the fields of Wing Chun, Baguazhang, Bajiquan, and Xingyiquan martial arts.

"I found that it was indeed as mystical and as invincible as my stories -- and I hope that this is reflected in the movie," said Wong.

Wong was so moved by his research that he made it a requirement for all his main actors to spend at least a year training under a kung-fu grandmaster in order to develop the "spirit" of a Chinese pugilist.

Discovering the 'soul' of martial arts

Veteran method actor Leung not only took on Wong's challenge but took it a step further, training for three years until he was strong enough to break a wooden board that was a few inches thick with one blow.

"You cannot find the true essence of martial arts in a book. You must find it through practice -- it is something that will take root in you and grow by itself. After three years of experiencing it, I can start to go beyond the physical aspects of kungfu to find it's true spirit," said the intense Leung, who plays the titular character in the story, Ip Man.

When asked if he ever thought of giving up when he was injured, Leung, who looked taut and trim in a white shirt and black cardigan, paused to find the right words to express himself.

"It (broken hands) was no big deal, you can also injure yourself exercising. What was frustrating was that I had to start all over again. I had reached this level at my training, and then the injury, and I was back at square one. But you just have to figure out how to overcome it."

Comparisons with Donnie Yen's Ip Man

However, fans expecting a straight-up, action-packed reboot of Donnie Yen's 2008 smash hit "Ip Man" may end up disappointed.

Wong's filming style remains cinematic and highly stylised with plenty of slow-mo cuts -- the focus being on the actors and their expressions of inner turmoil.

"To play Grandmaster Ip Man, Leung needed not just strength in body but also spirit and mind. He has exceeded my expectations of him as an actor -- this movie will show a totally different side to him," said Wong - high praise from a man of few words.

"He(Leung) has attained a very high level of acting - by just moving one muscle, he can completely change the expressions on his face and the feel of his performance."

Did Leung and Wong fall out?

It seemed like a silly question to ask after Leung and Wong had bantered with and praised each other repeatedly during the press conference, but rumour has it the two fell out after the release of "The Grandmaster" because Wong had cut many of Leung's scenes, placing the limelight on Chinese actress and co-star Zhang Ziyi instead.

Korean actress Song Hye Gyo, who plays Ip Man's wife, only received six minutes of screentime and has been conspicuously absent from all promotional tours for the movie.

Rubbishing the rumours, Leung said that he was not even sure himself how many cuts had been made.

"If Wong were to use all the footage, the film would be four to five hours long. Look at me, the product I am is the results of 49 years of experience, and it's impossible to share everything about me in one breath. The finished product is Wong's product -- I don't see it as a waste or a pity."

Leung also described the relationship between him and Wong as being one of "complete trust" and "unspoken chemistry" borne of 20 years of friendship and seven movies together.

"We have known each other for 20 years. Although we don't talk very often, we have a relationship of absolute trust. When you work with someone you trust completely, you only have to focus on yourself," said Leung.

However, he was coy about actress Song's absence.

"I have a lot of empathy for Song. I have shot many movies that are not in my native language and I know how it feels when you don't understand the language. It's like you're deaf and dumb," he said.

One last thing -- Wong would like you to know that no expensive qipaos (Mandarin gowns) were damaged by Zhang Ziyi during the three years of filming.

"She (Zhang) is a very cultured lady of impeccable bearing. She would not even sit in between takes so that the dress would not get wrinkled or untidy. I have told the young actors to learn from her," said Wong with a laugh.

"Be aware of your appearance, your behaviour and the impressions you make," he intoned, tongue in cheek.

Source http://sg.movies.yahoo.com/blogs/show-buzz/martial-arts-epic-grandmaster-reduced-tony-leung-tears-110253391.html
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wong Kar-wai on 'The Grandmaster''s Massive Success in China, the American Cut, and His Approach to Action

One of the biggest names in world cinema, Chinese director Wong Kar-wai has largely been MIA since the tepid reaction to his first foray into English-language filmmaking with 2007's Norah Jones-starring "My Blueberry Nights." The news that his next project would be the martial arts Ip-man biopic "The Grandmaster," was overshadowed by countless delays and speculation about how the director would handle a film as action-focused as this. Now with a hugely successful Chinese release and Berlin premiere behind it, a new cut of the film is set to debut in the U.S. this Friday via The Weinstein Company.

Indiewire called up Kar-wai to discuss the film's massive success in China where it's out-grossed all of his previous works combined, why he re-tailored it for U.S. audiences, and how he approached the fight scenes.

This film's been a long time coming. How good does it feel to finally release it stateside, following its success in China?

Yeah, it’s been a long journey. We had the idea in 1998 and then we had to wait. The film at that point was impossible because of the budget. And we had to wait until 2007 to start on this film. So it was a long wait and a long shoot -- three years. But at the end we really feel happy about it because what we wanted to do was a brand new kung fu film. We wanted to do something original.


"The Grandmaster"
Is it a relief to know that it has connected with audiences in China?

What makes me really happy is that now younger generations have more interest in finding the roots of this Chinese martial art. In China, traditional Chinese martial art is not supported by the state. It’s mainly run by individuals or private, so now there's more attention being paid to it. This makes me really happy.

How does the Weinstein approved cut I saw differ from the cuts that played in Berlin and abroad?

Actually we worked together on this version because we have an obligation to release a film within two hours in the United States. And the international version is actually two hours and seven minutes.The structure of the international cut is very delicate.

[For the American cut] I looked at the film, I spoke with Harvey [Weinstein] and Megan [Ellison], and then I started to work on this version. It’s actually a brand new version because there’s so much unseen footage in it. I built this structure; this is also another way to look at the film.

Did you tailor the American cut to simplify it for audiences who are not wholly familiar with Ip Man’s story?

No, actually. The American audience has a long following. They’ve been following kung fu film. I think they are, besides the Chinese audience, the experts in kung fu film. I wanted to make the film more straightforward, because there are things that we don’t need to explain. Basically I wanted to have more fun with Americans audiences here. Because when you look at the film, there are certain scenes that are not in the international version. It’s a homage to the kung fu films of the past.

Origin stories are all the rage now. What I found so refreshing about "The Grandmaster," was that it plunks the viewer right into the action without going into how Ip Man grew into his calling. What was your reasoning behind that approach?

When we looked at the story of Ip Man, I didn't want to make up some sort of history to make it more appealing to the audience. Just look at the life story of Ip Man. He’s basically from a very rich family, he was born with a silver spoon. So before 40, he’s handsome, good looking, very good in martial arts and has a very happy family. I think that’s very boring for the audience. And I didn’t want to create some kind of obstacle to make it more interesting.

And the film doesn’t solely focus on his story. I heard at one point the film was going to be titled "The Grandmasters," based on the fact that you switch perspectives throughout the film. Why did you choose to open up the film to include a bevvy of characters?

I can explain to you the metamorphosis of the film title, then you can have an idea. We thought to call this film "The Grandmaster" because we thought it was going to be the story of Ip Man only. Once we decided on showing the conflict between the north and south, we realized there were so many Grandmasters in the film. So we called the film "The Grandmasters." When we finished the film, we came to realize it’s not really about how many Grandmasters are in the film. We’re talking really about the state of mind of a Grandmaster. It is the path to be a Grandmaster. So we changed the title back to "The Grandmaster." So the meaning is different.


"The Grandmaster"
You had the actors undergo rigorous amounts of training to get themselves physically prepared for their roles. I want to know if you yourself partook in any training just to get a sense of the art, and also get a sense of what you were going to be putting your cast through.

I spent three years on the road to do interviews and attend demonstrations and meet with many great martial artists. I had so many opportunities and they all always said, "I think you would be good to learn martial arts and we’re going to teach you." And I said, "No, I can do it later. But not before I finish this film." Because I want to be like the audience. Most of the audience, they don’t practice martial arts. As a director, I wanted to see it from their point of view. I want to see from the outsider's point of view. But I’ve seen so many demonstrations and I’ve spent time with all these people. In fact it’s almost like: you know if this dish is good or not without being the cook.

Shooting a fight sequence is wholly new to you. What was your approach?

We have seen so many kung fu films, and they are getting more and more over the top. So at the point that you really have to question, what is Chinese martial art? Is kung fu just a trick or just a show? And that is also one of the questions that I had before making this film. At the end I decided, well it’s not a show. Because after my journey I was really convinced that Chinese martial arts is a skill, it’s a combat technique, it’s a weapon, it can kill. So the first thing I told Yuen Woo-ping, our choreographer, was that I wanted this film to be authentic. There’s no flying, there’s no crazy over the top action. It has to be very precise with the school. If Tony Leung is playing Ip Man, then his moves should be Wing Chun technique.

For all of the action scenes in this film, we worked with not only the action choreography team; we also had the actors' trainers on set. They’re all like the masters of their schools. So we worked together, and the funny thing is that when you work with the real martial artists, because they don’t know cinema, they would say, "Normally if we are that good, we don’t fight for 15 minutes, it’s going to be like one second. A punch can sometimes be so fast that you aren’t even able to catch it." That doesn’t work for film. So we had to go through the choreography, and single out every move to analyze the mechanics of the body. Because it’s not only a punch, you’re not moving the fist only. You have to see how the foot works, and how he turns his body and sometimes you have to enhance the speed of it.

Has the film's massive success in China impacted your plans going forward?

China is a huge market. If it weren't for that market, films like "The Grandmaster" would not be able to made. The opening of this market is giving, I think, not for me, but for Hong Kong filmmakers, a bigger playground to do their work, to pursue their dream.

So what’s next for you?

I’m still jet lagged (laughs). I will take a break because we’ve been traveling from January this year until now to promote the film across the world.

A well deserved break.

Source: http://www.indiewire.com/article/wong-kar-wai-on-the-grandmasters-massive-success-in-china-the-american-cut-and-his-approach-to-action
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lessons from 'The Grandmaster': Wong Kar Wai chronicles life of legendary martial artist Ip Man
Aug 21, 2013
-By Daniel Eagan

The Grandmaster, the latest film from Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, explores the life of Ip Man, a celebrated martial artist and teacher who died in 1972. This is the fifth movie about Ip Man in as many years, but as can be expected from Wong, whose works include In the Mood for Love and 2046, The Grandmaster approaches its subject obliquely, with an arresting attention to atmosphere.

A native of Foshan in Mainland China, Ip Man helped popularize wing chun, a school of martial arts, in Hong Kong in the 1950s. He is remembered today primarily for having trained Bruce Lee, the most famous martial artist of the past 60 years. For Wong, the key to Lee's appeal is not just that he was a superb fighter, but that he was a well-educated, civilized one.

"When you look at Bruce Lee's interviews, you can see how much Ip Man influenced him," Wong says in a Manhattan office. "And what's interesting about Ip Man is that he wasn't even supposed to be a fighter. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, a kind of aristocrat. He was elegant, very formal, from a class that doesn't exist today."

The director refers to rival Ip Man movies indirectly, pointing out how authentic The Grandmaster is. He complains that other filmmakers portrayed Ip as a movie character. "They have him fighting the Japanese, which is pure fiction, just to make him more heroic," he laughs. "I thought an audience would like to see that wing chun is not just about kicks and punches and beating people up."

To Wong, what made Ip so intriguing is how he responded to the political and social turmoil in China at the time. "He experienced so much," he explains, "the early days of the Republic, the Japanese invasion, civil war. He lost everything, even his two daughters starved. He suffered all this, but all the time he's not fighting a physical opponent, he's fighting with his time, he's fighting with the ups and downs of his life."

In The Grandmaster, Wong and his longtime production designer William Chang Suk Ping (working with Alfred Yau Wai Ming) had to recreate everything from a pre-industrial Foshan, with its drab monotones and hidden luxuries, to a vibrant, post-war Hong Kong filled with sun-bleached pastels. Chang spent years collecting fabrics, wallpaper and props. (Chang also edited the film with Benjamin Courtines and Poon Hung Yiu.)

Even more important, Wong insisted on getting the fight scenes right. "Lately you see all these kung fu films, they are like show," Wong says. "They are over-the-top, all effects and tricks. Viewers end up doubting Chinese martial arts. Is it just for show? Does it work?

"I'm a big admirer of Lau Kar-leung," Wong continues, referring to an influential martial artist and director in the 1970s. "He had a very specific style of kung fu film, really hardcore because he came from a martial-arts family. His films are very precise, very authentic. From them you learn his wisdom and philosophy, as well as his skill. And I thought, I hadn't seen a kung fu film like this for a long time."

Wong met with master action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, whose work stretches from kung fu classics in the 1970s to more recent Hollywood productions like the Matrix and Kill Bill movies. Wong insisted on a style of fighting that avoided wirework and impossible stunts. Making Yuen's task more difficult was the fact that the film's two stars, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Ziyi Zhang, had no serious martial-arts training.

Leung, who has starred in seven Wong Kar Wai films, says enthusiastically, "This is my most enjoyable movie with Gar Wai," using the director's nickname. "I knew my character from the first day of shooting, which I never experienced with him before. We never talk or meet on the set, I never watch the video playback, we don't even work with a screenplay, a complete screenplay, although I know he has one. But we are good friends for over twenty years now. If he knows what he wants, then I trust him."

The actor trained for four years before shooting, working with Duncan Leung, who met Ip Man through Bruce Lee, and his son Darren. "I used to think kung fu was just fighting techniques, defense, things like that," Leung says. "But it's very much like meditation, how to have a mind free from emotion and desire. It's about training your mind to achieve harmony with your opponent. You don't anticipate, you don't expect, you don't decide anything, you just follow your opponent's movements."

Wong quotes a Chinese saying, "'To fight is to kiss.' You have to get very close, you have to be confident, your whole body is pressed against your opponent. And there is this stillness—it's easy to trick the audience when you are moving, dancing around. The most difficult part is the pose, it has to be flawless. You move your hand like this," he says, demonstrating, "and it has to be flawless."

Wong decided to open Happy Together, a romance set in Buenos Aires, with a prolonged lovemaking scene, "so we could get the sex out of the way and let the viewers concentrate on the story." Here, he opens The Grandmaster with a nighttime fight that pits Ip against a dozen opponents. "We all know Tony is a good actor, but the people coming to this film will be asking, 'Can he fight?' So we had to make this scene right."

"It was a nightmare," Leung laughs. "I told Gar Wai this was the most difficult scene in my acting career. We have to do a master shot, so that means I have to fight like ten guys from the end of the street to here, and I'm feeling all this pressure, I don't want it to be an NG [no good] because of me. It's already difficult, and then he decides, 'It would be better in the rain.' Very heavy rain. Water this deep," he says, holding his hand above his ankle. "And I can't wear normal shoes because William Chang says the camera will pick them up."

The scene required 30 consecutive nights of shooting. "We slipped all the time," Leung remembers. "It was freezing cold, and we had to keep our costumes on all night long. After 30 days, I've got headaches, a runny nose, I'm taking all kinds of pills. When I get back to my hotel room, I'm catatonic."

About Gong Er, the role his co-star Ziyi Zhang plays, Leung jokes, "She is bad, a totally bad woman." But for Wong, "Gong Er and Ip Man are two sides of a coin. She's a fictional character, but based on the many great woman martial artists at that time. She's from the north, and represents the Bagua school of fighting. Like Ip Man, she's not supposed to be a fighter, it's a choice she makes, based on her beliefs and her loyalty to her father. The difference between them is that, unlike Ip, she decides to stay in her own time."

Wong shot The Grandmaster over a three-year period, in part because of unavoidable delays. Leung broke his left arm twice, for example. The director filmed all the action scenes first, saving the dramatic material for the last six months.

"We shot on film," he says, "because three years ago a lot of people were still working with film. Then one day I received a letter from Fuji, 'We are sorry to tell you this will be the last shipment because we are not going to produce the film stock anymore.' So it seemed like a good time to wrap the picture."

Wong completed a version for Asian audiences that ran a little over two hours. His U.S. contract with The Weinstein Company called for a shorter cut. "For many films you can just cut shorter, take out some scenes. But the structure of this film is very precise, so you can't just cut or trim."

The director prepared an entirely different version for the U.S. market, replacing some scenes and concentrating more on telling the story from Ip Man's perspective. "I skipped some of the build-up, certain introductions, and I showed more of his time in Hong Kong."

Soft-spoken, dressed casually and wearing his ever-present sunglasses, Wong grins and jokes frequently. He downplays the six years of work he put into the project, deflecting attention away from his methods. But when he describes specific scenes, you can start to appreciate the focus and determination he brought to filming.

But even Wong appreciates the essential contradictions in kung fu films. He remembers an argument on the set between wing chun and bagua trainers. "Ip Man always used a simple form, basically the shortest distance between two points is the straight line. But the bagua master said the straight line is not the fastest, the bagua timing is faster. And Duncan Leung points out, if these fighters are that good, they're not going to be fighting each other for fifteen minutes. But then we wouldn't have a movie."

Source: http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/news-and-features/features/movies/e3i285d75903e4718beb42572ba65a57616
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Berlinale 2013: Wong Kar Wai, Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi On Their 'Grandmaster'

"A lot of people have said that this is my first 'kung fu film,'" Wong Kar Wai said at the press conference for his film "The Grandmaster," which is opening the Berlin International Film Festival tonight. "And I say, it's more than that. 'The Grandmaster' is a film about kung fu, but it tells you more than the skill. It tells you about these martial artists and their world. What is their code of honor? What is their value? What are their philosophies? I think this is something that is really fascinating. I hope this film can bring audiences a new perspective on martial art, kung fu and also the Chinese."
The long-gestating film is Wong's first since his English language debut "My Blueberry Nights," which opened Cannes back in 2007. It chronicles the life of the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man from the 1930s in Foshan to the events leading to his death in 1972. It's been a story in Wong Kar Wai's mind since 1999, when he saw a documentary about Ip Man.

"That documentary was a family video, and it was shot three days before he passed away," Wong said. "From that video, you can see this old man -- seventy-something, very weak -- wearing his pajamas in his living room doing these [martial arts] demonstrations. You can see his cats, you can see his grandchildren surround him. This is the only archive video of these demonstrations. A lot of people -- including Bruce Lee -- offered him a lot of money to these demonstrations personally, and he refused."

Wong cast his longtime collaborator ("The Grandmaster" is their seventh film together) Tony Leung as Ip, and Leung said at the press conference that it was his most enjoyable experience with Wong so far.



"The Grandmaster" "It used to be an adventurous journey every time," Leung said at the press conference. "But this time I think I'm the most lucky guy. I had something to to work from. I had a real man to work on. To me, it was the most enjoyable Wong Kar Wai film. Not to say I didn't enjoy the previous collaborations with him. But this time was much more enjoyable because at least I know who I am!"

After the crowd at the press conference burst into laughter, Leung made his intentions clear: "No, no, this is a compliment! I know he has the script. But he never shows us the script. We only have the script that day. So sometimes you are not very sure who your character is and you get very frustrated. But this time I knew exactly who I was and I knew how to deal with different situations."
Leung's co-star Zhang Ziyi (making her second appearance in a Wong Kar Wai film, after "2046") wasn't quite as aware of her character, Yip Man's rival and friend Gong Er. But that didn't make her experience any less positive -- despite noting a gruelling shoot of 20 months over 3 years.

"For me, even though I didn't know who my character was, I still think I'm the luckiest actress in the world," Ziyi said. "If Wong Kar Wai asked me again to give him this amount of time, I would do it again. That's how great he is."

Source: http://www.indiewire.com/article/wong-kar-wai-opens-berlin
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Berlin 2013: Wong Kar-wai on 'The Grandmaster,' Hong Kong Cinema and 'Passing the Torch' (Q&A)
1:35 PM PST 2/6/2013 by Clarence Tsui

"My cinema is something that belongs to the Chinese people as a whole, and it shouldn’t be limited to just a certain geographical territory in a certain historical era," said the the veteran auteur.

Seated in a hotel suite off Place Vendome in Paris, Wong Kar-wai is in fine spirits. You would never know he has just flown in overnight from Bangkok, where he was working around the clock to finish the international cut of his latest release, the martial arts epic The Grandmaster. The new version that opens the Berlinale is about 13 minutes shorter and also went through a small change in structure.

Grandmaster has already been released in China to positive reviews and generated nearly $45 million at the box office, giving Wong his first bona fide blockbuster. As the film makes its international premiere Thursday night at the Berlinale Palast, audiences will be treated to a mix of stunning action choreography (by Yuen Woo-ping) and Wong’s trademark melancholy. The film is an account of how legendary martial arts masters Ip Man (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), her father Gang Baotian (Wang Qingxiang), The Razor (Chang Chen) and Ma San (Zhang Jin) navigate their lives in politically unstable times in 20th-century China.

Wong, who also presides over the festival competition jury, talked with The Hollywood Reporter about the last-minute fine-tuning of a project he conceived nearly 17 years ago and what the film says about contemporary China.

The Hollywood Reporter: Why did you decide to make an international version of the film?

Wong Kar-wai: The version [released in Asia] has elements which Chinese audiences will be familiar with but which will not be that familiar to foreign audiences. There’s so much information that people could easily become confused. For example, during Ip Man’s opening voice-over about his own background, he talks about his family having a business on Bonham Strand West [a traditional hub of import-export trade in downtown Hong Kong]. Hong Kong audiences will know what that means, but to foreigners it doesn’t mean anything. So we just changed it to how he was running a family business which exports goods to Hong Kong. We made adjustments like this so that international audiences know what it is about.

THR: The film has gone through quite a long period of gestation and production. How different is the final product from the original idea?

Wong: I started out wanting simply to look at Ip Man the person. Later on, however, I discovered what I really wanted to examine is the whole martial arts landscape. I think the biggest question for me was, “What made Ip Man so remarkable?” Some would say it’s because he had a disciple called Bruce Lee, but that would be ignoring something that is crucial: the circumstances which shaped Ip Man’s life. His life is a microcosm of contemporary Chinese history. He lived through the Qing dynasty, the early republican years, the northern conquest [by the government against warlords], the fight against the Japanese [during WWII] and finally the exodus to Hong Kong [during and after the Chinese civil war between 1945 and 1949]. If you don’t give a proper account of this background, you won’t be able to understand the difficulties he goes through. Among the Chinese, and especially among martial arts practitioners or artists, there is this very important notion of passing the torch. It’s about realizing how one doesn’t own what one’s learned. Receiving inherited wisdom from the generation of forefathers means there’s also a responsibility to pass it on. This is the burden a grandmaster has to bear.

THR: Is this something you can identify with as a veteran in your field?

Wong: I wouldn’t really say I’m a grandmaster, so there’s nothing autobiographical about the film. But I think just like what Ip Man did for martial arts, Hong Kong cinema needs a new way of thinking. The other day, while working in Bangkok, a friend gave me this 1990s book about Hong Kong films. The author was saying then how we’ve been making too many films for international markets and we were losing our own unique qualities. But we have to understand that Hong Kong films have been dependent on overseas markets from the very beginning; we’ve never been dependent on our own domestic market. And now you have all this talk about “going north” to tap the mainland Chinese market. But if Hong Kong films are really good, the sky’s the limit. You don’t have to rely merely on the mainland Chinese market. You shouldn’t really constrain yourself.

THR: So how does it feel now to be a Hong Kong filmmaker working on the mainland?

Wong: My cinema is something that belongs to the Chinese people as a whole, and it shouldn’t be limited to just a certain geographical territory in a certain historical era. It’s not like I have to make a film with mainland audiences in mind when we have mainland money in it — and in fact, there’s quite a bit of money from elsewhere as well.

THR: Can The Grandmaster also be seen as a chronicle of how Hong Kong became what it is, given that it ends with all the martial arts experts settling in the city and becoming part of its urban fabric?
Wong: That’s right. This is what I hope the film could be interpreted as. I’m happy now because I never expected the film could whip up so much debate and discussion about the city and what the martial arts masters’ roles were in its history. A lot of people were looking up information about the things we mentioned in the film, whether it’s the martial arts schools, which were set up there after the war, or other things we touched on in the story. This allows [Hong Kong] audiences to acknowledge, yet again, that we came from this very special place, and where the city’s vibrancy and core spirit stem from — that it’s a place that we should be really proud of.

Source: http://m.hollywoodreporter.com/news/berlin-2013-wong-kar-wai-418839
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Grandmaster finally gets UK release date
4 September, 2014 | By Michael Rosser
http://www.screendaily.com/news/the-grandmaster-finally-gets-uk-release-date/5077063.article

Metrodome to release Wong Kar Wai’s martial arts epic in November.



Martial arts epic The Grandmaster, from director Wong Kar Wai, is finally set for release in the UK through Metrodome on Nov 28.

The film debuted in China in January 2013 and received its international premiere at the Berlinale the following month.

The action feature, inspired by the life and times of the legendary kung fu master Ip Man, has since travelled the festival circuit and been released in countries around the world.

It was nominated for two Oscars for cinematography and costume design.

The Grandmaster stars Wong regular, Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang and Chang Chen, with fight scenes choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
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