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'The Grandmaster': A Punched-Up Kung-Fu Saga
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

International Superstars Tony Leung & Ziyi Zhang Talk ‘The Grandmaster’ presented by Samuel L. Jackson

August 25, 2013

The Source Magazine recently sat down with Chinese superstars Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang to discuss their new Kung fu film “The Grandmaster,” directed by Wong Kar-wai. The Weinstein Company film is being presented nationally by Samuel L. Jackson and Martin Scorsese, and even RZA has come out to show his support by narrating a special cut of the film’s trailer.

Check out highlights from our Q&A with Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung below:

Q: Tell us about some of the difficult moments from shooting. There were some intricate fight scenes.

Ziyi: Tony has the saddest one.

Leung: The fight in the rain is the most difficult scene in my acting career because…actually I needed to do the master shot first. The master shot means you have to fight ten people from the end of the street to there. So it’s not easy. And Kar-wai makes it more difficult with the rain and it’s very slippery and it’s freezing cold. So that was the most difficult thing.

Ziyi: For me the train station fight because our director picked the most…coldest possible location. He could go anywhere, but he picked this place. Every night, the weather was minus 20 to 30 [degrees]. So we’re fighting…you know how we’re standing outside, you couldn’t move. My hands and feet were always numb. I just thought if someone cut off my feet I wouldn’t have even felt that, it was that bad. Just for me…right now when I see a script, seeing that it’s snowing somewhere I say, “No no no no. No more.” I’m done.

Leung: Only Florida now.

Q: Since this film is based on the life of a person and the truth of martial arts philosophies and I know that both of you did a lot of training for this over a long time, I wondered if that changed your perspective on the way you approached the role, the fact that it was a true story and that it was someone’s life and people still know him today.

Leung: I was lucky because I have a real character to work on this time and Kar-wai showed me a lot of books about the martial arts world in the Republic period of time. I had a chance to understand all the culture and customs of the martial arts world that appeared in those times. And he asked me to merge Bruce Lee’s character into Ip Man, too. Of course I don’t know why. I don’t know how can I merge Bruce Lee into Ip Man, I cannot fight like that. But he asked me to, so I studied and this Bruce Lee left us a lot of books about his vision on Kung fu and the philosophy on Kung fu that is understanding Kung fu and this really helps me to build up the confident man to go out there with the soul of The Grandmaster, it really helps. And for Ip Man, I only have information after he settled down in Hong Kong. I saw his picture…I learned a lot from my Kung fu master about Ip Man because my master was the student of Ip Man and I know how difficult his life was in Hong Kong. But what I see from this picture is he doesn’t look like a Kung fu man. He looks like a scholar. Very refined, graceful, and I can feel the difference in his eyes. He always wears a smile. I think he was so amazing, how can a person look like that if you go through that difficult life. I want to know how he can do that. So after all this study, I think Kung fu might inspire something. Kar-wai says he is very optimistic, I said no not just optimistic, Kung fu might inspire someone to deal with life. After I studied all those books from Bruce Lee, I know that it’s not just fighting techniques, but also a way of training your mind, kind of like meditation and Buddhism, how to keep your mind free from emotion and desire and…actually the goal of Kung fu is not to oppose an opponent or to give way, but to be harmonized with your opponent. If you put it in real life…you try to be in harmony with nature, the whole world. You’re not trying to oppose the people. I think what really inspired this man was Kung fu so he can move on.

Ziyi: I did not have anything like books because the character is not a real person. But for me this kind of training…I don’t feel strange because I used to be a dancer and I trained for six years professionally, so I understand what Tony is saying because it’s not only to train your physical; it’s about training your brain and to build up the strength…advice that I learned from the dance background. So for this movie, I didn’t think that much, I didn’t do any research. For me, I didn’t want to think too much, I wanted to concentrate on the training and…slowly, because we didn’t…know my character at all. Wong Kar-wai didn’t tell me that much as well, so I think we figured out the character together as we were shooting, so I know and I understand even more and better. I knew where she’s living in this kind of the world. She needs a lot of strength and courage to get the life that she wants and…because the story of her is she’s not allowed to do a lot of things, but she doesn’t believe it. That’s why she represents the independence and she represents the strength.

Q: Tony, I was wondering that since this was based on the actual Ip Man character, he has a lot of apprentices back in the late 60′s and 70′s. Did you get the chance to talk to those apprentices who might be inspired by how he actually approached this style?

Leung: The only student that I had chance to talk with was my teacher and he was an apprentice of Ip Man, so I got a lot of information from him.

Q: Anything you learned from him surprise you?

Leung: He told me that…the greatness of Ip Man was harness physical ability. That his wisdom and knowledge of Kung fu… and that’s very interesting. And also he told me a lot about his life in Hong Kong. You cannot imagine a guy like him come from a wealthy family with no worries before the 40′s and with a dramatic fall from heaven and hell in Hong Kong, and he has to train Kung fu for money. And that’s very sad for a Kung fu master like him. How can he have the dignity still?

Q: You’ve been working with Wong Kar-wai spanning almost over two decades. “Chungking Express,” and all those films. “The Grandmaster” is pretty much stylized compared to “Chungking Express,” so how much has his approach changed over the last decade?

Leung: Yeah, first of all, he used to work without a screenplay. But this time, I had a real character to portray, so it was very different to me. I was very comfortable on the first day on the set cause I know who I am. At least I’m the lucky one. And this time he plays a lot of music during shooting, I don’t know why.

Ziyi: I enjoyed it.

Leung: Maybe he wants to make the rhythm and the tempo. He wants to make something crazy. He never used to do that before. I don’t feel quite…easy with that. I think it’s kind of like my ankle is…bound by something…like the flow of the music. Like the flow of the rhythm…it’s strange, I don’t know why, but he might have a reason. You should ask him. Maybe it’s for the camera movement, or for the mood, I don’t know. But he used a lot of music this time. That’s the difference.

Q: Ziyi, You said that this was your final martial arts film. How close are you going to stick to that and Tony, this is your first full Kung fu film!

Ziyi: I had so many injuries from a long time ago in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” I hurt my leg shooting “House of Flying Daggers” and just something happened. I fainted for a long time…I felt it was a long time, but it was only a few seconds. And just those old injuries really bothered me. And after three years of this one, first of all my body cannot take anymore. And also I just think nothing can really surpass this kind of level of acting and choreography and everything. So I just think this is pretty good just to leave with good memories.

Leung: I really don’t mind doing a Kung fu movie. If I can do it with Wong Kar-wai I can do it with…

Ziyi: Anybody.

Leung: The most demanding director I’ve ever worked with. It was such a long period of time. At the end, I told him many times almost at the film’s end, before we finished that I cannot do it anymore. I’m really exhausted.

Q: Will you guys get to work together again? And what are you doing next?

Ziyi: Tony’s taking a break.

Leung: Yeah. I need a very, very, very, very long vacation.

Ziyi: And I’m a little bit younger so I’m still working.

“The Grandmaster” is now playing.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ebiri on The Grandmaster: Welcome Back, Wong Kar-wai

By Bilge Ebiri

Wong Kar-wai’s kung-fu movie begins with an elaborate, very impressive fight between Ip Man (Tony Leung) and a small army of unnamed opponents, who come at him with the same relentlessness as the rain that thunders down on them. The kicking and the punching is predictably intense, but the scene, presented without context or setup, feels less like combat and more like an aesthetic statement of principles. As we watch the droplets of water spinning off the brim of Ip Man’s white hat in exquisite slow motion, the shadowy forms of the fighters conjoining and separating amid the backlit curtains of rain, the dancerly grace of the camera moves and the cutting, it's hard not to feel that with this, Wong’s first feature since 2007’s misbegotten My Blueberry Nights, a dear old friend is finally back in the room.

Wong Kar-wai isn't known for making martial arts movies; his one contribution to the related wuxia genre, Ashes of Time, is the most experimental thing he's ever done. But he is a master of the physical — of texture and movement. And The Grandmaster is rooted in this very physical world. It begins in 1936, as an aging grandmaster from the north, Gong Baosen (Wang Qingxiang), who has united a variety of fighting styles, comes south to the town of Foshan for a retirement ceremony and asks that a younger champion from the south be chosen to challenge him. The challenger turns out to be Ip, a 40-year-old family man and Wing Chun expert whose mild manner betrays his encyclopedic mastery of practically every fighting style there is. (Ip Man, by the way, was a real person, whose main claim to fame is that in later years he taught a young Hong Kong kid named Bruce Lee.)

The grandmaster’s chosen successor is Ma San (Zhang Jin), a lethal hothead, but his true spiritual heir is his daughter Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), who sorrowfully watches the men make their various honor-bound commitments, frustrated because she has mastered even the grandmaster’s most secret moves and is unwilling to accept her father’s defeat. All throughout, Wong stays focused on the faces, hands, and feet of the combatants — even when they merely cut through air, we can feel that air. He’s also predictably intoxicated by the smoky, ornate pavilions of this world. Much as with his forebears Joseph von Sternberg and Luchino Visconti, cinema for him is as much a conjuring act, an evocation of worlds gone by, as it is a narrative art.

And for this director, memories of bygone worlds usually also contain memories of passion. When Gong Er does get her chance to fight Ip, their faces cross within inches of each other as they fly through the air, making the confrontation one of sunken desire more than overt conflict. We realize that there isn't much difference between the stolen glances and caresses of Wong’s romantic dramas like In the Mood for Love or Chungking Express and the delicate footwork and sweeping punches of kung-fu. In his hands, a fight becomes an act of yearning. Soon enough, Gong Er and Ip Man are in love — or at least, in the kind of submerged, impossible love that people share in Wong Kar-wai movies.

Like many of the director’s films, The Grandmaster is paced in an odd, almost stream-of-consciousness manner. The first act so closely follows the minute, and in some cases seemingly petty, intricacies around the elderly Gong Baosan’s retirement that one could be forgiven for assuming the rest of the film will continue in this closed, politically and personally charged setting. But actually, the film turns out to be a historical epic — expanding out from this concentrated moment in time to encompass the following decades of invasion, civil war, and revolution. The characters go their separate ways, but then wind up in fifties Hong Kong, their noble days amid the billowing incense and luxurious golden pavilions a distant, otherworldly memory. In its later scenes, the film often feels episodic and disjointed, in part because it’s following on the detailed, fussy narrative of those early scenes. But, given the meditative quality of the storytelling, this fragmentation is clearly by design, the characters’ fleeting reminiscences and brief reconnections serving to advance Wong’s dreamlike ode to regret.

The Grandmaster shares yet another quality with many of Wong’s other films in that it’s hard to pin down just exactly what cut we should be watching. The film is being released in the U.S. in a new version prepared by the director himself that toys, to a not insignificant degree, with the structure. The longer international version of the film has far more sweep and breadth to it, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t several magnificent scenes in it that I’m sorry to see go. But the U.S. version, which is tighter and less linear, also contains a couple of powerful new scenes. In short, I'd be the happiest person in the world if Wong announced there was a four-hour cut of this film somewhere. For now, neither version is perfect, but they’re both so beautiful, so heartbreaking, that the question may be moot. Whatever its flaws, seeing The Grandmaster theatrically, in any version, should be a sacrament for any true film lover — a spiritual duty.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Review | ‘The Grandmaster’

Friday, August 23rd, 2013 at 2:45pm PST - by Todd Gilchrist

Although its trailers tout massive battles and advertise breakneck action set to the strains of music from The RZA, The Grandmaster is much more Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero than The Man With the Iron Fists or Kill Bill.

Director Wong Kar Wai’s second proper “action” film is a poetic but markedly straightforward chronicle of the life of iconic martial arts instructor Ip Man, writ large against the backdrop of Chinese history. Sumptuous and beautifully acted by Tony Leung Chu Wai, Ziyi Zhang and Wang Qingxiang, among others, the The Grandmaster examines the cultural heritage of kung fu in a society that has less and less use for such traditions. But particularly given the Weinstein Company’s alterations to the film to make it more palatable for American audiences, that idea seems more relevant than ever, which is why The Grandmaster is instantly a must-see martial arts film, whether you watch them for the action or for the philosophies beneath.

Leung plays Ip Man, who’s recruited to fight on behalf of Southern Chinese masters to prove the superiority of their various styles. Although he agrees, the bout is delayed by the second Sino-Japanese war, and eventually forgotten about as the concerns of daily survival begin to take priority in the combatants’ lives. But after besting Gong Yutian (Qingxiang) in a battle of philosophies, Ip Man finds himself facing off against Yutian’s daughter Gong Er (Zhang), and a bond slowly develops as the two come to respect one another. However, once Yutian’s disciple – and betrayer – Ma San (Zhang Jin) asserts his superiority over all other fighters and their styles of martial arts, Ip Man and Gong Er and forced to make a choice whether to fight back, even as the traditions they built their lives around continue to become lost by history.

grandmaster4Even in the abridged, and in many ways over-explained, version the Weinsteins created for the film’s U.S. release, there will no doubt be a number of plot developments that audiences may have trouble fully understanding, primarily because a lack of familiarity with either martial arts or basic Chinese history. Nevertheless, its themes are crystal clear, as Ip Man represents one of the martial arts’ last connections to its cultural foundations, which are progressively ignored or devalued as the country gets swept up in more immediately pressing concerns – like the health and safety of friends and family. Over the course of the film, Ip Man finds his own privileged life challenged by the ravages of time and circumstance – forget about kung fu bad guys – and his stalwart embrace of those traditions as the bedrock of Chinese culture, as something to be protected and preserved, offers a powerful lesson in respecting and valuing history.

Even given Woo-Ping’s indefatigable ability to create amazing, inventive fight sequences, the action in the film feels completely singular – if not unprecedented – in its devotion to separate forms of kung fu. As a student of multiple fighting styles, Ip Man prevails over his adversaries by using one after another, combining them, and yet celebrating their individuality. Meanwhile, in portraying each foe as a different kind of expert, the film provides a subtle overview of fighting styles and highlights their importance as a core element of a family or school’s personality or very identity. At the same time, the set pieces certainly function as more than instructional exercises, pushing the story forward and demonstrating how these competitions defined Chinese culture for many decades.

Tony Leung has certainly played his share of tough guys and formidable fighters, but here his performance more resembles his dramatic work, in that even the battles are fought for dramatic purposes – or so they seem to be given his performance. Imbuing Ip Man with a serenity that shouldn’t be mistaken for ambivalence, Leung manages to tap into the well of spirituality that allows the character to attack and defend, but only in equilibrium with his opponent, and always utilizing the values of his training to perform his art devoid of more demonstrable emotion. These, like the fights in Hero or Crouching Tiger, are often won less because of obviously superior skill than via a compromise of honor, and he ennobles his conflicts with the other characters in a way that is not just dramatically compelling but deeply attractive.

As Gong Er, Ziyi Zhang continues to mature as an actress, and delivers one of her best performances to date. It seems easy, even understandable, for an actress to portray the tragic undercurrent of a woman’s life when it is dictated by the repressive demands of history, but as Yutian’s heir – who cannot carry her father’s name because she’s not a man – she instead plays the tragedy of not being able to preserve his traditions. Moreover, she perfectly embodies an idealized woman (far from a trophy or victim) in a culture defined by men, where she possesses even greater strength than her male counterparts, and yet must defer to a sense of patriarchal order. That she is able to deliver an eventual comeuppance to one foe is, narratively speaking, pure cinematic gratification, but Zhang’s performance gives it a gravitas that elevates it above villain-vanquishing wish-fulfillment.

Whether or not the intricacies of its historical backdrop or the philosophical underpinnings of its fighting styles register with audiences, there’s something undeniably attractive about a period defined by honor and respect – the romanticism of a time when what people said and did seemed to mean something. That the film observes this offers a deliberate tribute to previous generations, but make no mistake: Wong’s film isn’t simply a serving of cultural vegetables, so to speak. Rather, it’s a theatrical portrait of important but largely forgotten values, utilized to create great drama. That’s why, ultimately, The Grandmaster is deeply rewarding. Philosophical and visceral, sweeping and intimate, Wong Kar Wai’s film is the rare kind of cinematic experience that informs as it entertains, and most importantly, evokes powerful feelings from both its physical conflicts and intellectual ideas.

The Grandmaster opens today.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interview: Wong Kar-Wai Talks Kung Fu, The Different 'The Grandmaster' Cuts & His Favorite Directors

by Drew Taylor
August 22, 2013 3:22 PM

It's been six long years since a new Wong Kar-Wai movie graced cinema screens. The notoriously patient director behind "Chungking Express" and "In the Mood for Love" is back with "The Grandmaster," the biographical tale of Ip Man (also known as Yip Man), a true life historical figure (played in the film by the always brilliant Tony Leung) and martial arts wizard who would go on to train some kid called Bruce Lee. Harkening back to the director's earlier films, while adding a new level of expert technical precision, "The Grandmaster" is for any fan of kung fu or a devotee of Kar-Wai's work. It's in turns epic and gorgeous, a movie that demands to be seen, just for its visual opulence, and then discussed at length afterwards. We got a chance to do just that with Wong himself, who talked about the film's somewhat tortured production, why he decided to tell this story, what's different between this version and the international cut, what it was like working with Megan Ellison and who his favorite modern filmmakers are.

Of course, this being a Wong Kar-Wai movie, there is a bittersweet love story at its core, this time between Ip Man and Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), a martial artist who refuses to give up the secret to an ancient strain of the craft. Their relationship is the beating heart inside the flying fists of "The Grandmaster," and the actors are absolutely unbelievable together. There's almost as much thrilling tension in a quiet scene between the two actors as there is when Leung is getting his ass handed to him in the rain (Kar-Wai and his cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd photograph every falling water droplet in almost pornographic detail). Using truncated historical touchstones and title cards, the filmmaker gives you a wide history of the famous kung fu master's life, which was full of fights and deep wells of emotion.

So my first question is about the different cuts of the movie. What exactly did you change or delete for this specific version?
Well, we had an obligation to release the film within two hours for the United States. But, I didn't want to do it just by cutting the film shorter or do a shorter version by trimming and cutting out scenes because the structure of the original version is actually very precise...I just wanted to tell the story in a different way. So now the American version is 108 minutes, and we have 15 minutes of new scenes, and the story is more linear. So instead of a shorter version, to me it's a new version.
"The American version is 108 minutes, and we have 15 minutes of new scenes, and the story is more linear. So instead of a shorter version, to me it's a new version."

And do you think this is a version of the film that's more suited to American audiences who maybe don't know as much about this sort of thing?
For me the American audience has a long history with the kung fu film, maybe besides Chinese audiences, they are the experts of this genre. So we can speak more about, for instance, the days when Ip Man arrives in Hong Kong, meeting with all these different Kung Fu masters who are in exile. It's about this life and I think for American audiences, they don't need too many build ups and they can go directly into these chapters to appreciate them.

So would you ever consider releasing the other version, sort of like you did with "Ashes of Time," or are these completely separate?
If one day they said, "Well, we would welcome a longer version," then of course. At the moment I think this is it.

Why did it take so long for this film to come together?
It's a huge project, first of all. I didn't know anything about martial arts, I'm a big fan but I never practiced martial arts. And the second thing is just time, because we divided the film into three chapters. It begins in 1936 and ends in Hong Kong in 1956, and also we had to shoot in the north and the you actually need time, first of all to understand the premise and [to plan for the] shoot. For me, it took me three years, on the road, interviewing martial artists and attending demonstrations live with them. And also at the same time, you also have to have your cast to go through training because I don't think we can have just an action star to play Ip Man, because Ip Man is not just a typical fighter, he's someone from a very rich background, almost like an aristocrat in his time, so he has manners, elegance, and all these details. So it took a long time to prepare for this project.

And you shot it for over a year, right?
No, we shot for twenty-two months over three years.

What initially drew you to this story?
I was always very fascinated by the world [of] Chinese martial arts, and I always had the question, "What is so interesting about it? What's so great about Chinese martial arts?" And at the end of the film there's a kid standing outside of the school, and that kid, in the film, is Bruce Lee. And at the same time it could be me, because I was brought up on the streets outside schools but I never had the chance to practice because my parents never encouraged me to do so. Because in those days most of the martial arts schools, many of them, were associated with Triads and they are very mysterious. So in a way, through this film, I could finally walk through that door.

Was there ever a thought of perhaps putting more Bruce Lee into the movie? Since that's I think where at least Western audiences know the Ip Man story.
We all know, a lot of people follow Chinese martial arts through Bruce Lee. And why Bruce Lee is so iconic and so attractive [is] because not only is he a very good fighter, also he's very modern, charismatic, but most of all he's very civilized, he's well educated, he explored about his ideas and his philosophy about his gifts. In a way when you look at other books and interviews that are done by Bruce Lee you can see a lot of his inspiration is actually coming from Yip Man, the man who trained him. So when you look at the story of Yip Man it's very interesting because this guy hadn't done this kind of work before and he belonged to a certain class that is very different from our idea of a martial arts fighter. He's not a fighter, he took it as an art, so in a way, we can see, through Yip Man, where Bruce Lee got the idea.

Now was the love story an actual part of Ip Man's story?
Oh, no. That part of the film actually is fiction.

Do you have anything planned next?
There is nothing at this point, because I'm still in jet lag from 1930 to now.

Are there any types of movies you'd like to make that you haven't made yet?
I don't know. There are so many different options, at this point I think I'd need a break.

"In the Mood for Love" was originally supposed to be two different films — the other one was called "Beijing Summer." What was that about? Is that something you would ever return to?
No. I think that the reason we wanted to do that film is because it's before the handover, and we visit Beijing six months before the handover and we see there is a clock countdown at Tiananmen Square. So I think it would be interesting to make a film based on two Hong Kong couples working in Beijing, and have the story go against this chapter. And now the time is gone and I think we have to put it aside. Sometimes, it's really about the timing.

Yeah, do you watch contemporary cinema? Do you have favourite filmmakers who are working now?
Yes, of course. Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese of course and Quentin Tarantino, I think they are great filmmakers.

And what about their films inspire you?
I think each of them has their own world, it's like they are seeing things from a very specific angle, which gives you, something fascinating.

I wanted to ask what it was like working with Megan Ellison?
She's the most hardworking producer I have ever seen.

And she let you shoot for 22 months over 3 years.
Yes she did. She's great, also she's very young, but she's very committed to the film.

"The Grandmaster" opens in select cinemas this Friday.

Last edited by Sandy on Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Grandmaster: It’s Good, Not Grand
by Ethan Alter August 23, 2013 5:52 am

Putting the "art" back into martial arts cinema, Wong Kar Wai's eagerly awaited The Grandmaster is yet another sumptuously photographed tale of romantic longing from one of the current grandmasters of love-found-and-lost stories. This time, though, the yearning is punctuated by high kicks and lightning-fast punches since the would-be lovers in question are a pair of martial arts wizards. In one corner, you've got Ip Man (the director's regular leading man, Tony Leung) a real-life fighting legend and grandmaster of the Wing Chun discipline, who lived through the Japanese occupation of China during World War II and later moved to Hong Kong, where he trained a young boy who would grow up to become Bruce Lee. Facing off opposite him is the fictitious Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang), the daughter of another martial arts master whose designated heir has sullied the family name, requiring his actual child to appoint herself to clean-up duty.

And storywise, that's pretty much all there is to The Grandmaster, which unfolds in three separate movements that are connected by explanatory title cards written expressly for American audiences unfamiliar with Ip Man and early 20th century Chinese history. In fact, the version of the film that's playing on U.S. screens has been significantly reshaped to suit domestic tastes: it's shorter (108 minutes as opposed to the 123-minute cut that premiered in China), less rooted in actual historical events (the Japanese occupation section has apparently been truncated) and seems to place a greater emphasis on the balletic action sequences. Not having seen the original cut -- a detailed account of the contractually obligated tweaks can be read here -- I can't speak to whether any of these changes have successfully made the film more "commercial" for American audiences. I can say, though, that this version is probably Kar Wai's most unsatisfying film on a structural level, with the time jumps and Wikipedia-style textual interludes keeping the movie from establishing a resonant emotional throughline -- a significant problem when the primary thing driving your movie is emotion.

On the other hand, there's still plenty to appreciate in this compromised version of The Grandmaster, starting with the fight scenes, choreographed by action movie icon Yuen Woo-ping and shot with Kar Wai's typical attention to faces and movement. These aren't the bad-ass beatdowns of The Matrix filmed in long-takes and with lots of rapid-fire blows, but rather graceful dances presented in slow-motion and through close-ups emphasizing specific parts of the body -- hands, eyes and assorted limbs. And while Ip Man and Gong Er's not-quite romance lacks the quiet fireworks of In the Mood for Love (still Kar Wai's finest achievement), there is a distinct sense of loss as it becomes increasingly clear these two won't or can't act on their attraction to each other. This is a particularly fine showcase for Ziyi, whose character moves to the forefront of the proceedings midway through the movie courtesy of an extended flashback that gives Gong Er the kind of meaty dramatic storyline that Leung never really gets to play. In fact, even though Ip Man is technically the "Grandmaster" of the title, the director's sympathies and interests lie much more with his fictional creation, who comes to represent an ideal that vanishes into the mists of history as time marches forward. It's grand romantic notions like that that make The Grandmaster a rewarding experience, even if it fails to completely sweep you off your feet.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Grandmaster

by A.A. Dowd August 22, 2013

Director: Wong Kar Wai
Cast: Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen (In Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese w/subtitles)
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 108 minutes,101924/

There are few filmmakers, great ones included, capable of overcoming the banality of the biopic, a genre in which drama is dubiously generated by playing connect the dots with the events of a real person’s life. Wong Kar Wai, the Hong Kong director of Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love, isn't immune to the limitations of this cinematic approach; one of the medium’s most expressive visionaries is done in by the burden of fidelity, a duty to stick to the trajectory of his subject’s story. Said subject is Ip Man, the martial-arts legend best known—in the West, anyway—for training Bruce Lee. His life has been explored by several recent films, including a pair of Hong Kong smashes starring Donnie Yen. The Grandmaster, which casts Wong regular Tony Leung as Ip Man, is a moodier take on the material, with a greater emphasis on the philosophies of kung fu—specifically, the stripped-down style of Wing Chun—and the loneliness of its eponymous hero. Yet at the end of the day, the pesky imperative to convey information is still a driving force; more than anything Wong has ever made, the movie chokes on exposition, its more poetic concerns stifled by its surfeit of plot.

That’s not to say, of course, that the director’s involvement is invisible. Quite to the contrary, it’s detectable in every sensuous close-up of hands or feet and every stuttering slow-motion shot of Leung brooding magnificently in an opulent Chinese brothel. Thematically, too, The Grandmaster is of a piece with Wong’s usual heartsick laments: As it moves from Ip Man’s 1930s tenure in Foshan, where he wins the title of southern master, to his 1950s exile in Hong Kong, the movie casts its iconic protagonist as a duty-bound romantic loner—especially when, during a particularly Wongish passage, he exchanges letters with a gorgeous combatant (Zhang Ziyi) with whom he once sparred. Where the filmmaker really cuts loose is in the glorious fight scenes, as expertly choreographed as the ones in a Zhang Yimou movie, but also infused with the intimacy of those long, seductive strolls in In The Mood For Love. For Wong, such balletic battles—staged in pouring rain or falling snow, in golden-lit interiors or darkened exteriors—must have been the main draw to the project.

Anyway, it almost certainly wasn’t the opportunity to deliver a history lesson: Where Wong falters, presumably out of a failure of interest, is in making the details of Ip Man’s narrative compelling. Faced with the responsibility of moving his real-life fighter not just from one fist-flying skirmish to the next but also forward through time, the director resorts to several clunky devices, such as Leung endlessly narrating in voiceover or lengthy blocks of onscreen text. Seemingly crucial details—like the death by starvation of Ip Man’s children and his refusal to collude with the enemy during the Japanese occupation—are covered in speedy montage, with Wong tellingly abandoning the main story arc for a couple of reels to get lost in a more emotionally charged subplot. The movie doesn’t work as a character study either, even with the remarkably talented Leung in the lead: Audiences may walk away with more knowledge of Ip Man, but they’ll scarcely have seen the person behind the legend. Perhaps the blame belongs with Harvey Weinstein, who—in a typically mercenary move—has trimmed Wong’s original cut by a whopping 20 minutes. (Most of those who’ve seen both versions claim that the longer one hews closer to the director’s wheelhouse.) Then again, maybe Wong is just ill-suited to a world of hard facts. Fiction, which can be bent and twisted for a greater good, is much more his speed.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PROMO: The Grandmaster Tells the Tale of the Man Who Trained Bruce Lee
By Complex Magazine | Aug 22, 2013

Bruce Lee holds a special place in popular folklore, and is by far the most high-profile martial artist of all time. But Lee wasn’t born possessing his many martial arts skills; he had to learn them somewhere, and from someone. But who was so great that he could train the man who would become the greatest? Only one person: Ip Man.

Wong Kar-wai’s new film, The Grandmaster, examines the incredible life of this legendary martial artist. An epic story that’s been a decade in the making, the movie stars Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Ip Man and Ziyi Zhang (Rush Hour 2; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as his love interest, Gong Er. It chronicles many periods of Ip Man’s eventful life, from his first martial arts training at the age of seven, to his fight for survival during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, to his ultimately establishing himself as a revered teacher in Hong Kong—where he would train many students, including a young Bruce Lee. It also just so happens to be jam-packed with some spectacularly explosive martial arts sequences, the likes of which no other director could deliver.

The Grandmaster is a film that spans many genres, from emotional biopic to sweeping martial arts spectacle, and is most definitely a movie that is not to be missed. It hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow, and then nationwide on August 30.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

‘The Grandmaster’ Review: Martial Artistry Sublime in New Kung-fu Film
By Mark Jackson, Epoch Times | August 23, 2013

Bruce Lee is Kung fu-Elvis. He’s as iconic now as he was in 1974. We know Bruce. We own Bruce. Who taught Bruce? Kung fu grandmaster Ip Man.

Although two films have already been made about Ip Man, Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmaster,” starring Tony Leung, Chiu Wai and Zhang Ziyi, should make “Ip Man” a household name, albeit with nowhere near the mega-wattage of pupil Bruce Almighty.

The story takes place between 1930 and 1952. It begins with the story of Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang), a renowned northern kung fu master who’s ready to retire.

Gong journeys south to hold a ceremony naming his star pupil, Ma San (Zhang Jin), as new grandmaster. He tells the southern schools to pick their best man for a north-south face-off.

Master Gong also has a daughter, Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), a supreme master in her own right. But women weren’t allowed into the martial arts man-club in those days.

Father Gong wants daughter Gong to be a doctor, but she’s quite lethal, having grown up “to the sound of bones breaking.”

As they say, “Talent will out.”

The south picks Ip Man to represent them. To help him prepare (in what is perhaps the film’s most entertaining portion), highly accomplished masters from different schools impart to him the essence of their unique practices.

Kung fu masters always withheld their best moves. For example, Gong Yutian united the northern styles of Xing Yi and the deadly Bagua, but only showed his students Xing Yi.

We learn how one style contains five concepts, while another style might contain six or seven things. The simplest things are always the most powerful. Ip Man’s Wing Chun style has three.

But, in the end, there are only two things: vertical and horizontal. He who wins is vertical; he who loses is horizontal.

Deadly days, dangerous martial artists everywhere, one always has to be vigilant. And yet, throughout, Ip Man embodies great moral stature.

Ip Man’s face glows with warmth, humility, and compassion. One senses Tony Leung to be a deeply spiritual man. Or at least a very good actor.

At one point Ip is challenged by an opponent whose specialty is the straight razor. Possibly an assassin, The Razor subtly warns him of his metallic prowess. Ip Man picks up a couple of steel nails, beams beatifically, and says, childlike, “Let me try.”

The pure, ringing tone made by attacking razor meeting blocking nail is enough for The Razor to know he’s met his match and then some. He’s dreamt of that ringing tone. It’s difficult to find an equal at that level, and so, in a way, we see how opponents are like great friends.

Also wonderful is a scene involving the art of war hidden within the simple offering and lighting of a cigarette by an old tai chi master. In that act alone, the former powerhouse recognizes Ip’s other worldly abilities, and longs for younger days when he would have been fit enough for a true challenge.

Finally, the showdown: Master Gong against Ip is a tremendous fight, a matching of wits, a physical chess, a brilliant subtlety. He challenges Ip to break the biscuit he holds in his hand.

Daughter Gong is hot-headed, although Dad has told her to master her temper, take a step back, and see the long perspective.

She challenges Ip—his Wing Chun against her Sixty-four Hands.

Since they fight in a fancy brothel (apparently lots of martial matches occurred in brothels), he offers her the win if he breaks anything, saying, “Kung fu is about precision.” Their fight is a love affair.

Meanwhile, Ma San, having been banished by Gong Yutian for having too much selfish ambition, has dishonored the family.

Gong Er fights him, reclaims the familial honor, goes home, spits up blood, takes opium, and stops seeing patients.

She vows before Buddha to have no children and never to teach martial arts.

Ip dreams of Gong Er, he wants to see Sixty-four Hands again. He wants her to come out of retirement and save the gift of her martial art. She replies that no gift is higher than heaven, and that while others may choose to live without rules, she does not.

In a heartbreaking conversation, Gong Er suggests they suspend the game of chess between them, saying that it doesn’t matter that Sixty-four Hands disappears, and that she has already forgotten it.

We learn she died in 1953, having never lost a fight. And that she kept her vows to Buddha to the end.

The cinematography is wonderful, breathtaking, the martial arts satisfying. All actors were required to study kung fu for three years prior to filming.

There’s perhaps a bit too much slow-motion shots of rainfall, slow wringing of trickling washcloths in the bath, too much slow-mo in general, accompanied by ponderous piano playing.

The pageantry, beautiful set pieces, and authentic, intricate costumes seem inspired by Shen Yun, the world-traveling performance that’s currently reviving the lost 5,000 years of true Chinese culture.

The ever beauteous Zhang Ziyi makes Mandarin sound exquisite.

The narrative is somewhat problematic, and the cuts and editing suffer due to the film originally being four hours long, and needing to be too-quickly chopped down for public consumption.

The thing about wuxia films (martial arts hero films) that some object to is that there’s always mystical-magical stuff happening. Masters fly around, kick dents in iron railings, pinch stones into dust, and send out shockwave-like energy.

Why this fairytale nonsense? It’s not nonsense. The magical things are artist renditions of the super-normal abilities that can be developed through years of devoted martial arts practice.

Those shockwaves and the ability to smash stone are visualizations of the indescribably powerful but elusive gong energy.

Super high-level martial arts utilize this mystical gong energy—mystical only because it’s forbidden to be shown to the public.

Everyone’s heard of “chi” energy by now. Kung-fu in China is really “gongfu.”

The eclectic Jeet Kune Do style Bruce Lee developed after jettisoning Ip Man’s Wing Chun kung fu is arguably the basis of the now hugely popular modern mixed-martial arts (MMA), but there’s no gong involved in this.

Gong only develops when the art form remains pure, and most importantly, when the spiritual aspect of the artist’s moral standard is retained or improved—also a form of purification.

See Ip Man fight Gong Yutian and Gong Er with gong fu.

Bruce Lee might be more famous, but his teacher Ip Man’s was the real-deal Gong Show.

4 stars

Director: Wong Kar Wai
Cast: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Song Hye-kyo
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Rating: PG-13
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weinstein Co. Expanding Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmaster' Into 749 Theaters Chinese martial arts film had the highest per-screen average of any movie last weekend

Published on August 29, 2013 in The Wrap Covering Hollywood

Coming off a big opening, the Weinstein Company is aggressively expanding director Wong Kar-wai's martial arts action film “The Grandmaster” this weekend.

It will be in 749 theaters starting Friday, after opening in seven theaters last weekend. It brought in $132,259 for a $18,894 average -- the highest of any film in release for that frame.

“The Grandmaster” is based on the life of martial-arts master Ip Man (played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai), best known in America as the man who trained Bruce Lee. In China, he’s seen as a national hero for helping to unite the Northern and Southern Chinese schools of martial arts.
The film opened in January in China and has taken in $45 million.

The version showing in the U.S. is 108 minutes, considerably shorter than the “Chinese cut,” which was 130 minutes and the 123-minute version that debuted at Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Pantelion and Lionsgate are rolling out the Spanish-language family comedy “Instructions Not Included” in 347 theaters.

The film is written, produced, directed by and stars popular Mexican comic Eugenio Derbez.

He plays an Acapulco playboy who heads to L.A. to search for a former fling who has left a baby on his doorstep. He takes the child with him and they don’t find the mother, but he finds a new life as a Hollywood stuntman, and little Maggie becomes his on-set coach.

The marketing campaign primarily targets Hispanic adults aged 18-49 and kicked off in July, when Derbez received a lifetime achievement award on “Premios Juventud,” an annual awards show on the Univision network that drew 10 million viewers. Since then he’s made numerous guest appearances on network’s shows.

Loreto Peralta, Jessica Lindsey and Alessandra Rosaldo co-star in the PG-13-rated comedy.

The Film Arcade is rolling out the comedy-drama “Afternoon Delight” in two theaters, one in New York and one in Los Angeles.

Written and directed by Jim Soloway, it tells the tale of a frustrated stay-at-home mom (Kathryn Hahn), who adopts a stripper (Juno Temple) as an in-house nanny. Josh Radnor and Jane Lynch co-star. It’s rated R.
Soloway won the director’s award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for “Afternoon Delight,” which is her feature directing debut. She was a writer and producer for TV’s “Six Feet Under” and “The United States of Tara."
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Grandmaster’

By Peter Suderman

Published on August 29, 2013 in Washington Times

American audiences will see a significantly shorter version of “The Grandmaster,” director Wong Kar-wai’s kung-fu biopic about legendary martial arts teacher Ip Man. The version now playing in U.S. theaters has been cut by more than 20 minutes, with some scenes chopped, others rearranged and fill-in-the-blanks cue cards inserted to clarify turns in the story.

I haven’t seen the longer cut, but reports generally indicate that the American version emphasizes the movie’s action at the expense of its love story.

The problem is that there’s not quite enough action to make this idea work. It wasn’t meant to be a fast-paced action epic, but a historical love story with kung-fu flavor. And so the movie feels imbalanced, as if it’s not quite sure what movie it wants to be. What’s left in this edit is a slow-moving muddle — a not-quite action movie that feels 20 minutes longer than it is.

Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai has always been at his best portraying wordless feeling — the silent longing between lovers who cannot come together, or the dreamy air of traveling alone in a city. His movies have a rich, textured beauty to them, as if gently draped in sheets of gold and silk.

That works well in stories of unrequited love, like “Chungking Express” and “In the Mood for Love.” But his focus on mood and internal conflict is not as obvious a fit for a story like “The Grandmaster,” which follows the life of Ip Man (Tony Leung), the Wing Chun martial artist who became one of China’s most celebrated teachers — and who, most famously, trained kung-fu pioneer Bruce Lee.

Mr. Wong’s imagery is as lush as always, especially in the gorgeously rainy opening fight sequence. But he’s far too impressionistic to make a strong action director. As with dance photography, the best movie martial arts sequences rely on wide shots and long takes to show the full motion of the human bodies in conflict.

But “The Grandmaster’s” scattered showdowns are punctuated by slow-motion close-ups that distract from the action. Mr. Wong seems more intent on capturing the mood of the fights than the events themselves.

That’s especially frustrating because the movie’s handful of extended action sequences could have been some of the better martial arts showdowns in recent memory. The choreography, by Hong Kong legend Yuen Woo-ping, who designed the fights in both “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” looks to have been staged with the same ferocious precision as in those films. Too bad so much of his work is hidden by the editing.

Mr. Wong seems more in his element when dealing with the (somewhat fictionalized) love story between Ip Man and Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang), the daughter of a rival martial arts master. But when the two split apart about a third of the way through, the movie loses its center. At times it feels more like her story than his — which would be fine, except that the movie always drags viewers back to its title character.

And I do mean drags. Like Mr. Wong’s earlier movies, “The Grandmaster” is a slow film. Unlike those, it never settles into the hypnotic rhythm it aims for. The wordless feeling it left me with was the sense of a movie that never quite finds itself.

TITLE: “The Grandmaster” CREDITS: Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai

RATING: PG-13 for kung-fu violence

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Much to love in Wong Kar-wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’

By Peter Keough

Published on August 29, 2013 in Boston Globe

Aside from cinephiles, kung fu aficionados, and fans of martial arts movies, few will be familiar with the name Ip Man, the legendary teacher of Bruce Lee and others. But minutes into Wong Kar-wai’s account of Ip’s life (starring Tony Leung), there will be no forgetting the guy in the cool fedora and long black coat wiping out an army of thugs in a rain-swept alley. Who knows what they’re fighting about, but given the ecstatic ballet of fists and water, tossed bodies and smashed decor, centered by Leung’s majestic impassivity, it doesn’t really matter. The Grandmaster

MPAA Rating: PG-13 MPAA rating reasons: violence, some smoking, brief drug use, language Language: Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese, with subtitles Running Time: 108 minutes Cast: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Wang Qingxiang, Chang Chen Director: Wong Kar-wai Writers: Wong, Zou Jingzhi, Xu Haofeng Playing at: Boston Common, Fenway, Kendall Square, suburbs

As a kung fu film, “The Grandmaster,” with its exhilarating fighting sequences, won’t disappoint. And as a Wong Kar-wai film, it rates high with its poetic exploration of thwarted desire, the inevitability of loss, and the tyranny of social roles. It is the lyrical counterpart to Wong’s 1994 epic, the sword-wielding, medieval-set wuxia, “Ashes of Time.” But as a narrative, it can be challenging.

Wong is not the most conventional of storytellers, and his aesthetics don’t translate comfortably to the biopic genre, with its expectations of chronological clarity and linear continuity. He accommodates those requirements halfheartedly, using voice-over narrative and intertitles to relate chunks of exposition. But his interest in Ip’s story — in addition to its cinematic beauty — lies in the theme he has explored in films like “In the Mood for Love” (2000): the ways a man and woman who desire each other can conspire with the world to frustrate their happiness.

Some obstacles to fulfilling desire are unavoidable, like historical cataclysms. In 1936, when the film opens, with the recent Japanese conquest of nearby Manchuria seemingly out of sight and out of mind, Ip resides with his wife and children in the prosperous city of Foshan. He’s low-key about his kung fu prowess (aside from wiping out that small army in the opening scene), but he’s drawn into an ongoing rivalry between the northern and southern kung fu schools when Gong Baosen (Wang Qingxiang), the soon-to-retire Grandmaster of the North, challenges the skills of the Southerners, who call on Ip to be their champion. Ip defeats Gong in a genteel contest, but Gong’s daughter Er (Ziyi Zhang), also a kung fu expert, can’t abide her father going out on a low note, and challenges Ip. And so they duke it out, in the glittery splendor of the Gold Pavilion brothel. The bout is as seductive as an Astaire-Rogers duet, and has much the same outcome.

However, as if Ip having a wife and family weren’t enough of an obstacle to their mutual attraction, along comes World War II. The Japanese invade the South, but the subsequent eight years of a brutal war and occupation pass in just a few scenes, summed up by Ip’s voice-over explaining how he lost his home, friends, and family. And then, before you know it, it’s 1950 and Ip is in Hong Kong, starting a new life as a kung fu teacher.

This is how time passes in “The Grandmaster,” abruptly and irrevocably but also as if in a trance, with world-shaking events that come and go like afterthoughts (though the original version, with 15 minutes cut by the Weinstein Company for US distribution, might be less elliptical). But such biographical details are of less concern to Wong than the evanescent beauty of two lovers, separated by honor, duty, and the whims of history, whose desires and regrets flare up and vanish like a dream.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Movie reviews: 'The Grandmaster' packs powerful tale

By Tony Norman

Published on August 30, 2013 in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Only two movies have come close to wringing water out of these old tear ducts of mine this year. Both featured actresses in performances that were so luminous that I considered myself lucky to be alive to enjoy them.

One was by Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine," Woody Allen's best film in three decades. The other belonged to Ziyi Zhang in Wong Kar-wai's meditative martial arts biopic "The Grandmaster."

As Gong Er, a doctor who practices "64 Hands," a lethal form of martial arts, she isn't even the movie's star. That honor belongs to Tony Leung, who is equally compelling and distinguished as Ip Man, the master of the Wing Chun school of Kung Fu and the Grandmaster of the title.

Ip Man is a name that is familiar to fans of Bruce Lee. He was that martial arts master's teacher in Hong Kong and the one credited with steering him from the path of juvenile delinquency in the 1950s.

In the past decade, Ip Man has become something of a cottage industry in China. He's the focus of dueling multipart movie biographies and TV shows, with each iteration of his life on the big screen taking him further down the road into the same legendary fog that engulfed his most famous student.

Now Ip Man (also known as Yip Man) is a mythological figure whose system of self-defense was considered so perfect that it was impossible for friend or foe to catch him in a moment where he was anything less than poised.

Certainly as portrayed in "The Grandmaster" by Mr. Leung, Ip Man is the epitome of dignified stoicism but also happens to be capable of explosive action at a moment's notice. His is a life that spans the indolent last days of the Qing Dynasty to the brutal Japanese occupation of China to self-exile in Hong Kong in the '50s after disasters have decimated his family.

The film opens with the wealthy but disciplined Ip Man fighting off a contingent of attackers in the rain. He wears a hat and a full-length coat that barely ruffles during the fight he dominates easily. It is a brutal but beautiful set piece that alternates between balletic and bombastic thanks to the film's director of photography, Philippe Le Sourd.

Audiences are soon escorted into a world of ceremonial challenges and elaborate duels between rival martial arts schools from the northern and southern regions of China. Ip Man, who is considered first among equals of the martial arts masters of southern China is soon drawn into a battle with the visiting Grandmaster Gong Baosen (Wang Qingxiang) and his beautiful but deadly daughter, Gong Er.

It is during his epic battle with Gong Er that Ip Man, against his will, discovers that he cares deeply for his opponent. It is just enough forbidden passion to distract him from the fight as Gong Er, who has never been defeated, ekes out a win over the unbeatable Ip Man.

Their love is mutual but unspoken. Gong Er returns to the north to her medical practice while Ip Man stays within the sanctity of his marriage. Although they continue to long for each other for more than a decade, Ip Man and Gong Er are too constrained by marriage vows, a promise to the gods and their own integrity to act on their feelings.

Meanwhile, the world of courtly martial arts battles and unbendable honor gives way to Japanese occupation and shocking collaborations. Not only must Ip Man contend with poverty for the first time in his life, he has to deal with a tragedy that visits his home.

Still, it is all but inevitable that Gong Er and Ip Man would meet again, this time in Hong Kong. The formality that accompanies their unconsummated passion is almost too much to bear. The film's elaborate fight scenes choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping come almost as a relief at that point.

In the end, the story, which takes incredible liberties with the facts of Ip Man's life, is more poetic revery than a traditional biopic. This doesn't detract one iota from the movie's power. It is possible to ignore the subtitles and come away with the emotional gist of the movie. Director Wong Kar-wai has outdone himself with a movie that continues to unfurl in one's head long after the credits have rolled.

With English subtitles. Opens today at AMC-Loews at the Waterfront.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Showtime information on Grandmaster (Opens on Friday):

AMC Theater

In Google (shows theater information)

Mubi (online discussion - with links to other resources)

Fandango (order tickets online)
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More information on The Grandmaster Film:

From Hollywood Reporter:

From DVD Review:

From Berlin 2013:

From Roger Ebert:

From IMDB:
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Review: Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmaster' has great martial arts style 'The Grandmaster' from Wong Kar-wai stars Tony Leung as Ip Man, who trained Bruce Lee. It's a sweet feast of martial arts action.

By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

August 22, 2013, 3:51 p.m.,0,111957.story

"The Grandmaster" is like a meal of all desserts, with maybe the tiniest bit of protein thrown in. You'll feel decadent enjoying it, but everything is so tasty, it would be foolish to object.

An exercise in pure cinematic style filled with the most ravishing images, "The Grandmaster" finds director Wong Kar-wai applying his impeccable visual style to the mass-market martial arts genre with potent results. He's found a way to join the romantic languor of his earlier films like "In the Mood for Love" with the fury of Bruce Lee.

Working with his alter ego, actor Tony Leung, and an impressive Ziyi Zhang — and leaving the action choreography to the masterful Yuen Woo-ping ("The Matrix," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") — Wong indulges in mythmaking on the grandest scale.

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It is Lee's real-life martial arts teacher, the legendary Ip Man, played by Leung, who is the grandmaster of the title. Though nonfans are likely unaware, we are amid an Ip Man revival: Several films and a TV series have come out of China about this master of the Wing Chun style, and a new film, "Ip Man: The Final Fight," will soon be in theaters as well.

Already Wong's biggest hit ever in mainland China, "The Grandmaster" has, with his approval, been slimmed by 22 minutes for American audiences. The director says that with this cut, the film has been "finessed into more of an emotional, human story."

The narrative has been tidied up with the addition of intertitles explaining Chinese history, a new voice-over read by Leung, and on-screen character identifiers, all intended to make the story clearer to those not already in the know.

All this matters less than it might because the narrative turns out to be "The Grandmaster's" least essential element, serving as little more than a way to link the string of action tableaux that are the film's raison d'être. (Indeed, when people are talking, their dialogue leans heavily on aphorisms like "a well-matched opponent is like a long-lost friend" and "mastery has three stages: being, knowing, doing" — musings that would not be out of place on the old David Carradine-starring "Kung Fu" TV series.)

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The saga begins in 1936, and though Chinese martial arts schools have traditionally been divided into north and south by the Yangtze River, a northern master named Gong Baosen (Wang Qingxiang) has headed south to the city of Foshan to seek a rapprochement before he retires.

Ip Man, as it turns out, is the most respected name in the southern school of Wing Chun. A family man and gentleman of leisure who's devoted himself to the martial arts, he hangs out in the Gold Pavilion, the local brothel and gambling den where, the saying goes, many a man has "entered a prince and exited a pauper."

Before we really find out much about Ip, we see him in action. "The Grandmaster" opens with the great man, wearing his trademark snap brim white fedora, taking on a crowd of martial artists who, for no apparent reason, attack him in a driving rainstorm. The scene is a pip, as well it might be: It took 30 successive nights of shooting to get it right.

Leung engaged in martial arts training for three years to prepare for this role. It paid off not only in the imperturbable self-confidence he brings to his movements but also in how effective he is in one particular sequence where masters of four martial arts styles — hong ga, bagua, xingyi and baji, if you care to know — try to catch him off guard with moves with names like the Crushing Fist. It's not going to happen.

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The most emotional fights in "The Grandmaster," however, involve Gong Baosen's firecracker daughter Gong Er (played by Zhang of "Crouching Tiger"). The mistress, we are told, of the deadly 64 Hands fighting technique (not to be confused with her father's Old Monkey Hangs Up His Badge moves), Gong Er's passionate temper gives Zhang the opportunity to make the film's strongest impression.

Gong Er displays her artistry in two very different fights. The first is an elegantly photographed battle with Ip Man himself, where the twirling combatants half fall in love with each other as they trade graceful feints and jabs (Philippe Le Sourd is the cinematographer).

The second, more serious battle is a ferocious struggle with her adopted brother Mo San (Zhang Jin) that takes place on a snowy train platform late at night, a situation that somehow echoes a scene from "Doctor Zhivago."

For a martial arts extravaganza, that is elevated company indeed.


'The Grandmaster'

MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, some smoking, brief drug use and language

Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Playing: At AMC Century City, ArcLight Hollywood, Landmark West Los Angeles

Last edited by Sandy on Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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