TheFallenDemon / Member

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Film Review: The Grandmaster

 This review probably won't be too long because I don't feel like putting that much effort into a site I no longer frequent as much The Grandmaster is the latest in the long line of extremely loosely based on fact movies about Ip Man, alleged trainer of martial arts cinema legend Bruce Lee. In all other cases, this would make it yet another unremarkable footnote to a fad in Asian cinema but unlike the other Ip Man movies this movie to its credit has the directorial vision of Wong Kar Wai, who directed several notable Hong Kong films such as In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, and 2046. The overall value of this movie ultimately depends on what you'd prefer - a Wong Kar Wai movie or a martial arts epic. Those looking for the latter will be severely disappointed, as its ultimately more a Wong Kar Wai film that it is a movie about wing chun fighting or even the title character himself (Ip Man).  In case you don't know what that means, expect a lot of slow moving scenes using visuals and sounds to their maximum effect to generate Emotion 98.3. And he even pulls off that 'ol half-way main character switch from Chungking Express here. But since this is a movie about a martial arts master, there are many fight scenes interspersed between the best parts of the movie - the slow moving imagery stuff. This proves to be a flaw with the movie - while the action itself looks nice it often veers into slow-mo over the top territory that severely conflicts with the more grounded in reality aim of the movie. While the most known movie about Ip Man (2009's Ip Man) was essentially a propaganda piece that would've better been called Ip Man Punches Japan, the action actually looked somewhat plausible. But here, with people being smashed into trains and smashing wood carriages with their bare legs... it near breaks the immersion. Acting - Wong Kar Wai casts his longtime collaborator Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love, 2046, Infernal Affairs) as the lead Ip Man. He does a fine enough job. The main female character (the perspective switch I was talking about earlier) is played by Zhang Ziyi who you may remember from that other martial arts movie, but I don't think her character was too memorable. Editing - the film was clearly edited and cut for its North American release, and as such I'm not going as in-depth as I would have for this review because I don't feel like I got the director's complete vision. the version i saw in theaters didn't feel very well paced and some subplots and characters were abandoned or just flew by in a blink  the film is very beautifully shot however, what we've come to expect from the director. the cinematography (pretty pictures) and the moods they evoke are the ultimate highlight of the movie this is the end of my rambling for now