The Grandmaster sets out to tell an elaborate and epic tale of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man who taught Bruce Lee. Wing Chun is a Chinese concept-driven martial arts and the movie centers around the fighting style as well as the concepts behind it. The movies takes place in 1930’s Hong Kong after the Second Sino-Japanese War and chronicles the life of Ip Man as well as Gong Yutian, another martial arts master from Northern China.
Director Har Wai Wong has certainly accomplished a visual masterpiece in The Grandmaster. His other accomplishments include In the Mood for Love, My Blueberry Nights, 2046 and my personal favorite Chungking Express. The cinematography was done by Philippe Le Sourd, who also was on the cinematography team for Seven Pounds featuring Will Smith.
To understand both the philosophy and the physical movements of martial arts, Wong and Le Sourd made a smart choice to use slow motion but avoid all the gimmicks. In the rain fight scene featured in the trailer (below) the frequent cut-aways to rain and extreme detail on Ip Man’s hat solidifies the scene in time and space as well as giving the audience interesting visuals to concentrate on. The scene is therefore grounded in the physical medium, entrancing the audience and not giving them one moment to think about where the safety harnesses or special effects are put in.
Variety reviewed the film and said:
Venturing into fresh creative terrain without relinquishing his familiar themes and stylistic flourishes, Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai exceeds expectations with “The Grandmaster,” fashioning a 1930s action saga into a refined piece of commercial filmmaking. Boasting one of the most propulsive yet ethereal realizations of authentic martial arts onscreen, as well as a merging of physicality and philosophy not attained in Chinese cinema since King Hu’s masterpieces, the hotly anticipated pic is sure to win new converts from the genre camp.
The film is coming out on August 23rd, and earned a 6.6 out of 10 on IMDb. Check out the trailer below!