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The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster

By Howard McQuitter II

“The Grandmaster” (2013) 

**** 1/2

Drama/Action/Adventure Weinstein Company 

Cast: Tony Leung (Ip Man),Chen Chang (The Razor), Ziyi Zhang (Gong Er), Zhao Benshan (Ding Lianshang), Hye-Kyo Song (Zhang Yongchen), Xiao Sherr Yang (San Jiang Shui). (PG-13) Running time: 130 minutes. Languages: Mandarin/Cantonese/Japanese. Countries: China/Hong Kong. Director: Kar Wai Wong. 

Men in black in a night rainstorm perform martial arts in such stylist form they almost look like dancers dancing to Swan Lake. In super slow motion the raindrops splash like waves of an ocean and movements of men kick and punch each other like mountain goats clashing horns in silent thunder.

Director Kar Wai Wong spent ten years on the project “The Grandmaster,” indeed, turning out, what I call, a grand film.

Often times with martial arts films it can be difficult or impossible just what era is being depicted. Kar Wai Wong (“As Tears Go By” [1988]. “Happy Together”[1995], “In the Mood for Love” [2000], “My Blueberry Nights”[2007] ) begins his tale in China, in 1936, at the time the Japanese occupied China, where Ip Man (Tony Leung), later to be the teacher of Bruce Lee. Ip Man must take on the kung fu artists of the day.

The best scene is between Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang) and Ip Man battling it out in full kung fu ritual as a train is passing by. Gong Er had learned of her father’s death and she isn’t one to forgo payback. She has already broken a tradition in her country usually reserved for men.

Not only is Ip Man up against other kung fu masters out to defeat him but he resists the Japanese occupation with hardship to follow him. Eventually, he moves to Hong Kong after World War II.

“The Grandmaster” is a gorgeous, pictorial film including a mellifluous soundtrack.

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