Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmaster” is a Must-See

Wong Kar Wai’s (王家衛) The Grandmaster <一代宗師>, a film that took a decade of preparation and nearly four years of filming, finally opened in China, Hong Kong, and Macau cinemas last week.

It has been more than five years since the acclaimed Hong Kong director released his last feature film, My Blueberry Nights, which starred Norah Jones and Jude Law, and nearly nine years since his last Hong Kong film, 2046.

Film critics originally questioned Wong’s ability in producing kung fu epics, as the director is mainly known for his works on pensive, art house films. However, Wong’s $300 million HKD film ended up exceeding expectations.

Mainland Chinese moviegoers flooded to the theaters on its January 8 release date. In mainland China, the film grossed 29.8 million RMB on its opening day Tuesday. In Hong Kong, the film earned $1.8 million HKD on its January 10 release date. The Grandmasterhas since grossed more than $225 million HKD in the Greater China box office, succeeding 2046’s record in 2004.

The Grandmaster, a biopic of Wing Chun legend Ip Man, centers on the conflicts between Northern and Southern Chinese martial arts. Tony Leung (梁朝偉), Wong’s longtime collaborator, portrays Ip Man. Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) portrays Gong Er, the confidant daughter of Gong Baolin (portrayed by Wang Qingxiang 王庆祥), a baguangzhang master from the Northeast. To protect her family’s honor and to avenge for her father’s death, Gong Er travels to the South to challenge Ip Man’s southern martial arts.

Chang Chen (張震) costars in the film as the special agent, Razor. Song Hye Kyo (宋慧喬) stars as Ip Man’s wife, Cheung Wing Sing.

Director Wong Jing: “I Have Truly Lost”

The Grandmaster opened in Hong Kong on Thursday, January 10, to great ovation and success. Numerous Hong Kong film entertainers have expressed their excitement and appraisal of the film through their Weibo, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Among the most enthusiastic critic was fellow Hong Kong director and competitor, Wong Jing (王晶), who chose to challenge The Grandmaster’s Hong Kong box office with his gangster film,Young and Dangerous: Reloaded <古惑仔:江湖新秩序>, which was also released on January 10.

Wong Jing wrote, “I am very, very impressed. Since 1988 until now, this is the first time when I felt like I have truly lost.”

Chapman To (杜汶澤), Leo Ku (古巨基), Ip Man <葉問> trilogy director Wilson Yip(葉偉信), and You Are the Apple of My Eye <那些年,我們一起追的女孩> director, Giddens Ko (九把刀) have all praised the film in their respective social media sites. Love in a Puff <志明與春嬌> director, Pang Ho Cheung (彭浩翔), wrote, “The Grandmaster in two words? A masterpiece.”

The Grandmaster will open in Taiwan on January 18 and Singapore on January 31.

Source: Sina.com

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  1. director wong kar wai always gives out a vibe of “mysterious aura” cool charisma persona..no wonder, all his past movies actors/actresses also are cool & have mysterious aura …faye wong, brigitte, tony leung, leslie cheung, maggie cheung…no wonder his movies always create certain kind of “cool” abstract & even no need script too…wow

    1. There is one thing bad about this movie. You don’t realise it until you compare it with other Engligh action or Bruce Lee movies.

      Whenever somebody speaks the camera would zoom into the face, from forehead to the chin, displaying part of the head covering the whole height of the screen. Such shots are disturbing when done too often.

      And whenever there is a fight scene you don’t see the whole body action. What the camera shows is a small part of the hand/fist or leg. Because of the close-up shots all actions appear in flashes, and you are kept wondering who hit/kick who. You don’t see the full display of Kung Fu movements.

      In Kung Fu action movies, the most critical part is to show the whole body action, from hand to toe, of the fighters throughout the fights. Viewers want to see how those punches and kicks are executed in full view. In the absence of such camera shots, the movie is not worth watching. Such scenes can be acted by anybody without Kung Fu Skills!
      This movie is spoilt by bad camera shots, and maybe bad directing.

      Take a look at those Bruce Lee action movies and compare them with The Grandmasters, and you will understand the difference in quality of the camera shots.

      1. Jack Russell,
        It’s expected that stunt doubles would be used in “The Grandmaster” since the stars are not life-long martial artists and only trained in martial arts forms specifically for the film.

        Due to Wong Kar Wai’s requirements to display the intricate hand and footwork of martial arts (which a good martial arts film should always display hand-to-hand combat instead of simply wirework), the zoom to limbs angles were necessary. Otherwise utilizing the actors themselves and showing the full head-to-toe view would never satisfy Wong Kar Wai.

        The Bruce Lee and Gordon Lam movies have endured such popularity because of the reasons you mentioned. But “The Grandmaster” should not be viewed as a typical martial arts film, similar to how “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” contained some non-realistic fight sequences as well.

  2. This top 10 weekly box office screenshot shows how Grandmaster tops Chinese box office(in USD Millions) this week after 6 days of screening and beating out CZ12:


    Rank: 1
    Title: The Grandmasters
    Gross(M us$): $25.78
    Cumulative Gross(M us$): $25.78
    Screening days: 6
    Screening numbers: 142465
    Admissions: 4552310
    Average Ticket Price: $5.7

    1. Those lower budget love based movies by Chilam and Bosco after 3 days of cinemas don’t reach 1 Million USD(6 million Yuan) although placed at 5th and 6th place respectively, but it seems that both movies fared better than Ron and Stephy’s horror flick earlier which only got 0.2 Mi USD after 3 days.

      Rank: 6
      Title: Love in Time
      Gross(M us$): $0.49
      Cumulative Gross(M us$): $0.49
      Screening days: 3
      Screening numbers: 11,130
      Admissions: 109,359
      Average Ticket Price: $4.5

      Rank: 6
      Title: Born to Love You
      Gross(M us$): $0.46
      Cumulative Gross(M us$): $0.46
      Screening days: 3
      Screening numbers: 13,683
      Admissions: 96,519
      Average Ticket Price: $4.8

  3. Since the movie takes too much of a toll on the production team, the success must feel sweet to them after such hard work for many years.

  4. I have only seen one of Wong Ka Wai’s film which star Wong Faye- CH Express. After that whenever I see his name as a director, I don’t even bother to read up on it. I’m just not artistic enough to understand his film. Tony Leung is not one of my favourite artists.

  5. Reading raves on ‘In the mood for love’ and ‘Chungking’ I borrowed first ‘mood’ then Chungking dvds to watch. I was prepared to like WKW movies cos’ I generally like artistic movies but I didn’t. Well, maybe it was just ‘mood’ so I watched Chungking but again I was totally bored by it snail pace story-telling and disappointed with it too. Guess I just wasn’t into WKW’s kind of artwork. So wasn’t even interested in watching 2046 cos’ I knew I would be just as bored as I was with its predecessors.

  6. I think you have to be in the right mood to watch his movies. If you think of them less as movies and more as peeking into the lives of some very interesting people then they become much more enjoyable. Kind of like eavesdropping on a very interesting conversation between 2 strangers.
    Don’t go into it expecting a solid story with beginning and end, but more like brief scenes within a stranger’s life that you happen to witness and you will enjoy them a lot more.
    I didn’t enjoy his movies at first because I was expecting a traditional movie with beginning,middle, and end – and the story just seemed pretentious and incomplete. – However after watching his movies and understanding that they are just a few scenes from some unusual people’s lives makes them a lot more enjoyable. – Like people watching at the cafe on your day off.
    Try “Fallen Angels”, it’s probably the most accessible (as far as story goes. I haven’t seen GM yet) of his movies and will help you to watch the others easier and understand what he is trying to create.

  7. The ranking might be a bit “deceptive” as the other blockbusters like CZ12 and Lost in Thailand have been out for a while. It remains to be seen as to what the final results for “Grandmaster” are like.

    One thing for sure is that with a price tag of HK$300 million, it would be hard press for the film’s investors to be highly profitable over this.

  8. Tony is already pissed off at the director for cutting most of his scenes…there’s always the uncut DVD version Tony 😀

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