The Grandmaster (film)
Hong Kong poster
|Cantonese||Jat1 Doi6 Zung1 Si1|
|Directed by||Wong Kar-wai|
|Produced by||Ng See-yuen
|Screenplay by||Wong Kar-wai
|Story by||Wong Kar-wai|
|Music by||Shigeru Umebayashi
|Cinematography||Philippe Le Sourd|
|Editing by||William Chang|
|Studio||Block 2 Pictures
Jet Tone Films
Bona International Film Group
|Distributed by||Sil-Metropole Organisation
Bona Film Group
|Running time||130 minutes|
|Language||Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese|
|Budget||¥240 million (US$38.6 million)|
|Box office||¥312 million (US$50 million, China only)|
The Grandmaster is a 2013 Hong Kong–Chinese martial arts drama film based on the life story of the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man. The film was directed and written by Wong Kar-wai and starred Tony Leung as Ip Man. It was released on 8 January 2013 in China. It was the opening film at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2013. The film was selected as part of the 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival. The Weinstein Company has acquired the international distribution rights for the film. The film has been selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.
The movie begins with Ip Man reflecting on martial arts, and then cuts to a scene of a fight under the rain between Ip and a dozen combatants. Ip Man wins, and experiences flashbacks of his life, from his early training at the age of seven to his induction into martial arts by his master Chan Wah-shun, and his marriage to his wife Cheung Wing-sing.
Ip Man's peaceful existence is threatened by the arrival of Gong Yutian, a martial arts master from northern China, who announces that he has already retired and has appointed Ma San as his heir in the North. He then concedes that the South should have its own heir. A flurry of discussions and fights erupt as various masters attempt to challenge Gong, but they are all barred by Ma San. As the Southern masters are deliberating on a representative, Gong Yutian's daughter Gong Er arrives and she tries to convince her father not to continue the fight, as she feels they are all unworthy. Meanwhile, the Southern masters decide on Ip Man to represent them, and Ip proceeds to be tested by three Southern masters before he challenges Gong Yutian. However, the "fight" between Ip and Gong turns out to be actually an exchange of philosophical ideas. Gong declares Ip the winner and returns to northern China. However, Gong Er sets out to regain her family's honour by challenging Ip Man, and they agree that if anything breaks, Ip loses. "Kung Fu is about precision", so whoever breaks a piece of furniture during the fight will be the loser. An intense fight breaks out between Ip Man and Gong Er, which concludes with victory for Gong because Ip broke a step at the very end. Ip and Gong then part on friendly terms, with Ip saying he wants a rematch.
Ip Man and Gong Er keep in contact after parting ways by exchanging letters, and Ip intends to bring his family with him to northern China, but his plans are disrupted by the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938. During the war, Ip Man and his family descend into poverty and he loses his two daughters due to starvation. In the meantime, in northern China, Ma San becomes a hanjian and ends up killing Gong Yutian. When Gong Er returns, she confronts her elders for forsaking her father but they tell her that her father's final wish was for her to be happy and not to seek vengeance. Gong Er refuses to accept that, and she vows to never teach, marry or have children her entire life, in order to choose the path of vengeance.
Ip Man moves to Hong Kong in the hope of starting a career as a martial arts teacher, but ends up facing all sorts of challenges because there were also numerous other martial arts masters. He defeats them soundly and earns a reputation. He meets Gong Er again on Chinese New Year's Eve 1950 and asks her for a contest one more time while implying that she should start rebuilding her martial art school. But Gong Er refuses, stating that many martial arts disappeared in the course of history; and that hers would not be the only one. A flashback 10 years earlier shows a confrontation between Gong Er and Ma San at a train station on Chinese New Year's Eve 1940, and Gong defeats Ma after a brutal and intense fight. However, Gong herself is heavily injured and loses her desire to use martial art.
The film then fast-forwards to 1952, when Ip Man and Gong Er meet each other for the last time. Gong confesses to Ip that she has had romantic feelings for him right from the beginning. She dies shortly after. Ip explains in a voice over that in the fight with Ma San, Gong was injured so badly she turned to opium for the pain and this was her downfall. The final scenes offer a visual montage as Ip Man's school flourishes, including a statement that Ip made Wing Chun popular worldwide and his most famous student was Bruce Lee. Off screen, it is stated that Ip Man died in 1972.
- Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Ip Man (Ye Wen)
- Zhang Ziyi as Gong Er
- Song Hye-kyo as Cheung Wing-sing (Zhang Yongcheng)
- Chang Chen as "The Razor" Yixiantian
- Zhao Benshan as Ding Lianshan
- Wang Qingxiang as Gong Yutian
- Zhang Jin as Ma San
- Yuen Woo-ping as Chan Wah-shun (Chen Huashun)
- Xiaoshenyang as Sanjiangshui
- Cung Le as Tiexieqi
- Shang Tielong as Jiang
- Lo Hoi-pang as Uncle Deng
- Chin Shih-chieh as Gong clan elder
- Wang Jue as Gong clan elder
- Lau Ga-yung as Yong
- Lau Shun as Rui
- Zhou Xiaofei as Gu
- Bruce Leung
- Julian Cheung
- Lo Mang
- Berg Ng
Variety gave the film a positive review, stating Wong "exceeds expectations with 'The Grandmaster,' fashioning a 1930s action saga into a refined piece of commercial filmmaking". The review further mentions: "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."
While praising Tony Leung's Ip Man and Zhang Ziyi's Gong Er, The Hollywood Reporter lamented on some of the more underdeveloped characters, such as Chang Chen's Razor and Song Hye-Kyo's Madam Ip, stating, "While Zhang Ziyi’s Gong Er is more or less complete and coherent, the same can't be said of some of the other characters, such as Chang Chen’s Razor, an expert of the Bagua school who is supposed to be another of the grandmasters. Song Hye-kyo’s Madam Ip has only a cursory presence and is basically rendered invisible in the film’s second half."
The Grandmaster has earned HK$21,156,949 (US$2.7 million) at the Hong Kong box office, and grossed over 312 million yuan (US$50 million) at the mainland Chinese box office, and thus becoming Wong's highest grossing film to date.
There are three versions of the film that have been released. First is the domestic "Chinese Cut" of the film that runs 130 minutes. Second is the version of the film that debuted at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival at 123 minutes. The third is the version released by The Weinstein Company that runs at 108 minutes. Notably, each version is unique in its own way, with exclusive scenes being in each version while the reordering of the scenes creates "a whole new film" for each version.
Awards and nominations
- Audience Choice Award
- Nominated: Best Film
- Nominated: Best Director (Wong Kar-wai)
- Nominated: Best Actor (Tony Leung)
- Won: Best Actress (Zhang Ziyi)
- Won: Best Cinematography (Philippe Le Sourd)
- Won: Best Visual Effect (Pierre Buffin)
- Won: Best Art Direction (William Chang)
- Won: Best Makeup and Costume Design (William Chang)
- Nominated: Best Action Choreography (Yuen Woo-ping)
- Nominated: Best Editing (William Chang)
- Nominated: Best Sound Effect (Robert Mackenzie、Trithep Wangpaiboon)
- Ip Man (film)
- Ip Man 2
- The Legend Is Born – Ip Man
- Ip Man: The Final Fight
- Ip Man (TV series)
- List of submissions to the 86th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Hong Kong submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Lee, Maggie (2013-01-08). "The Grandmaster". Variety. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- Stephen Cremin and Patrick Frater (2013-01-15). "Grandmaster has masterful BO debut". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
- Abrams, Rachel (February 7, 2013). "The Weinstein Co. acquires ‘The Grandmaster’". Variety.
- Elley, Derek (January 28, 2013). "The Grandmaster". Film Business Asia. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
- "WONG Kar Wai's The Grandmaster to open 63rd Berlinale". Berlinale. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
- "HKIFF Review: The Grandmaster". HK Neo Reviews. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
- "Berlin: So Much For Bad Blood Between Harvey And Megan Ellison; TWC Acquires Wong Kar Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
- "Oscars: Hong Kong Nominates Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmaster' for Foreign Language Category". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- Kevin Jagernauth (12 July 2012). "Yes, Wong Kar-Wai Is Still Shooting 'The Grandmaster'". [Indiewire].
- Mark Pollard (2009). "Tony Leung injured while training for ‘Grand Master’". [KungFucinema.com].
- Tsu, Clarence. "The Grandmaster: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
- Andrew Chan (29 March 2013). "The Grandmaster". [HK Neo Reviews].
- "The Grandmaster Hong Kong Box Office". HK Neo Reviews. 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
- The Weinstein Company Nabs Wong Kar Wai's 'The Grandmaster' Out of Berlin
- Berlin 2013: The Weinstein Co. Nabs U.S. Rights to Wong Kar-wai’s 'The Grandmaster'
- David Ehrlich. "Kung Foolish: How The American Cut of ‘The Grandmaster’ Ruins a Masterpiece". Film.com.
- Kenneth Turan. "Review: Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmaster' has great martial arts style". Los Angeles Times.
- Official website
- The Grandmaster at the Internet Movie Database
- The Grandmaster at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Grandmaster at the Hong Kong Movie DataBase