Eleven Initial Thoughts on The Grandmaster (2013)

grandmasterI’ve just come out of seeing Wong Kar-wai‘s The Grandmaster. Here is what I think you need to know going in:

1. Hollywood has pulled its usual bait and switch when it comes to selling foreign movies to American audiences. Do not buy in to what you have seen in the trailers.

2. This is not a movie that is purely exhilarating action set pieces. That’s not to say they aren’t there, they definitely are, but the movie is so much more than that.

3. This is a film that focuses much more on the arts part of the phrase martial arts that the martial aspects.

4. What it actually is is a meditation.

5. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does help if you have some understanding going in about the differing schools and styles of Chinese martial arts and their rivalries.

6. It also will help if you have some understanding of the effects of World War II on Chinese culture and life, and especially on the relationship between Japan, Mainland China, and Hong Kong. Again, I don;t think it’s completely necessary, but it does help.

grandmaster-37. The film is also a love story, but not in the way you might expect.

8. As one would expect from any Wong Kar-wai film, it is absolutely gorgeous.

9. If you have seen Ip Man and Ip Man 2, do not go in expecting a remake of those two movies either. Though the title character is the same, the focus of this movie is completely different than it’s predecessors.

10. Don’t be drawn in by the marketing that emphasizes Ip Man being the man who trained Bruce Lee That really is only an afterthought in this film.

11. I really hope that we will get to see (perhaps on the blu-ray release) the initial Chinese cut of the movie which purportedly is not only some 20 minutes longer but also has a different tone than this “International” release.

Having said all of that, what did i think of the movie? I thoroughly enjoyed it, and definitely give it a hearty endorsement. Just know what you’re getting in to before you buy your ticket.


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