Acclaimed director Wong Kar Wai presents his martial arts epic The Grandmaster together with two equally acclaimed actors, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhang Ziyi, much to the excitement of fans.
The Grandmaster was conceived by Wong a good 10 years ago though Wilson Yip beat him to screen with Ip Man and Ip Man 2. The film is originally named The Grandmasters and should stay so for the plot, instead of focusing solely on the assumed grandmaster of Ip Man, also touches on other grandmasters including Zhang Ziyi's role as the stubborn but adept daughter of another grandmaster as well as a suppressed love interest of Ip Man (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai). Korean actress Song Hye-kyo also stars as Ip Man's wife, Zhang Yongcheng.
Words play a huge role in this Wong Kar Wai rendition of the famed Wing Chun exponent including a often repeated teaching: "Kung fu: two words. One horizontal, one vertical. If you're wrong, you'll be left lying down. If you're right, you're left standing, and only the ones who stand have the right to talk." But that is not to say there's no action. In fact, The Grandmaster begins with one of its many beautifully explosive action sequences, a dazzling mix of slow motion and fast-forwarded sequences choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). Unsurprising, with gorgeous visuals and choreography plus top-notch actors, The Grandmaster won itself the place as the 2013 Berlinale's opening night film.
As with all artistic film endeavours, patience is required with Leung's version of Ip Man, which is vastly different from the fast-moving and more accessible version by Yen. Nonetheless, the film has its own merits and is definitely worth the trip to the threatre.