Notable Cast: Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Wang Qingxiang, Zhang Jin, Chang Chen, Cung Le, Yuen Woo Ping
While the trend to pump out as many Ip Man films as possible continues to flood the market (thanks mostly to the Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen combo of films that took the world by storm), this latest incarnation seems to be the most intriguing. "The Grandmaster" has already seen numerous different cuts of the film and it's the first Ip Man film to see serious wide distribution in theaters in the US. That's right. A theatrical release in over 700 theaters. While I found the film to be disappointing overall, it's still easy to praise "The Grandmaster" for what it does right even if it's far from the film that deserved this honor of a major theatrical release in the US.
While "The Grandmaster" has earned its fair share of stellar reviews from various sources of merit, I'm not one that normally looks to those sites and magazines for opinions on martial arts films to be honest, I still had high hopes for it. Wong Kar Kai is a phenomenal director, Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi are astounding actors, and Yuen Woo Ping is damn near a grandmaster himself when it comes to kung fu choreography. This film had a lot going for it. So to say that I came out rather confused and irritated says something...
|Wong Kar Kai loves using rain and snow in this film.|
From there the film takes a turn for the super dramatic and often too artsy path. The rest of the film sort of blinks in and out of Ip Man's life giving us little glimpses into mere moments. While it's an artistic choice to do so to cover more ground by the director and writers, it also happens to be a bit schizophrenic in the overall storytelling abilities. Secondary characters like the assassin Razor or the villainous Ma San become after thoughts of the style and major moments in Ip Man's life (like moving to Hong Kong and leaving his family) feel like random blurbs via Twitter with no effect on his overall character. Even our leading lady Gong Er, played with strong finesse by Zhang Ziyi, seems to become something of a half thought as the film rolls on never quite reaching that emotional connection needed for me to give two shits about her character's existence or fate. "The Grandmaster" just sort of meanders around giving us art focused moments, but no cohesion to the rhyme or reason of it all only to end on a rather cheesy note.
|Test your might!|
Written By Matt Reifschneider