Ben Oliver

Banner image for The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster

Kung fu: two words – one horizontal, one vertical.
10 January 2015

Note: I watched the 123 minute version of the film.

The tale of Ip Man, a Wing Chun grandmaster who mentored and inspired the likes of Bruce Lee.

Wong Kar-Wai directs this martial arts biopic, more about the end of an era than about the life of Ip Man. It’s a gorgeous piece of work, a it rightly garnered an Oscar nod for cinematography.

That said, looks aside, The Grandmaster is a bit of a mess. Some research I did after the film showed that there were disputes in the editing room, but even without this knowledge one can sense that something is a little off. Scenes often fall into into a dull Hollywood biopic template, then suddenly other scenes are creative and interesting.

The sheer visual delight paired with some great lead performances make Kar-Wai’s work worthwhile, but the weird pace and pritt-sticking scenes together really drag it down.

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