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Rated PG-13 · 108 min. · 2013
The Weinstein Company's 108-minute cut of The Grandmaster may not be the epic Wong Kar-wai originally intended, but it's fleet and silvery in its own right. In the late 1930s, an aging martial arts master from Northern China, Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang), treks to the South to find the best fighter. He's already heard about one standout: Ip Man (Tony Leung) is a low-key champion who moves as if there's very little difference between fighting and breathing. Gong Yutian pits him against a series of opponents, including a woman opera singer who advances on tiny bound feet that resemble embroidered deer's hooves. The only person who can throw him off his game is Gong Yutian's daughter, Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), who engages Ip Man in an episode of feral and near-faint-inducing erotic sparring, the sort of thing Wong does best. He roughly sketches out the story of the real Ip Man-- who was Bruce Lee's teacher-- but takes plenty of liberties, particularly in the romance department. The unrequited love between Ip Man and the fictional Gong Er is a slender arc of the movie, but it's a potent one. The two are separated through much of the story, which makes their reconnections that much more tender. Wong can turn a plain coat button into a symbol of chaste and enduring love. And Leung has the kind of face cinema was invented for. Even when he seems to be doing nothing, you can see the ghosts of tension, relief, or yearning in his eyes and the planes of his brow-- instead of opening up, he begins by concealing.


See our full review:

Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster Has Been Cut Down for the U.S. — But Is Still Grand

Plenty of film critics and Asian-cinema aficionados care deeply that The Grandmaster, Wong Kar-wai's pointillist biopic of martial-arts master Ip Man and the director's first picture in six years, will be released in the United States only in a 108-minute version. The cut released in China earlier this year was... »

Director: Kar Wai Wong
Writer: Kar Wai Wong, Haofeng Xu and Jingzhi Zou
Producer: Kar Wai Wong and Jacky Pang Yee Wah
Cast: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Cung Le, Siu-Lung Leung, Hye-kyo Song, Benshan Zhao, Julian Cheung and Qingxiang Wang

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