The Grandmaster

September 3, 2013 at 11:23 am | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

I confess at the front that I am not much of a fan of director Wong Kar-Wai (“My Blueberry Nights,” “2046”).  I tend to find his films to be painfully slow and profoundly beautiful.  That is really the crux of what I have to say about this film.  It purports to tell the story of Ip Man, the Chinese Kung-Fu master of the early 20th Century, who went on to train Bruce Lee.  However, it would appear that there is little in his life that is all that exciting.  So, what we get instead of a cogent, linear and/or interesting story is a series of vignettes, often out of chronological order, involving various key folks in Kung-Fu at the time.  They are rivals and they occasionally fight.  The fighting, when it occurs, is absolutely beautiful.  It is choreographed by Woo-Ping Yuen, who is famous for choreographing the “Kill Bill” series and many of the classic Kung-Fu movies of the 1970s.  These scenes are dynamic and graceful and full of amazing cinematography.  Would that that were enough.  But, without the cogent plot like these other films (or “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” or “Hero”) it was hard to really care about the action when it arrived.  In the end, I felt too disconnected to care and the film felt like one long (too long) pretty picture.

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