The Grandmaster is a refreshing film, in all the wrong ways, although the Director credits should have sounded a huge warning bell already.
Wong Kar Wai, better known for his arthouse tendencies with films such as ‘In the mood for love’, ‘Chungking Express’ and ‘2046’, brings his arthouse sensitivities to the biopic of Ip Man.
Unfortunately, we’ve (along with the rest of us in the theatre we’re at) all come to an Ip Man movie expecting awesome kung fu. Don’t get me wrong, there are several impressive action scenes, but they are so fragmented, disjointed and random that there was no real purpose behind the fights, other than to capture the beauty of swift palms against lush drifting snow.
The story spans a few decades, including the Japanese occupation, in which Ip Man loses almost everything he owned, and forcing him to relocate to Hong Kong. However, the narrative is extremely loose, and the constantly shifting timeframes do nothing for it.
While it’s ostensibly an Ip Man biopic, his storyline only serves as a bookend to the story of Gong-er (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of a legendary grandmaster. There’s also a story of another man on the run, only known as “The Razor”.
If you think this review is messy, all over the place, and lacking any real action, well, this is the film.
We all wanna see Ip Man take on the bad guys and win, not ruminating about the virtues of kung fu in a brothel amidst slo-mo swirls of cigarette smoke. Unfortunately, this is a Wong Kar Wai film.
I can’t really describe it other than to say “imagine if Tom Hooper were to do a Batman”. As much as I’m appalled to say this, but, I wish I watched Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters instead. GASP!
I do have to say though, Zhang Ziyi did a brilliant job with her portrayal of Gong-er.