Nee Hao’s Film of the Year 2013: The Grandmaster

Six years in the planning and three years in the making, THE GRANDMASTER is an epic action feature inspired by the life and times of the legendary kung fu master, Ip Man. The story spans the tumultuous Republican era that followed the fall of China’s last dynasty, a time of chaos, division and war that was also the golden age of Chinese martial arts. Filmed in a range of stunning locations that include the snow-swept landscapes of Northeast China and the subtropical South, THE GRANDMASTER features virtuoso performances by some of the greatest stars of contemporary cinema.

THE GRANDMASTER

With THE GRANDMASTER, Wong Kar Wai has made a kung fu film like no other. Years of research before production and a virtual battalion of martial arts trainers on set ensured that THE GRANDMASTER
portrays both the Chinese martial arts and the world of the martial artists with unprecedented authenticity, with fight scenes choreographed by renowned action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping (THE MATRIX, KILL BILL, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.) The trio of international superstars at the film’s heart – Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang and Chang Chen – all underwent several years of rigorous and extremely
challenging kung fu training for their roles.

Grandmaster1

Shot by French Director of Photography Philippe Le Sourd and with art direction by Wong’s long-term collaborators William Chang Suk Ping and Alfred Yau Wai Ming, THE GRANDMASTER represents a new chapter in the martial arts genre and in Wong Kar Wai’s own stellar career.

THE GRANDMASTER

The story 

It begins as the story of Ip Man (Tony Leung), the legendary teacher of Bruce Lee and a master of the Wing Chun school of kung fu. It becomes the portrait of a bygone era and a lost world.

Ip Man was born in Foshan, in the south of China, to a wealthy family. His wife Zhang Yongcheng (Song Hye Kyo) is the descendant of Manchu nobility. Pursuing a single-minded passion for Wing Chun, Ip Man is often seen at the Gold Pavilion, an elegant brothel that serves as a meeting place for Foshan’s kung fu masters and whose women possess a few martial arts secrets of their own.

In 1936, China is experiencing political turbulence and the threat of division. The Japanese have invaded the northeastern provinces collectively known as Manchuria. Grandmaster Gong Baosen (Wang Qingxiang), whose home is in Japanese-occupied Manchura, and who is the leader of the martial arts world of Northern China, arrives in Foshan. He had been to Foshan previously to initiate exchanges between the martial artists of the North and those of the South but this time he has come at the invitation of the Southern masters to hold a ceremony at the Gold Pavilion to celebrate his impending retirement.

An integral part of the ceremony involves a challenge and display of martial arts skills with a younger man. During a similar ceremony held at home in the Northeast, Gong’s disciple and successor Ma San (Zhang Jin), a Xingyi master, performed this role. Master Gong’s daughter Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang), who is the sole inheritor of her father’s lethal Bagua-style ’64 Hands’ technique, also arrives in Foshan to witness her father step down. It is here where she encounters Ip Man. Who is qualified to take up the Old Master’s challenge.

Challenge leads to challenge, and masters contest masters.

THE GRANDMASTER

Meanwhile, the ongoing Japanese occupation of the Northeast sets the stage for a betrayal that will shake Master Gong’s world. It will also cause Gong Er to make a decision that will change the course of her life. Gong Er and Ip Man meet again in Hong Kong in the 1950s; a new world populated by old alliances, lasting grievances, and fragments of past lives and desires. Ip Man, despite having lived through difficult and terrible times after the Japanese invaded Foshan, will not be defeated by hardship. He opens a school for Wing Chun in Hong Kong and soon acquires devoted disciples (including, in reality, Bruce Lee) and popularizes this form of kung fu: it has spread throughout the world and remains popular to this day, taught in countless schools all over the world.

Film distributor : The Weinstein Company

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