Review: the Grandmaster

I haven’t written about the Grandmaster, the new movie about Ip Man directed by Wong Kar Wai. I watched it, I loved it, and I really want to see it again because I watched it on a seat-back monitor on the flight back to Canada from South Korea. Watching it at that size is absolutely sub-optimal – and that’s being generous.

Even on the tiny little monitor – I think it was smaller than the screen on my 10″ tablet – the beauty of the scene compositions was obvious. The cast – Tony Leung as Ip Man and Zhang Ziyi as Gong Er, the daughter of the “Northern Master,” were the two most notable – was great and the fight choreography was by Yuen Woo-ping, perhaps the greatest working fight choreographer on the planet. Excuse the hyperbole, but dude really is tight.

I was asked if this was as good as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, definitely the most famous wuxia movie worldwide. It gave me pause and led me to reflect on the strengths of the two movies and the two directors.

Yuen Woo-ping choreographed both movies, and I think the fight scenes were certainly comparable. The Grandmaster might have a slight leg up just because Yuen Woo-ping has had to bring something new to the table with each new movie, so I think he worked harder giving the Grandmaster action and moves not previously seen.

I think Ang Lee, the director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is a better director of actors, and I think the performances he directed are superior to those in the Grandmaster. Wong Kar Wai, in my opinion, is a better visualist, and I believe the Grandmaster is a much more beautiful movie than CT:HD. That is not to say that the Grandmaster has bad acting or that CT:HD isn’t beautiful, because both statements are provably wrong, however each movie has a strength and for the Grandmaster, that is the visuals.

If you dig kung-fu fighting and want to see a pretty moving, gorgeously wrought motion picture, I recommend the Grandmaster. I give it 4.5 fists in rain out of 5.

You can learn more about the Grandmaster here.

You can learn more about Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon here.

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