Opening on September 4 in Australian cinemas is Wong Kar Wai’s take on the Ip Man story, The Grandmaster. It’s been a long time coming: the film’s Chinese release happened in January 2013, and it’s taken this long for it to wend its way through the mysterious process of international distribution.
The story is a very loose biopic of real-life martial artist Ip Man, famous for being Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun teacher and more recently the set of Hong Kong action pics, the first couple of which were apparently planned, shot and released in between the announcement and final release of Wong’s film. Told in typically elliptical WKW style, this film stars HK star Tony Leung Chiu-wai — who trained hard for the part — in the lead, with Zhang Ziyi opposite him as the daughter of a northern Chinese master. Read Liz’s review for all the details!
The action direction is from Yuen Woo-ping, and martial arts film buffs will be able to play spot-the-legend, from modern MMA kickboxer Cung Le in the opening scene through to greats of old like Bruce Leung, Lo Mang and Lau Kar-yung in brief cameos.
Here’s a trailer:
It should also be noted that it looks like the version screening here is the 109-minute international edit (the same one that screened at MIFF), not the 130-minute version that was released in China: you can read a little more about the edit, which director Wong himself says is tighter and provides more historical context, here in a brief piece on the Huffington Post.