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The Grandmaster

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlMHFlJJxUg

This trailer for the new WKW film has reminded me of Johnny To's film Sparrow, which I don't think was ever released in the U.S. I really liked that film. It had a dark street slo-mo showdown like this that was awesome.

Edited by Overstreet

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A new Wong film is always cause for celebration. That said, I hope this stab at a martial arts flick is better than ASHES OF TIME.

This reminds me of the rain showdown from THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. But better.

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Anders   

This reminds me of the rain showdown from THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. But better.

Ha. I was just going to say this.

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Anders   

A new trailer:

No doubt this is going to be a beautiful film. And Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi are two of my favourite screen presences of all time. Plus, Yuen Woo-ping.

As to what else it will be, too early to say.

Also, I will be very surprised if this is released outside of China this calendar year.

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A new trailer:

No doubt this is going to be a beautiful film. And Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi are two of my favourite screen presences of all time. Plus, Yuen Woo-ping.

As to what else it will be, too early to say.

Also, I will be very surprised if this is released outside of China this calendar year.

Sadly, I think you're right.

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opus   

Twitch's James Marsh calls it "an action-packed visual feast". More:

The Grandmaster remains first and foremost a Wong Kar Wai film, employing a very slow, deliberate pace throughout and dedicated long periods of time to watching its characters ponder the great mysteries of life, or more often, wallow in their own regrets and missed opportunities. But this is interspersed by some truly fantastic action, which should delight kung fu fans and arthouse cinephiles alike. In The Grandmaster, Wong Kar Wai has crafted the best-looking martial arts film since Zhang Yimou's Hero, and the most successful marriage of kung fu and classic romance since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and is more than deserving of that film's measure of international success.

This makes me very happy, especially in light of the drubbing that Jackie Chan's Chinese Zodiac received.

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Michael Sicinski just rated it a rare, high "8" ... thus catapulting it to the top of my must-see list.

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Michael Sicinski just rated it a rare, high "8" ... thus catapulting it to the top of my must-see list.

I hope he writes a full review.

THE GRANDMASTER is a difficult film. It is more devoted to a kind of elliptical narrative form than any film Wong has previously made, and it's stop-and-start mode of narrative is exceedingly jarring and puzzling in places (this is very much an extension of 2046, though that film seems considerably more coherent than this one). It's as though Wong willfully refuses to allow the film to take any recognizable narrative shape.

The film does eventually circle back to Wong's familiar interests--romance and memory--and he concludes his picture with a very big nod in the direction of Sergio Leone's own grand statement on memory, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Anders   

Michael Sicinski just rated it a rare, high "8" ... thus catapulting it to the top of my must-see list.

I hope he writes a full review.

THE GRANDMASTER is a difficult film. It is more devoted to a kind of elliptical narrative form than any film Wong has previously made, and it's stop-and-start mode of narrative is exceedingly jarring and puzzling in places (this is very much an extension of 2046, though that film seems considerably more coherent than this one). It's as though Wong willfully refuses to allow the film to take any recognizable narrative shape.

The film does eventually circle back to Wong's familiar interests--romance and memory--and he concludes his picture with a very big nod in the direction of Sergio Leone's own grand statement on memory, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.

Did you guys shell out for the HK import Blu-ray? Or is it playing near you? What were your thoughts on the quality of the HK release?

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What were your thoughts on the quality of the HK release?

The quality seemed fine to me; the film looked vibrant and beautiful via my home theater system.

I am tempted to see it during its theatrical release, provided THE GRANDMASTER comes to a theater with a significantly large screen.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Apparently the cut being released in US theaters is significantly different than the Chinese release (which is the cut I saw). The Weinsteins pushed for a more action-packed, less melancholy film.

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opus   

Apparently the cut being released in US theaters is significantly different than the Chinese release (which is the cut I saw). The Weinsteins pushed for a more action-packed, less melancholy film.

 

I'm shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- by this. 

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Too many reviewers who have seen both cuts are saying that the US version lays waste to the contemplative original. I'm skipping it until I can see the Chinese version. But damn... I really wanted to see this on a big screen.

 

Here's one...

 

Here’s the bad news: If you’ve only seen the American Cut of “The Grandmaster”, you haven’t seen “The Grandmaster”. While Wong Kar-Wai is living proof that the first cut of a movie that escapes onto cinema screens should not be implicitly regarded as a definitive or holy object, “The Grandmaster” tragically illustrates how refinements can shear away what made a movie so special in the first place. While Wong is rather transparent about how the American cut is a concession to cultural ignorance rather than an artistic statement, he’s profoundly mistaken in thinking that such a concession was required in the first place, and may be too close to the material to recognize that the American cut is insanely reductive and, at the same time, also harder to understand than the original.

 

The Chinese Cut coherently splits its focus between Ip Man (Tony Leung) and Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi as the beautiful daughter of a revered rival), devoting itself to the distance between them and the varying extent to which they fight to maintain the historical virtues of their respective fighting styles, and resolving into an appropriately fragmented portrait of time outpacing tradition. The Chinese Cut uses the brunt of its 130 minutes to hauntingly illustrate how the only histories that we can own are the ones intimately shared between people, the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) serving only to underscore how history is human.

 

The American Cut says nuts to that, ditching Ip Man’s romance with Gong Er and instead attempting to distill Ip Man’s life – his tragedies and his revered legacy – into a device for shoveling a path through history, its edits so completely obfuscating purpose in the name of action that the action soon loses all meaning. The resulting film is a horror show of ribbons, a cut that confuses itself into thinking that naming people with instructive on-screen text is somehow more informative than showing us who they are.

 

Edited by Overstreet

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FWIW, there is a new Ip Man film (Ip Man: The Final Fight) coming out 9/20 (although it hit VOD today). Ddirected by Herman Yau who did Ip Man: The Legend is Born.

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Roderick Heath gives it the Ferdy on Films treatment.

 

The Grandmaster sounds in abstract like a shift of direction for the director in tackling a biopic that’s also a martial-arts action drama. But, as the melancholic warriors of Ashes of Time and the oddball spin on the loner-assassin motif in Fallen Angels portended, The Grandmasterproves rather a dizzying sprawl of images and almost associative storytelling methods that revise how this, or indeed any, kind of filmmaking can deliver. It may be Wong’s most stylistically and thematically ambitious work.
Wong tests Ip Man’s folk-hero status less by de-romanticising him than by studying the forces that create such figures and bury others. Thus, Wong turns the stuff of paperback heroism into raw material for one of his elusively poetic meditations on time and fate.
Undoubtedly, The Grandmaster might prove a frustrating experience for viewers expecting a traditionally structured story that delivers familiarly neat character arcs and studious explication. Indeed, Wong’s original concept was just such a movie. But the finished film is a different, far more adventurous success, a bold, extraordinarily executed fusion of approaches that adds up to a genuinely great cinema experience.

 

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Saw this today, and while it's beautiful to look at, you can just feel how it's been sliced to bits.  Several times I wasn't sure if what I was watching was flashback story, or current timeline. 

 

Ryan H. said: ... and he concludes his picture with a very big nod in the direction of Sergio Leone's own grand statement on memory, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.

Are you referring here to a certain Ennio Morricone musical theme that begins making it's way into the story?  It took me a minute to place it when it first started.  

Of course, a less desirable nod to Leone might be that this version of The Grandmaster may suffer as much as the US cut of Once Upon a Time in America.

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Attica   

Ryand H said:

 

 

:Apparently the cut being released in US theaters is significantly different than the Chinese release (which is the cut I saw). The Weinsteins pushed for a more action-packed, less melancholy film. 

 

 

John Drew said:

 

:Saw this today, and while it's beautiful to look at, you can just feel how it's been sliced to bits.  Several times I wasn't sure if what I was watching was flashback story, or current timeline. 

 

 

Saw this in a local theatre tonight.

 

Yeah, the Western theatrical cut had some confusing bits.  I personally could have done with more of the action cut out and more of the melancholy story scenes added in.  While I appreciate the martial arts i stil found myself phasing out after awhile, during some of those scenes.

 

But, I absolutely love the graceful poetic beauty of some of those story driven scenes.  Especially after about half way through.  Add to that the beautiful music.  It was masterful.  I was even wondering at times if the filmmakers were trying to achieve the same master of their craft as their subject matter.  Incredible cinematography

 

The storytelling was a little odd and disjointed at places, but I saw this as maybe walking into the realm of experimental film, at least a little.  It certainly didn't play out a three act structure in any typical way.

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M. Leary   

 

Michael Sicinski just rated it a rare, high "8" ... thus catapulting it to the top of my must-see list.

I hope he writes a full review.

THE GRANDMASTER is a difficult film. It is more devoted to a kind of elliptical narrative form than any film Wong has previously made, and it's stop-and-start mode of narrative is exceedingly jarring and puzzling in places (this is very much an extension of 2046, though that film seems considerably more coherent than this one). It's as though Wong willfully refuses to allow the film to take any recognizable narrative shape.

The film does eventually circle back to Wong's familiar interests--romance and memory--and he concludes his picture with a very big nod in the direction of Sergio Leone's own grand statement on memory, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.

 

 

It is also difficult because I constantly feel as if I am missing some massive historical and cultural undertones that make the film even more intense than it already feels (similar to another favorite: Let the Bullets Fly). I found the alternation between the martial arts historical narrative and Ip Man's sorrowful personal history to be pretty provocative. Wong, like Murakami, is a very particular type of historian. While I have thought, like everyone else, that Wong is interested in memory and romance, his films are starting to seem like an attempt to embody a certain texture of history that emerges when both of those basic human experiences are taken seriously as history.

 

 

 

Roderick Heath gives it the Ferdy on Films treatment.

 

The Grandmaster sounds in abstract like a shift of direction for the director in tackling a biopic that’s also a martial-arts action drama. But, as the melancholic warriors of Ashes of Time and the oddball spin on the loner-assassin motif in Fallen Angels portended, The Grandmasterproves rather a dizzying sprawl of images and almost associative storytelling methods that revise how this, or indeed any, kind of filmmaking can deliver. It may be Wong’s most stylistically and thematically ambitious work.
 

 

I am not sure if I agree that this is his most ambitious work from this perspective. It certainly presents as one of his most massive films just from the perspective of scale and narrative complexity. But despite the "associative" stuff going on, there is something remarkably simple, and even prayerful in a Buddhist way, about the film.

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