Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Grandmaster (Wong, 2013): Mini-Film Review

Wong Kar Wai's award winning film The Grandmaster reveals how much there is left to explore in the martial arts genre, even for those who enjoy everything from the 1976 Master of the Flying Guillotine, Jackie Chan's 1980s films, Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle, and Donnie Yen's Ip Man, which -- like The Grandmaster -- recounts the life of Bruce Lee's martial arts master from a different perspective. Wong presents Ip Man in terms of motivation and desire. To do so, the director includes familiar techniques he has used past films such as In the Mood for Love, for example fragmented images of his characters through mirrors, and a strategic use of slowmo. While the use of intertitles in The Grandmaster creates a strange documentary feel, I find the film very much worth seeing -- the film's color palette alone is both visually overwhelming and appealing. Is a kung fu film with perfect lighting, classical music, and exquisite sets adorned with late-Qing opulence too much to ask for?

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