Review of The Grandmaster by James Marsh
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Only hours for world premiere.
The Hong Kong auteur is still putting final touches to his martial arts epic, with the film to be delivered to mainland Chinese censors hours before its first press screening in Beijing on Jan. 5
HONG KONG – Producers of Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster will be transporting the film for clearance with mainland China’s censors on the morning of Jan. 5 – just hours before a scheduled press screening in Beijing in the afternoon.
According to Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, Wong is still working on the film’s post-production in Thailand today (Jan. 4) with his production designer William Chang Suk-ping.
The report stated that the film’s financiers and distributors, Sil-Metropole Organisation, will deliver copies of the film to the Film Bureau in Beijing to secure a screening license in the country. The film will also be submitted to the Communications Authority in Hong Kong for a film classification in the city.
The world premiere of The Grandmaster will take place in the Chinese capital on Sunday (Jan. 6), with Wong attending a press conference beforehand with stars Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen. The film will then be released on Jan. 8, and then subsequently opening in Hong Kong, Wong’s hometown, on Jan. 10.
The Grandmaster was originally slated for release in China and Hong Kong in December. While the cast has been doing publicity for more than a month already, Wong has yet to grant interviews to the press. His assistants have responded to media requests saying the filmmaker remains busy at work finishing the movie, which will open the Berlin Film Festival – where Wong will serve as head of the official competition jury – on Feb. 7.
Sil-Metropole has already put in a place a 300-strong team ready to deliver digital prints to theatres across China once the film is green-lit by the authorities, according to the Apple Daily report.
The Grandmaster will be the sole major production to be released in China next week, and is widely expected to have a clear run at the box office before Skyfall opens on Jan. 21. The performance of Wong’s film will challenge the successful runs of festive hits Lost in Thailand and CZ12. The former has already secured 1.1 billion yuan (US$176.5 million) at the box office and is now vying to become the highest-grossing film in Chinese history, a record presently held by Avatar (which took 1.38 billion yuan/US$221.4 million in the country).
Nearly a decade in the making, The Grandmaster is a fictionalized account of the early career of Ip Man, a real-life martial arts expert and the mentor of Bruce Lee. Details of the story have been scarce but the film is understood to revolve around the rivalry and romance between Ip (played by Leung) and specialists from other martial arts schools in northeastern China.
While boasting a stellar cast and action choreography from Yuen Woo-ping (who designed fight scenes for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Matrix trilogy), production of the film has been subjected to a few hiccups, with Leung having broken his arm while training for his role before shooting began.
True to style, Wong has also subsequently conducted additional filming after principal shooting has ended, while also requiring his actors to be on stand-by for possible extra contributions to the film. Interestingly, Chang has spent so much time in practice that he became a real athlete himself, winning a mainland martial arts competition earlier this year.
With his films securing regular critical garlands in the film festival circuit – a Best Cinematography title for Ashes of Time (1994) in Venice, a Best director prize for Happy Together (1997) in Cannes and a Best Non-European Film gong for 2046 (2004) at the European Film Awards – Wong remains one of the most well-known auteurs to come out of Hong Kong in recent years.
The 54-year-old has become such an art-house brand that festival directors have given him much leeway in exchange for his films to take a bow at their events. The most memorable incident took place in 2004, when Cannes announced the inclusion of Wong’s erstwhile untitled (and unfinished) film in its official competition. The festival had to cancel the first screening of the film because Wong was unable to finish the film in time, and reports stated that a copy of the film was transported straight from the processing labs to the Grand Theatre Lumiere in time for its world premiere.
DEC 19, 2012:
WONG KAR WAI’S THE GRANDMASTER TO OPEN 63RD BERLINALE
The international premiere of The Grandmaster by Chinese director and president of this year’s jury, WONG Kar Wai, will open the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.The Grandmaster is an epic martial arts drama set against the tumultuous backdrop of 1930’s China and inspired by the life and times of the legendary IP Man (Tony LEUNG Chiu Wai), mentor to Bruce LEE. The plot encompasses themes of war, family, revenge, desire, love, and memory. The all-star cast headed by Tony LEUNG Chiu Wai (Days of Being Wild - Berlinale Forum 1991,Chungking Express, Happy Together, In The Mood for Love, 2046, all directed by WONG Kar Wai), also includes Ziyi ZHANG (Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon, D: Ang Lee), who was a guest at the 2009 Berlinale Competition with Forever Enthralled (D: CHEN Kaige), CHANG Chen (Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon; Eros, D: WONG Kar Wai), ZHAO Benshan (Happy Times, D: ZHANG Yimou), XIAO Shengyang (A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop, D: ZHANG Yimou - Berlinale Competition2010) and SONG Hye Kyo (A Reason to Live, D: LEE Jeong-hyang), as well as hundreds of Asia’s top martial artists.
“It is a special honour for us to open the 2013 Berlinale with the presentation of the newest film by this year’s jury president, WONG Kar Wai. With The Grandmaster, Kar Wai has added a new and exciting facet to his body of works, and created an artful, visually powerful genre film,” says festival director Dieter Kosslick.
Nearly three years of film production and almost a decade of preparation went into the making of The Grandmaster for its director WONG Kar Wai, who began exploring the idea for the film in 1996.
“I am truly very honoured by Dieter and his invitation for my new film The Grandmaster to participate in the 63rd Berlinale and to open the festival. This is a dream project for me that I had been developing for many years. I am very happy to be able to present it in Berlin. I was already greatly looking forward to my returning to Berlin to serve as the President of the International Jury, so seeing The Grandmaster presented there will make it all the more special for me,” says WONG Kar Wai.
With his signature style-defining mood, atmosphere and reality, director WONG Kar Wai delves into the eternal question in martial arts of whether the victor is more than merely the “last man standing”, and brings the genre to new heights.
The Grandmaster is a Block 2 Pictures and Sil-Metropole Organisation presentation of a Jet Tone Films and Sil-Metropole Organisation production. It is written and directed by WONG Kar Wai.
The Grandmaster will be presented as the opening film in the official selection, but screening out of competition.
The world premiere of The Grandmaster will be celebrated on January 8, 2013 in China, and the film will open at cinemas in numerous countries including Germany in spring 2013. The film’s distributor in Germany will be Wild Bunch.
December 19, 2012
After five years of waiting and numerous delays, it looks like Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster (which is officially no longer plural) is finally going to be unleashed on the public. After it’s Hong Kong release date was pushed back from December 18 to January 8, the film is apparently now set to open just two days later on January 10. Moreover, it has just been announced as the opening film for the Berlin Film Festival. I doubt even an internationally-respected director like Kar Wai has the clout to pull a festival’s opening night film for tinkering, so at the absolute latest, we’ll get some reactions to the film by mid-February.
Once again, this is Kar Wai’s take on the legendary martial arts master Yip Man, played here by the incomparable Tony Leung Chiu Wai. The first trailer did make it look like a departure of sorts for the moody auteur, promising something like an all-out action movie with arty cinematography. Still, based on his previous forays into martial arts (Ashes of Time) and killer-for-hire (Fallen Angels) genres, I’m betting that time and unrequited love will somehow factor much more into this one than fighting. We’ll find out soon regardless.
The Grandmaster has been delayed again. No surprise about that. I don’t believe in January as final date either. I think it will be at the Cannes Film Festival.
When do you think the movie will be released?
When you’ve been waiting five years, what’s another few weeks between friends? The frustrating yet wholly unsurprising news has broken that Wong Kar Wai’s martial arts epic The Grandmasters has been pushed back yet again, from its 18 December release date to 8 January 2013 in both Hong Kong and China. While Sil-Metropole and Bona Film Group have issued no official statement as to why the film has been delayed, the rumours floating around the Internet have suggested that Wong has left the editing suite and is shooting new footage. In an effort to keep desperate fans from breaking down their doors and wrestling the film from them immediately, the film’s distributors have issued four new character posters.
What do you think about this making of The Grandmasters?
What do you think about this full trailer for Wong Kar-wai The Grandmasters?