DVD Review – The Grandmaster (2014)

The Grandmaster shows us the life of famous Wing Chun martial artist Ip Man (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) throughout his life and the different obstacles he had to overcome. How he was chosen as the heir of southern style martial arts opposing against the northern style. The only way for Ip Man to be accepted amongst the other martial artists is to spar and outsmart each master.

The heir of the northern style is inherited by Ma Shan (Zhang Jin), a student of Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang) – skipping past his daughter Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang) another talented martial artist. Yutian doesn’t want his daughter to follow in his footsteps – he wants her to forget martial arts and focus on medicine.

The story becomes interesting when Ma Shan brings great dishonour against Gong Yutian – Gong Er plans on correcting that mistake.

I’m so glad I finally got to see Wong Kar-Wai’s Ip Man movie – it’s so bizarre that Tony Leungs portrayal of Ip Man wasn’t interesting as his female co-star! It’s the story of Ziyi Zhangs character Gong Er and her family name that stole my imagination. That final battle at the train station? It was amazing! I forgot about Ip Man!

The cinematography is impressive, the lighting, the sets, the music – it’s almost a 100 minute advert for fancy cologne! It’s very warm and rich – it reminded me of In the Mood for Love. Everything seems to be lit with gold, at least in the swanky brothels they are. The rest of the film is washed out with rain water or covered the purest white snow. I expected nothing less from Wong Kar-Wai and surprise cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd.

The UK release of The Grandmaster is revealed to be twenty minutes shorter than the original release. Scenes are briefed with blocks of text explaining the period/situation before we cut to actors.

Sure, we’re missing a subplot or some throw away scenes that we didn’t need – but when it comes to the credits – Tony Leung pops revealing a quick montage of several fight scenes that are quickly cut together and finished with an inspirational quote – I call bullshit, I would have appreciated seeing these extra fight scenes in the film, not tacked on at the end of the credits like it’s a Marvel movie stinger and having Leung pop out these cheesy one liners is just daft, it’s like a shampoo advert level of cringe.

Now I’m also classing this review as just a Movie review, because the DVD includes zero special features which is equally annoying as we are aware that this film is twenty minutes shy of the full Chinese release. Just give us some deleted scenes!

Overall, I’m glad I finally saw it – but I’m a little let down by the version we’ve seen.