Wong Kar-wai's biopic about martial arts legend Ip Man has been given a release date, a decade after it was announced to the world's media.
The Grandmasters will open on the mainland on December 18 and in Hong Kong 'soon after', according to Agnes Leung Kwai-fong, a publicist for Wong's company, Jettone Films.
Leung said yesterday that Wong had done a rough cut and would now add footage involving Tony Leung Chiu-wai, his long-time collaborator, who plays Ip, the martial arts grandmaster who taught screen legend Bruce Lee.
The statement ends speculation about the film's inclusion in this year's Cannes Film Festival, whose line-up will be announced in two days' time. Agnes Leung said the timing was coincidental and that The Grandmasters would not be on the shortlist.
Wong has long been seen as a darling of Cannes, having won a best director prize there with Happy Together in 1997 and having been made its jury president in 2006.
As in the case of most of Wong's films, The Grandmasters has been shrouded in secrecy. In 2002, Wong and Tony Leung appeared in Beijing to brief the media about the project, but facts have since been scant, except that it also features mainland stars Zhang Ziyi and Zhao Benshan , Taiwanese actor Chang Chen and Korean actress Song Hye-kyo, with action choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping.
Tony Leung has spent years preparing for the role, including lessons in martial art wing chun, during which he broke an arm before shooting was to begin in 2009.
The film was slated for completion last year, for the 60th anniversary of its financial backer, Sil-Metropole.
Three Ip Man films have been released during The Grandmasters' gestation. Two were directed by Wilson Yip Wai-shun; the third, The Legend is Born: Ip Man is a 'prequel' directed by Herman Yau Lai-to.
Wong, 54, has long been known for taking his time in his work. The celebrated filmmaker spent five years making 2046, which was delayed by the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic in 2003.