Future classic a visual feast

Gareth Pang
Gareth Pang |

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The Grandmaster tells the story of wing chun master, Ip Man. Ip is a martial artist who has been living off an inheritance for 40 years. But when Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang), a sifu from Shandong, challenges the best Southerner to one last fight, Ip demonstrates his technique and restraint through a tuishou session, winning recognition from martial artists all over the country.

Master Gong's daughter, Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), however, is less impressed. She challenges Ip to a follow-up fight to restore the Gongs' invincible reputation. But the duel sparks an unspoken yet futile yearning within them both.

Unlike Wilson Yip's Ip Man and its sequel, The Grandmaster is more than just a biopic of the wing chun master. Wong's primary focus is the characters, and their internal struggle with honour and social rules.

From credit to credit, the film is a visual treat. Wong distills Chinese martial arts into 130 minutes of stunning cinematography. From the glittering Golden Pavilion to the dazzling snowfield, The Grandmaster is a real piece of art.

But while it's a sight to behold, the film feels unfinished; there's an underdeveloped subplot about Chang Chen's character Razor, and Wong struggles to fully realise his vision. Regardless, this is likely to become a classic, like so many of Wong's works.

YP Rating: 4/5

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