The Grandmaster (Review)

The Grandmaster“The Grandmaster” is about the modern Wing Chun Kung Fu legend, Ip Man. Ip Man was Bruce Lee’s only formal instructor, with an interesting back story in his own right.

I am going to do my best keeping this to a movie review, though I will say the movie has come at a time in my Martial Arts career that opened a floodgate which will force me into a treatise in the very near future.

As for the movie, this is not for the average audience, and will quickly slip out of the theaters for a variety of reasons. It is a foreign, Chinese, film brought to the U.S. and the rest of the world by Martin Scorsese. As such, it is subtitled, and many will not relish having to read a movie. Its plot line is thin. While Ip Man did face many challenges in his life, there is hardly enough to fill two hours. In fact, a third of the film is about Gong Er, the daughter of Master Gong, the head of the Northern Chinese Martial Arts Union, who also became a dear friend and unrequited love of Ip Man.

There is good and bad in this film. Wong Kar Wai’s direction has vision, but at times the pacing drags. A little more than halfway through, he begins a flashback sequence to fill in the storyline of Gong Er, at which point all sense of time begins to break down. Some of the very stylistic cinematography and slow motion work are simply stunning, individual frames becoming pieces of art. At other times he resorts to double-framing in order to capture the slow motion effect, alluding to his vision but failing to realize it. The score is well done, though at times, due either to composer or editor, it drops dead leaving one feeling unbound to the film.

That said, most of the action sequences are arresting, pulling you into the subtle breaths and blows of the martial arts. Diehard Kung Fu and Martial Art fans may enjoy this movie for picking out their own little bits of language and form.

Wait for Redbox, or NetFlix. It may, once dubbed, appear on FX some late night. Fans of Wing Chun should attempt to see it in some fashion.

About Sifu Keith Mosher

My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge". I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager, and I am currently an Author and a Martial Arts Instructor.
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