Wong Kar Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’, a film that took a decade of preparation and nearly four years of filming, finally opened in China, Hong Kong, and Macau cinemas last week. It has been more than five years since the acclaimed Hong Kong director released his last feature film, ‘My Blueberry Nights’, which starred Norah Jones and Jude Law, and nearly nine years since his last Hong Kong film, ‘2046‘.
Film critics originally questioned Wong’s ability in producing kung fu epics, as the director is mainly known for his works on pensive, arthouse films. However, Wong’s $300 million HKD film ended up exceeding expectations. Mainland Chinese moviegoers flooded to the theaters on its January 8 release date. In mainland China, the film grossed 29.8 million RMB on its opening day Tuesday. In Hong Kong, the film earned $1.8 million HKD on its January 10 release date.’ The Grandmaster’ has since grossed more than $225 million HKD in the Greater China box office, succeeding ‘2046′s record in 2004.
‘The Grandmaster‘, a biopic of Wing Chun legend Ip Man, centres on the conflicts between Northern and Southern Chinese martial arts. Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Wong’s longtime collaborator, portrays Ip Man. Zhang Ziyi portrays Gong Er, the confidant daughter of Gong Baolin (portrayed by Wang Qingxiang), a baguangzhang master from the Northeast. To protect her family’s honor and to avenge for her father’s death, Gong Er travels to the South to challenge Ip Man’s southern martial arts. Chang Chen co-stars in the film as the special agent, Razor. Song Hye-kyo stars as Ip Man’s wife, Cheung Wing Sing.
‘The Grandmaster’ opened in Hong Kong on January 10 to great ovation and success. Numerous Hong Kong film entertainers have expressed their excitement and appraisal of the film through their Weibo, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Among the most enthusiastic critic was fellow Hong Kong director and competitor, Wong Jing, who chose to challenge ‘The Grandmaster’s Hong Kong box office with his gangster film, ‘Young and Dangerous: Reloaded’, which was also released on January 10. Wong Jing wrote, “I am very, very impressed. Since 1988 until now, this is the first time when I felt like I have truly lost.” Chapman To, Leo Ku, ‘Ip Man’ director Wilson Yip, and ‘You Are the Apple of My Eye’ director, Giddens Ko have all praised the film in their respective social media sites. ‘Love in a Puff’ director, Pang Ho Cheung, wrote, “The Grandmaster in two words? A masterpiece.”
‘The Grandmaster’ will open in Taiwan on January 18 and Singapore on January 31.
Norah Jones has a small role in upcoming film ‘Wah Do Dem’.
She talks a bit about starring in My Blueberry Nights in an interview with The AV Club:
AVC: The reception for My Blueberry Nights was pretty rough, and some of the reviews singled you out for your inexperience. Did you have any sort of trepidation about going in front of the camera again?
NJ: No, I don’t. I think I did what I was supposed to do in that film, because the director… There was nothing to prepare for. There was really no script to prepare with. He instructed me very explicitly to not take acting lessons. He likes to place his actors or whoever they are, whether they’re actors or not—you know, whether I was good or bad, or whether people liked it or not, I had a great time. I love film, and I would love to be a part of something that people universally love as a piece of film. Sure. Of course I would. And I would love to take acting lessons, and see that side of it someday. But I’m a musician. These two films I’ve done, I’ve done because even though they’re very different, they’re kind of loose and they seemed interesting. I felt like they were just another way to be creative, both at times in my life and career where I’ve been a little burnt out on doing what I do. So they both kind of have had a similar placement for me.
AVC: I’ll be honest, it’s not one of my favorite Wong Kar-wai movies.
NJ: Oh, mine either! [Laughs.] You know, whatever. [Laughs.]
AVC: Wong was clearly working out of his element, and without a lot of his regular collaborators.
NJ: Exactly. And I think for him, the language barrier—he speaks great English, but I think things are always more poetic on subtitles, so… [Laughs.] But I still loved making the film. I loved working with him. And I also loved, just visually his films are so beautiful. That one was no exception. And that was just really fun.
AVC: And whatever else, you get to—
NJ: I get to be pretty. If you’re a female and you get asked by someone who shoots the most beautiful female scenes to be in their film, it’s kind of exciting. [Laughs.] You know? I don’t usually look good like that, so—
AVC: There’s a lot of anticipation for all Wong Kar-wai’s movies, and that inevitably leads to disappointment sometimes.
NJ: He just has such a cult following. And I think, of course, if he’s going to make a movie in America with some famous movie stars, he’s going to get jumped on no matter what. It was great, though. It was really fun. I mean, some of the actors I got to work with, that was a great acting lesson right there. Watching them take what they were given, which was probably not traditional for what they do either. Even though I was out of my element, I felt like everyone kind of was in that film, which made it interesting from my perspective.