Two days after being released in Hong Kong, Wong Kar-wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’ accumulated HK$2.82 million at the box office (excluding late shows). With stronger and stronger momentum it pulls away from the same week release, Wong Jing’s‘ Young And Dangerous: Reloaded’; the latter grossing only HK$860,000 over two days.
Wong Kar-wai initially cut ‘The Grandmaster’ into a 4 hour version. Due to running time restrictions he cut it down to the current release of 130 minutes; many scenes were “missing”. A newly-released production special showed glimpses of some of the deleted scenes. Tony Leung personally explained Ip Man and talked about his kung fu training.
In Tony Leung’s eyes Ip Man was mild mannered and elegant, he did not resemble a kung fu person; he rose and fell and in the end he was able to calmly be himself. Wong Kar-wai hoped that Leung’s Ip Man performance would be a mix of Ip Man and Bruce Lee. He tried to combine them for the effect. Leung said that Ip Man enjoyed kung fu as much as Bruce Lee but normally he was so mild mannered that no one knew he could fight. He said that Bruce Lee was his childhood idol. When he was 7 or 8 he was already a kung fu fan. Because his family was poor and felt that he would get into fights after learning kung fu, he was not permitted to learn.
When he explored the character, he thought that the character’s appearance could be expressed through technique. Yet if he did not understand the inside of the character he had no way to express its aura, which was not something that could be achieved over night; this his long term training was necessary. “The first the fracture was only a hairline, the second time it was already cracked like shark teeth!” Because he did not want to hinder the progress, Leung originally wanted surgery but the doctor did not suggest it. He could only tell Wong Kar-wai to wait 4 months for him; thus Wong Kar-wai could only head to the Northeast of China and shoot the Zhang Ziyi train station duel first, but he ran into the coldest winter in history. Zhang Ziyi had to shoot in 30 degrees below zero.
Wong Kar-wai revealed that Tony Leung was reluctant. After recovering for about three weeks he headed to the Northeast to look for him and said that he could work on dramatic scenes. In the film Ip Man said that if life had four seasons, his before age 40 was all spring. Turning 50 this year Leung said, “Now is still spring for me. Because I have been very lucky to run into very excellent film people to work with. Making this film has changed my view on life. In the future I will choose to be optimistic because the character of Ip Man is different from my characters in recent years. My recent characters are all depressed, but this time he is very positive and optimistic. Now I like to happy and joyous, I feel the world has hope. Thus after ‘The Silent War’ I wanted to make some happy and warm movies.”
In the production special the removed scenes included Tony Leung and Song Hye-Kyo’s sweet romantic couple scene, Ip Man sweetly smiling with his wife in his arms. When the Japanese military arrived, they got into a struggle and she slapped him. In the released version of the film, Chang Chen’s exciting duel with Leung at the end of the film was removed. His appearance with a razor to fight Leung was also unveiled.
Leung in one scene washed his wife’s (played by Song Hye-kyo)’s feet. He said, “I was forced to, Wong Kar-wai asked me to choose between bathing my wife or washing her feet. I could only choose washing her feet.”
The production special even uncovered that Ip Man once visited Master Gong Er in the Northeast. Leung in the drifting snow passed through the plum blossom courtyard, where they encountered each other again. Leung said he did not mind so many scenes and dialogue being cut because ‘The Grandmaster’ was Wong Kar-wai’s film. The director shot so much that cutting was necessary. Chang Chen agreed with Leung and said that he did not mind.
The featurette also revealed Julian Cheung Chi-lam as two characters, not only as a Chinese Opera actor but also Zhang Ziyi’s fiance. In this scene he only made an appearance in a flash.
Although the film received good response, Leung never thought about winning Best Actor with this film again because that was not his goal for making the film.