Director Wong Kar Wai, and actors Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, and Max Zhang Jun attended the Hong Kong Kong premiere of ‘The Grandmaster’. Critics compared ‘The Grandmaster’ of resembling Wong Kar-wai’s earlier film ‘In The Mood For Love’. Wong Kar-wai explained that he already had the idea for the film as early as 1989. “The preparation took years because I had to visit seven or eight provinces for martial art masters.” Zhang Ziyi did not conduct any interviews. Song Hye-kyo was in South Korea but sent a video.
Tony Leung did not believe that Song Hye-kyo was upset that her role was reduced to just six minutes screen time. “Wong Kar-wai wouldn’t be at odds with anyone, I too had my scenes cut.” He described after three years in production the final half a month exhausted him thoroughly, as hard as the last 10 minutes of a marathon. As for Donnie Yen stating that he would watch ‘The Grandmaster’, Leung said, “I am not afraid of comparison, I have my own interpretation of the role.”
Ticket sales have been decent as many booked in advance, obviously Wong Kar-wai fans have been waiting for the film for a long time. Tony Leung’s martial art scenes have always been the focus. In the film he fought ferociously, completely relying on editing methods to assist and adjust. As for memorable scenes, they seemed to be Wong Kar-wai’s salute to his own classic films ‘In The Mood For Love’ and Fallen Angels’.
The film is about the life of Wing Chun master Ip Man, but the story actually could not leave Wong Kar-wai’s trademark “romance” out of the equation by depicting Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi’s ambiguous relationship in particular detail. Their duel, spinning in the air and exchanging looks nose to nose was the most memorable; then through their letter exchanges and clothes buttoning to express their feelings, which were already full of poetic artistry.
The martial art fight scenes were the main focus of the movie for which Tony Leung studied Wing Chun. In the first half of the film, his six fight scenes were very convincing without any use of a stunt double. Of course he also relied on camera work and editing methods to assist and adjust, making the film even more intense and brilliant.
Zhang Ziyi and Max Zhang Jun’s fight at the train station looked the part and fought excitingly. Chang Chen fought decently as well but his role was drastically reduced in the film. He and Zhang Ziyi’s emotional scene was also deleted, weakening his character and made him less of an attraction than Zhang Jun.
Korean star Song Hye-Kyo as Mrs. Ip Man was pretty and sexy enough, but the role was too light. With only two lines she did not have much chance to perform, but she made up for it with her eyes and expressions; however she and Leung had intimate scenes. She wiped the unbuttoned Leung and showed off her legs as he bathed her feet.
The film also had many familiar scenes like reflections of Wong Kar-wai’s past work and salutes to them. Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi locking eyes was like ‘Fallen Angel’s Leon Lai-ming and Michelle Reis’ love at first sight; Zhang Ziyi’s heart to heart with a hole in the wall reminded people of ‘In The Mood For Love’ where Tony Leung’s character whispered a secret into a hole in a tree. Leung washing Song Hye-kyo’s feet was just like his massage for Maggie Cheung Man-yuk in ‘In The Mood For Love’. As for Ip Man changing into a suit and applying gel to his hair reminded people of ‘In The Mood For Love’.
Wong Kar Wai as usual invited different guest stars, this time was no exception with Julian Cheung Chi-lam, Berg Ng Ting Yip, Lo Hoi Pang, Xiao Shenyang, action director Yuen Woo-Ping, Zhao Benshan, Tsui Kam Kong, Lo Mang. Tsui Kam Kong appeared in one shot and had no lines; Julian Cheung had no lines but portrayed a Chinese Opera star. Appearing in ‘Ip Man 2′, Lo Mang was the only actor who was able to take part in ‘The Grandmaster’. The challenging master Lo Mang and thug Xiao Shenyang added humor to balance the film’s tension. Veteran actor Lo Hoi Pang’s role was not large but his every move was dramatic.