The Grandmaster

It could be a case of things getting lost in translation, but the new Wong Kar-wai biopic of legendary martial arts instructor Ip Man is befuddling. There have been movies about Ip before—four in just the past five years, plus a new TV series in China—so how is The Grandmaster better or different? Hard to say, but it does have very solid performances by Tony Leung as Ip and Zhang Ziyi as the love of his life, and the cinematography can be very good. But the chronology makes weird jumps, there’s an awful lot of narration that doesn’t explain where anything is going, and every time a new character pops up, he or she gets a shiny new subtitle. In short, it doesn’t appear that this was carefully made. And the ending sure doesn’t feel like an ending that would satisfy anyone.


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