Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"The Grandmaster": Wong Kar Wai Takes Us to a Time Before Bruce Lee 

Wednesday, Aug 28 2013

In spite of what the marketing campaign suggests, Bruce Lee is not a character in Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster. For that matter, The Grandmaster isn't the only Hong Kong film in recent years to tell the story of real-life Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung); it isn't even the only one with the word "grandmaster" in the title. But Wong's take on the story is the one getting a domestic release, and deservedly so, because it's a thoroughly gorgeous movie. One expects nothing less from a Wong film, but he's firing on all cylinders, with both fight sequences and non-fight sequences alike frequently making mesmerizing use of slow motion. They're often reminiscent of those HD "things blowing up in super-slow motion" videos, but not in a gimmicky way, instead finding genuine beauty in an action as seemingly simple as a foot lifting off the ground in the rain. Wong has re-edited the film for American audiences, not dumbing it down so much as de-emphasizing the minute attention to Chinese history that can be difficult for Westerners to follow; in the process he has created a more linear story. None of that detracts from The Grandmaster's sensual pleasures, though it's a shame Ip Man doesn't wear that excellent Raylan Givens-style hat for the whole movie.

About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


  • U2 @ SAP Center in San Jose
    Last night U2 performed the first U.S. date of it’s Innocence + Experience tour at SAP Center in San Jose. All four band members were present despite recent injuries sustained by both Bono and Edge. The sold out show took audience members on a walk down memory lane as the band revisited their roots. The innovative stage and lighting used gave the arena show an intimate feel, and engaged audience members in all sections of the venue. Photographs by Sugarwolf.
  • Bay to Breakers 2015 - NSFW
    The 103rd annual Bay to Breakers 12K race was packed on Sunday despite the cold weather. With a starting point a few blocks from The Embarcadero, people dressed as bananas, Elvis and everything in between ran west through the city and finished at the Great Highway where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach.

    Photographs by Christopher Victorio.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed