The Grandmaster Review


As a kungfu movie with great action scenes, based on the life of Bruce Lee’s master, The Grandmaster will probably appeal to kungfu zealots, diehard kungfu fans. Besides, as a director with great reputation, Wong Kai-wai use his magic to boldly design plots, smoothly transition scenes, precisely set the atmosphere and express his understanding of Ip Man. The movie strongly reflects Wong’s personal style. Wong is meticulous. So when you see the images, especially the remarkable close-up shots, and hear the audio, which uses both drumbeats and silence to create tension, you will not be surprised that shooting this movie took Wong 10 years.

However, the storytelling inevitably shares some strange features with Wong’s other movies. The story was broken into pieces, moved around in time and places, used different people to do the voiceovers. This is really confusing for audiences, since you need to pay close attention to know who are the leading roles, and what they are talking about. Even if you do follow the chronology, you shall may not understand why the movie was structured in this way.

Wong also paid a lot of attention to the actors’ lines in this movie. If you can understand Chinese, you will find out the lines were carefully designed in terms of word, structure, rhyme, allusion, etc. But Wong put so many profound lines that sometimes I thought I was surfing In the other hand, reading English subtitles were much simpler than hearing Chinese (which combined Mandarin, Cantonese and other dialects). So thanks to the subtitles. They made it a more comfortable watching experience for me. While, for American audiences, I am not sure people will feel the same.


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