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TV show review: CONTINUUM season 4
PHOTOGRAPHY
THE GRANDMASTER
Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 108 minutes, featurettes, previews
VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition
AUDIO: Chinese Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Dubbed 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish 

STUDIO: The Weinstein Company/ Annapurna Pictures/ Block 2 Pictures/ Sil-Metropole Organisation Limited/ Jettone Films/ Anchor Bay Entertainment/ Starz

RELEASE DATE:  3-4-2014

Wong Kar Wai has to be one of the best and unique Asian directors in cinema today.  He is a Chinese director who fixes visuals with the romanticism seen in European cinema like Felini and Goddard.   He manages to blend several stories during the course of a movie.   THE GRANDMASTER is a combination of character development, kung fu, visuals, and music in one of his most interesting films of his career, but the real problem is you should be tracking down the longer Chinese cut and not the American edit released by The Weinstein Company which looses about 20 minutes of character development for one of the main characters and two of the supporting characters.   This 108 minute version of film feels like an incomplete film looses some of the complexity to the story of Grandmaster Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang)as she seeks revenge for the death of her father and reclaim the family legacy.  Also another grandmaster named Razor has all but one of his scenes excised from this version.   The only character that mostly has his story remain intact (with the exception of a small bit of taking his wife to the opera) is the story of Grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung).  

 

THE GRANDMASTER focuses on the story of two kung fu Grandmasters and their paths in life as Ip Man survives the Japanese occupation of Foshan, China to finding new opportunity to teach his kung fu in Hong Kong after the war while Gong Er follows her own path to revenge and taking a vow she swears not to break to get that revenge.   Gong Er and Ip Man have a romantic tension between the two when thy meet whether it is in a match of martial art skills or meeting for tea at a restaurant. If their paths in life were different, you could see them as a couple engaged in a long romance instead of an unrequited love story due to where each life took them (Ip Man is married and Gong Er is trapped in a world ruled by male dominance where women don’t get to carry on the legacy of a martial art clan.   There are three great martial art sequences in this film where Ip Man fights a group of men in the rain during the opening scene, Gong Er and Ip Man fighting in a brothel, and Gong Er facing off against Ma San at a train station.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

THE GRANDMASTER: FROM IP MAN TO BRUCE LEE is a promotional featurette hosted by mixed martial arts star/ actress Gina Carrano that features interview with critic Elvis Mitchell, actor Keanu Reeves, Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee, director Wong Kar Wai, and the stars of THE GRANDMASTER.  They talk about the film, the legacy of Ip Man and Bruce Lee, and briefly touch on the making of the movie.

A CONVERSATION WITH SHANNON LEE, DAUGHTER OF BRUCE LEE has Shannon talk about her father Bruce Lee (who was trained by Ip Man) and THE GRANDMASTER movie.

THE GRANDMASTER ACCORDING TO RZA had Rza talk about his favorite scenes in THE GRANDMASTER and how he is the grandmaster of his type of music.

 

50 minutes of Behind-The-Scenes featurettes are the best extras on the disc (compared to the other promo fluff featurettes) as it goes into detail into the pre-production and production process of THE GRANDMASTER including Wong Kar Wai visting several kung fu masters in China during the long research phase, Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang learning martial arts for the movie (and Tony didn’t know any kung fu before he prepared for this film), creating the time period specific look for the movie, creating a train station set, and the collaborative action choreography of Yuen Wo Ping.

 

Also included on the disc are previews for other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company (KILLING THEM SOFTLY, Keanu Reeve’s MAN OF TAI CHI, DJANGO UNCHAINED).

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:   The action and visual artistry in THE GRANDMASTER is fantastic, but the American cut of the film is flaw version of THE GRANDMASTER and you should check out the longer (and better) Chinese cut of the film.

 

This review is 3-14-2014 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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