Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Grandmaster

In "The Grandmaster," acclaimed director Wong Kar-Wai attempts to tell the history of postwar China (beginning right after the Pu Yi era chronicled in "The Last Emperor") through the lens of martial arts grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung), son of the southern city of Foshan, and the daughter (Ziyi Zhang), herself an expert, of the northern legend who passed him the torch.

Unfortunately, a little of the martial arts material goes a long way; at times, the film plays like a video game, complete with onscreen captions identifying Ip Man's challengers and their areas of specialty. And neither the history nor the muted would-be romance achieves any of the emotional impact of the Bertolucci film. As you'd expect from Wong, there are some images of translucent beauty, but far fewer than, say, "In the Mood for Love." Where are Maggie Cheung's cheongsams when you need them?

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