‘The Final Master’ Continues Hong Kong’s Dominance of the Action Genre

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TheFinalMaster_official PosterThe Final Master follows Wing Chun Master Chen Shi (Fan Liao) as he must defeat eight different martial arts school in order to open his own academy in the region. Not only does Chen Shi have to face off against these other masters, he must contend with the local powers who wish to control ever aspect of the martial arts communities.

The story takes place in 1930s Tianjin, 20 years following the first academy’s opening with in the region. From there many different styles of fighting from around China were being represented.

Written and directed by Haofeng Xu, The Final Master is his first directed film in three years. His last credit was penning the screenplay for 2013 film, The Grandmaster about Ip Man, the Wing Chun master who trained Bruce Lee. This go around, with Haofeng having full control of all aspect of the film, including editing, The Final Master is visually, one of the best martial arts movies out of Hong Kong in the last five years.

Haofeng’s use of light, smoke and long moments of silence to create an amazing balance between the martial aspect and the art of cinema through its combat scenes. What makes it even more entertaining is the subtle humor used with Chen is courting his wife Zhao Guohui (Jia Song) who teases that the life she dreamed up was marrying a Brazilian in hopes of becoming a cocoa farmer, a nod to the influence that Brazil has had on the world of martial arts within the past 25 years.

Zhao is not a passive character, but a strong woman that can verbally out spar her husband, showing that even in the far east, women play a far more important role than the damsel in need of rescuing like in most western films of this nature.

Although, the fight scenes are often random without provocation, the choreography is beyond phenomenal as the first knife fight scene is a constant teasing of Chen restraining himself from beheading his challenger, Geng Liang Chen  (Yang Song) who becomes his disciple.

There is no humility in Chen’s desires to be the best, in fact it is his hubris that makes this character attractive in his desires to be the greatest martial arts practitioner in Tianjin…even if his morals are often questionable.

The Final Master takes awhile to develop its characters but with how visually stunning the film is, it is time well spent. The display of Wing Chun as one of the most famous martial arts throughout all of China. the dialogue that develops the story unfold as the fight scenes take place giving this film its charm.

Heroes and villains are not who they seem and as the film unveils who the true masters really are, with several “ah ha” moments, that will delight its audiences.

  • Movie Score
3.8

The Verdict

The Final Master takes awhile to develop its characters but with how visually stunning the film is, it is time well spent. The display of Wing Chun as one of the most famous martial arts throughout all of China. the dialogue that develops the story unfold as the fight scenes take place giving this film its charm.

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