Growing up, the name most associated with martial arts in the west was Bruce Lee. No one was ever considered greater than Lee, his five legendary films are beyond compare, his one-inch punch is stuff of legends, but the question remained, “If Bruce Lee was the greatest, who taught him how to be the best?” That answer has been answered with five different films in 2013 alone. The answer was none other than his teacher, his shifu (師傅 in Mandarin), Ip Man.
In this adaptation of the Southern Chinese Wing Chun legend, the challenge is set for all the grandmmasters of China to test their skills against one another to find out who has the greatest Kung Fu. The rivalries between the north and south are settled as Ip Man is victorious in his endeavors. The film follows his life from his early 20s to his arrival in Hong Kong, surviving street gangs, a world war and never seeing his wife again as immigration closed the boarders from the southern region of the country to the English run province.
The Grandmaster is more fantasy than docudrama. The Legend of Master Ip is preserved but is shown in the style of films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Iron Monkey. A tad slow at times, but Kar Wai Wong’s cinematography paints a picture as masterful as any of his Hong Kong counterparts. Tony Leung embodies Master Ip while Ziyi Zhang poetry in motion.
The Grandmaster is worth your time, especially if you love a great, exaggerated story. Think of it as a tall tale told by a campfire only with spectacular fight scenes to suck you into the story.
The Grandmaster releases on Blu-Ray and DVD, tomorrow, March 4, 2014