Monday, 8 December 2014

It all comes down to two words: Horizontal, Vertical.

The Grandmaster

Stunningly beautiful if a little hard to follow narratively. It flicks back and forth in time but that is not so much the problem as the desire to explain odd and baffling points of Kung Fu politics. Occasionally it will try to clear up an obscure plot point with some blunt captions but these mostly just repeat the last bit of information given rather than unobfuscating cultural and historical mores.
Thankfully the movie is enjoyable enough that you can delight in the scenery and fine performances whilst still being unsure of the particulars.
The combat is generally expressive, well played and tight. Water and dust feature heavily as they often do in Yeun Woo-ping's choreographic work.
It skips over certain important beats (such as the struggles under Japanese invasion) which mean that Ip Man himself remains a rather undercooked character in his own movie (Tony Leung gets some funny bits of business that suggest he is not all dour stoicness but doesn't really get to react to any of the dramatic stuff that happens to him and his loved ones, a shame for an actor so capable).
Indeed part way through the movie pulls away from Ip Man completely and focuses on Ziyi Zhang's Gong Er, giving her a complete arc and much to play with. A challenge which she rises to wonderfully and makes you question why the film is not about her instead?

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