THE GRANDMASTER directed by Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong /China 2013)


Grandmaster splash

This Kung Fu bio-pic is sumptuous and stylish but also soporific. It has numerous set piece fight sequences that kept me awake but I nodded off several times during the quiet bits.

It apparently took three years to make which you can well believe looking at the lavish detail but it’s a pity that the director didn’t take the trouble to put together a coherent narrative. Plot-wise it’s all over the place.

When I watch movies dubbed into Italian I always miss some elements in the story but here I was all at sea right from the start.

The grandmaster of the title is Ip Man played elegantly by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai whose most famous martial arts student was Bruce Lee. The synopsis tells viewers that it follows events in his life from the 1930s to the end of his life in 1972 but his death is off-screen and, even more confusingly Lee isn’t part of the story at all.

Kung Fu fans will probably love it but for me it was one of those frustrating films where there’s less to it than meets the eye.