Here's Michelle's review of The Grandmaster
The Grandmaster is a beautiful addition to the martial arts film world. It somehow balances epic fight scenes with an emotional storyline and expertly weaves both of them together into a gorgeous tapestry. Having seen many Hong Kong martial arts movies, I am not so easily impressed these days, but The Grandmaster managed to wow me with its presentation and attention to detail. It is the biography of The Ip Man who was a Grandmaster of Wing Chun and more famously Bruce Lee’s trainer. The Grandmaster takes some dramatic liberties with his story but for the most part remains historically accurate, much more so than the popular film Ip Man which was also based upon his life.
The fight scenes were choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping, made famous in the United States for his work on The Matrix films. They are exquisitely done and feature some subtle “wire fu” as well. I personally love wire work in kung fu films but I know some people prefer realistic style fighting—the action scenes are a blend of both styles and it never seems over the top. There is no shaky-cam syndrome as these are actual martial artists and there are tons of wide frame shots to let you see all the action.
Many styles of fighting are showcased and Wing Chun is a particularly graceful art to see utilized. There are lots of shots of people practicing their forms and it’s neat to see the expertise on display. The set-pieces are amazing as well with a rainy street and a snow-covered train station being standouts. The dramatic portions of the movie look great as well but are filmed in a more practical manner which makes it seem a little stale after seeing the outstanding action scenes.
I didn’t find the musical score of the film to be particularly memorable, but it does complement everything nicely and uses some choir music for an interesting contrast. If you have seen Ip Man and are looking for a different take on the story, The Grandmaster is an excellent alternative. It might be a little bit slow paced for someone looking for non-stop action, but will most likely still keep their attention throughout.
-Review by Michelle Kisner