Just yesterday, we were discussing the casting of MMA fighter Cung Le in Wong Kar-wai's Yip Man biopic and ruing the delayed production -- which will reportedly last over 12 months and finish up in 2011 at the earliest -- and the lack of promotional material, which was actually seen bandied around at a paparazzi-caught meeting between Wong and actress Song Hyo-kye.
It's taken a whole 24 hours since our little sulk but the first official photos from the project have now been unveiled courtesy of international sales group Wild Bunch who are hawking the film at the upcoming American Film Market. The images provide an early glimpse at Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhang Ziyi, who'll respectively play the titular Yip Man and an unnamed character with both receiving top billing, though that may simply be because they're the two biggest names involved with the project, especially to American buyers.
Very much in the vein of Wong's rich and stylistic period look seen in previous films, the images also tease the collaboration with action director and choreographer, Yuen Woo-ping, whose work has been seen in such films as "The Matrix,” “Kill Bill,” “Kung Fu Hustle” and “Fearless," and should make for an interesting contrast to the atmospheric and moody tones of Wong's work.
Another interesting note from the posters is the fact it's being sold as "The Grand Masters" rather than the singular 'Grand Master' as first announced. Coupled with the retrospective casting of iconic martial arts actor Bruce Leung as a "Wing Chun master," could this hint at a broadening of the story to center on the many Wing Chun founders instead of just the Yip Man? Suffice to say, it wouldn't be out of character for Wong to develop plot and add characters on-the-go.
As we mentioned, shooting has been taking place on the project since last December with a cast consisting of Song Hye-kyo, who plays the Yip Man's wife, Zhao Benshan, Julian Cheun Chi-lam and Chang Chenand is scheduled to shoot at least for "a week or two" after Christmas -- making it a tight squeeze if Wong is to make it in time for Cannes. The helmer has been a mainstay in recent times with films like "My Blueberry Nights," "2046," "In The Mood For Love," and "Happy Together" all premiering at the Croisette. Wong also presided over the festival's jury in 2006, becoming the first Chinese director to fill the position -- hopefully his relationship with the festival can be motivation for him to get to the finish line soon on "The Grand Masters." [Chongweikk]