Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

'Grandmaster' Wong Kar-Wai Mourns 35 MM, Honors Fading Martial Arts (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 7, 2014 at 12:59PM

Hong Kong filmmaker Wong kar-wai ("In the Mood for Love") is an engaging and articulate man. He's happy that after two years of research travel around Asia meeting the grandmasters of martial arts, his film "The Grandmaster" is not only his second to be submitted by Hong Kong for the best foreign Oscar, but made the shortlist of nine.
0
Wong Kar-Wai
Wong Kar-Wai

Hong Kong filmmaker Wong kar-wai ("In the Mood for Love"), 57, is an engaging and articulate man. He's happy that after two years of research travel around Asia meeting the grandmasters of martial arts, his film "The Grandmaster" is not only his second film to be submitted by Hong Kong for the best foreign Oscar, but made the shortlist of nine. The final five will be picked by committee this weekend and announced on January 16. (Metacritic reviews here.)

Tony Leung is 'The Grandmaster.'
Tony Leung is 'The Grandmaster.'

Of the foreign shortlist, Wong's "The Grandmaster" is by far the most-seen in the U.S. ($6.6 million) and around the world, and marks his most successful box office hit to date ($58 million worldwide). 

Wong does not set out to please audiences. He's a dazzling visual artist through and through. But in this case he did seek to share his passion for this "fading tradition," especially with young people, without resorting to the usual cinematic tricks of the martial arts genre. "I'm happy it has been well-received everywhere," he says in our video interview below. 

"The Grandmaster"
"The Grandmaster"

In this ravishing period piece set in China from the 1930s through the early 1950s, Tony Leung and Zhang Yiyi costar as two fighting rivals who cannot consummate their attraction. Leung is the titular grandmaster Ip Man, who would go on to train Bruce Lee. The breathtaking fight sequences --many of them shot in pouring rain and slow-motion in 35 mm by Philippe Le Sourd without much help from CGI effects-- combine with stunning production design, costumes and editing by longtime Wong collaborator William Chang and a melodramatic score by Nathaniel Méchaly and Shigeru Umebayashi. 

Neither Wong nor Leung had any martial arts training before this film --Zhang is a rare Chinese actress who can both act and fight. Wong wanted to film as much of the action live as possible, without resorting to blue or green screens. A period train was one concession to VFX. "I'm an analog guy," Wong says.

Wong is mourning the loss of 35 mm filming in China. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, Wong and Le Sourd watched "The Grandmaster" in glorious 35 mm as it was intended at the New Beverly Theater in Los Angeles Sunday night. The colors are unbelievably rich and saturated, even on a DVD screener. "I had a real tragic feeling," says Wong, who has held onto the last can of Fuji stock sent to him as a souvenir. 

Wong stands by all versions of the Megan Ellison-financed film, from the original China release at two hours 20 minutes (which was submitted to the Oscars) to the current western cut that contractually had to be under two hours. In fact Wong was able to add extended historic captions that enabled him to sneak in more material that he had been sorry to lose. "Both are true to my vision, I am responsible and proud," he says, still grateful to "hardworking" Harvey Weinstein for being the first to release one of his films, "Chungking Express," back in 1994. "He cares about film. He understands the Chinese martial art film."

This article is related to: The Grandmaster, Wong Kar Wai, Wong Kar-Wai, Wong Kar-wai, Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Best Foreign-Language Film, Foreign, Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Co., Weinstein Co., The Weinstein Company, The Weinsten Co., Oscars, Academy Awards, Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Awards, Video, Video, Interviews, Interviews, Interviews, Interviews


E-Mail Updates