Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Grandmaster (2013): Review

Today I went and saw The Grandmaster with my family and it basically what I expected it to be.  It met my expectations with cinematography and martial arts sequences but was hard to follow due to the disjointed plot lines and subtitles.
This movie although very artistic and beautiful is really only for people who were interested to see it in the first place and those who like this Chinese, marital arts type movies because that is what it is and the niche it was made for. It is also important to know that it is subtitled through out and for me, at times, the subtitles were not left on the screen long enough to read through, especially at times when they also put on the screen who the new person was.
The movie is set to be the story of Bruce Lee's martial arts master but this movie does not have anything to do with Bruce Lee or the development of the master learning Kung Fu.  I think that putting the focus of the advertising on it being Bruce Lee's master doesn't really add anything to the movie. This story is about Ip Man a master in Wing Chung who lived in Foshan, a southern place in China, he is put in different situations where he spars and has battles with different people.  The most specifically being the daughter of Northern master, Gong Er who uses the style of the 64 hands.  Due to the war Ip Man goes to Hong Kong and becomes a teaching master but reconnects with Gong Er. The movie then flashes back to Gong Er fighting for the honor of her family after the death of her father. The movie ends with Ip Man being a master and how he was able to bring Kung Fu main stream, especially because he had a student named Bruce Lee.
Basically the story is hard to follow, jumps around, and expects you to kinda know who all the characters are, and to recognize who they are when they are reintroduced later on in the film.  My recommendation, if you see this film, is to just forget about the plot and keeping track of what is going on and just enjoy the visual journey it takes you on.
This movie is very well shot and extremely beautiful to look at.  The cinematography and use of contrasting colors, shadows, reflections, and movements is fantastic to watch.  The martial arts dances, and I call them dances because how the choreography comes together is in harmony and the individuals weave back and forth together with the music in harmony. The first scene is especially spectacular with the use of the rain and angles.  The music is used to great effect as it is really what sets the mood and offers the most understanding to what is going on at each time.  This movie is extremely artistic and pretty.  That being said, it does the thing that I don't like with close up action shots and when it comes to the beautiful sequences I think a lot is lost in not showing it from a perspective where you can see what is going on.  I don't mind the focus on certain body parts, specifically the hands and feet, as it showed that the characters where thoughtful and controlling of their whole bodies while fighting. 
I found it interesting that this movie focused on the small scope and it seemed that all of the fight sequences where in controlled spaces, such as a court yard, inside a house, or at a train station platform.
Like I said this movie was beautiful to watch, confusing to follow, and basically for the people who like the artistic marital arts movies.  Others will find it too confusing and not be kept interested with the beautiful cinematography or martial arts sequences.

My Rating 2+

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