Divided by the Yangtze River, China’s practice of martial arts is defined by its two regions: the north and the south.
From the North, Master Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang), descends upon the South seeking a worthy opponent to challenge laying on the line his undefeated streak as well as the next heir in the world of martial arts.
His daughter, Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), would be the perfect successor, if not for the fact that she was born a woman. Her gender holds her back despite the years of training with her father.
From the beginning moment, Tony Leung, portraying Ip Man, shows the humility of a man to preserve the arts, teachings and practices, not only for China but for the world..
It's strengths is also its weakness in which the real world events interject the story of martial artists having to deal with real life of a modernizing China, the takeover from Japan and gender limitations.
Many fighters, and their style of fighting, desire the title of grandmaster, but it can not be self-professed but earned through their opponents. Mr. Leung shows this as he takes on all challengers before his ultimate showdown with Master Gong Yutian. He also lives by the tenets: being, doing and knowing.
Accompanying her father is Gong Er, and there their meeting and challenge of one another, showcases a sequence that is amazement in technicality and passion between adversaries who become friends. The fact that their encounter is an elaborate brothel is as sensual of a relationship that carries with them throughout their lives.
They reunite in Hong Kong living different lives from their past. Ip Man having to leave his family in order to support them is one of the storyline being told. The other plot that carries the film is the sworn retribution from Gong Er against her adopted brother, Ma San (Zhang Jin).
Ms. Zhang’s character is more dramatic than the cool,demeanor of Mr. Lueng’s character. She swears vengeance, but beneath her fighter mentality she realizes her limitation and that leads to her downfall.
Being the last along the line of her family, it's her responsbility to reclaim not only the family name but her father's honor in an moment caught in essence between the two during a showdown at the train station.
If not for the events that China was going through, the story would end up different for both leading characters of Ip Man and Gong Er. But they make do with tragedies and circumstances they face as they remember that they were once the great masters of their craft in a changing country.
Ip Man proves to be the right individual to obtain the mantle of a man that would not only unite the different practices of martial arts but leads to its development not only across China but the world.
Classification: Redbox Blu-Ray Release
Movie Grade: 4 out of 5 stars
The fight choreographs, whether it be grand or albeit brief, executed by Yuen Woo Ping add to his legacy of work. Director Wong Kar Wai puts his own interpretation into the genre of martial arts interjecting the world of martial arts with China’s history.
Blu-Ray Grade: 5 out of 5 stars:
- “The Grandmaster: From Ip Man to Bruce Lee”
- “A Conversation with Shannon Lee”
- “The Grandmaster Behind the Scenes”
- “The Grandmaster according to RZA”
The rental goes behind the scenes of the director’s quests to understand and respect all forms of martial arts while treating the subjects of his film with utmost respect as the actors portraying them dedicate their time and bodies to their work.
Rating: PG-13 for violence, some smoking, brief drug use and language
Timing: 2 Hours, 10 Minutes
Genre: Action, Drama, Historical
- Director, Story, Screenplay: Wong Kar Wai
- Screenplay: Zou Jingzhi & Xu Haofeng.