A sort of biopic of renowned martial artist Ip Man, Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster finally arrives after a European debut at the Berlin Film Festival way back in February 2013. It’s far from the misunderstood masterpiece many still prayed it might be, but Wong can’t really do duffers; almost every shot is predictably jaw-dropping and metaphor-dripping.
Taking broad liberties with the actual story of Mr Ip (regular collaborator Leung), the director is more concerned with presenting a philosophical and cultural history of China in the first half of last century and back, and of course his own recurring tropes of romance and longing. With a bunch of fancy fighting thrown in.
Leung is brilliant as the taciturn Master, with Zhang Ziyi striking as ever as his unrequited love, and their soulful arc complements the stunning Yuen Woo-ping-choreographed battle scenes. Unfortunately, you’re left wanting more of these successes as the on-the-nose pontification and wuxia cliches pile up, but third-rate Wong is still better than most at the top of their game. [Chris Fyvie]