“The Grandmaster” Gala Premiere
10 years in the making, and finally Wong Kar Wai’s epic kung fu biopic about the legendary Ip Man has been released.
“The Grandmaster” stars none other than… my favorite Chinese actor Tony Leung!
I must admit that I have a crush on Tony – he is an intensely soulful actor with a quiet strength about him, possessing an inexplicable charm in his gaze that makes me melt. He is not young or the best looking celebrity, but like rich wine he seems to get better with age
I’m also a huge fan of Wong Kar Wai. His previous works like “Chungking Express“, “Happy Together” and “In the Mood For Love” all rank in my list of all favorite films. Imagine how thrilled I was to know that both of them would be in town to promote the movie. And I’d get to see them at the gala premiere!
Poor Tony broke his arm while filming. He and the other actors painstakingly trained in martial arts for 4 years, and Wong Kar Wai commended him on his kung fu skills – ”He can really fight!”
Now if only I could also get paid to learn kung fu from the best trainers for free… that’d be really cool
Wong Kar Wai is never seen in public without his one pair of sunnies.
I suppose it adds to his “mysterious genius” persona – the maverick arthouse director who often doesn’t even let his actors know who their character is (according to Tony, he was glad that this time around he could fully grasp his role!)
The auteur is known for his perfectionist streak and prepared a long time for this film. “During the pre-production stage, I travelled to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau to interview martial arts experts as part of my research. These experts gave me plenty of support and trust. They shared their secrets and techniques unconditionally with me. Their hope was simply that this movie would bring Chinese martial arts to new heights and audiences so I couldn’t possibly let them down, especially since some of them had passed on.”
With celebrity chef Daniel Boulud at his bistro for pre-event cocktails.
On a side note. I chatted to him for a bit, and he excitedly shared about his small role in an upcoming Michelle Yeoh movie. I also found out what his criteria for judging talent in a chef is — how a chef beats an egg and makes an omelette. I guess if you can’t get the small things right, you won’t get the big things right? Apparently there is a lot of skill involved that would elevate this simple culinary act to an art form of sorts.
Sigh okay, let me try flipping that egg again….
We proceeded to the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre; the long and winding path trawling with camera-hogging people eager for a glimpse of the stars.
YSL clutch, my current bag love
Hot shot director and hot shot actor strike a pose on the red carpet.
A pity other cast members Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, and Song Hye Kyo could not make it down.
Originally meant to stage performances, musicals etc., the last time I came to this vast venue seating 2000 people was for a David Foster concert. Now, Marina Bay Sands has made it suitable for film screenings as well. Looking forward to more gala premieres there
So what are my thoughts on “The Grandmaster”?
The film spans several decades of Chinese history to tell the story of legendary Ip Man, who famously trained Bruce Lee, and features lengthy battles between rival kung fu masters of other martial arts schools such as baji quan and Chinese boxing. The film is beautiful and brilliant, another masterpiece from the acclaimed director. He delves into his pet themes of love, loss, longing and time in his signature lush, melancholic style. Every scene, every set-up was a labor of love, a perfected work of art balancing delicacy with ferocity, admirably realized in part by the wonderful cinematography of Philippe Le Sourd.
Wong’s penchant for close-ups makes even a lingering shot of a burning cigarette tip feel like a transcension into another universe. It is testament to why the director is notorious for taking forever to complete his films. Epic fights and action sequences (many taking place in the rain or snow) choreographed by Yuan Woo Ping, of Matrix and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fame, will leave you breathless. But, not just exchange of blows but also an exchange of poignant words, I enjoyed the lyrical script with its depth of poetic and philosophical lines. Definitely a much more refined and unique re-telling of the Ip Man story (than the Donnie Yen series).
Wong Kar Wai is truly a grandmaster himself.
Chang Chen as “The Razor” and Zhang Ziyi as “Gong Er”
Gong Er is a headstrong martial artist who can hold her own against any man. Love her character, she is one cool woman! She and Ip Man share an unspoken affection and suppressed yearning for each other – the bittersweet, enchanting type of romantic liaison not unlike that of Wong’s other film “In the Mood For Love”.
Watch the trailer:
The Grandmaster opens in Singapore cinemas on Jan 31.