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February 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

On the same day that it opened the Berlin Film Festival, Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster was acquired by The Weinstein Company for distribution in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. The martial arts drama, which, as a four-hour epic, has already collected some $50 million in China (a 130-minute version was shown in Berlin), focuses on Ip Man, Bruce Lee’s mentor, who is portrayed by Tony Leung. The film follows his life beginning in childhood during Imperial China through the days of the Communist revolution and ending in British-ruled Hong Kong. “During all these periods you can see how a martial artist stands up for his principles and his honor in front of all this hardship,” Wong told a news conference before the screening of his film. It received a mixed reception from critics. Andrew Pulver in Britain’s Guardian writes that in place of conventional plotting, Wong “creates a delicate tracery of description, flashback and vignette that require a sizable investment in concentration from the viewer. The rewards, however, are considerable. … The Grandmaster is something pretty special.” But several critics suggest that the film lacks cohesion. Yvonne Teh in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post comments that while some scenes manifest “superlative filmmaking” others appear rushed. “One leaves the cinema feeling there are too many loose ends,” she concludes. Likewise, Edmund Lee in the British trade publication Screen Daily describes the film as “sumptuously visualized yet unevenly narrated” and expresses hope that Wong “will be tempted to return to the editing room for an alternative cut.”