Saturday, September 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Grandmaster - Sat., Sep., 28

Mike and I chose to go see "The Grandmaster," a movie about the history of kung fu.  Past martial arts movies I have enjoyed are "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Jackie Chan movies, and "The Karate Kid." But this movie puts then all to shame.

Suffice it to say, I fell in love with this movie about China in the era from 1929 to 1954. The story starts out with a history of Chinese kung fu in-fighting. The North didn't like the South and vice versa. Each area took pride in their forms of kung fu and challenges were held to decide a Grandmaster. The movie is based on legendary kung fu master Ip Man. Ip Man trained Bruce Lee in the martial art of kung fu.

The opening fight sequence was spectacular and moody. It took place in heavy rain and the photography was spot on, following foot placement, hand forms and raindrops flowing off capes, hats and shoes.

Other fight sequences were clever and well thought out. For me, it was fascinating to watch all the precision and subtleties of kung fu. I also learned quite a bit about the sport and the philosophy of martial arts from this movie.

One drawback to the movie was the subtitles. Usually I don't mind them, but the photography and nuances of expression and fight sequences demanded that I watch them. It was hard to keep up with the subtitles because I wanted to watch the action.

In about 1934-1936, the Japanese invaded China causing much strife, turmoil, starvation and death in the Chinese population. We follow two families: one from the North and one from the South, two of whom end up in Hong Kong. We learn about family, honor and relationships.

I realize this movie may not be everyone's cup of tea. I wasn't sure it would be mine, but I truly enjoyed it. Five out of five stars. [Be sure to stay past the first final credits as there is more movie, but once that extra part is done, there's nothing left but credits.]

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