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Frankfurt-Tipp Jahresgewinnspiel
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The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster

Hongkong/China/Frankreich 2012 - mit Tony Leung, Zhang Zi-Yi, Chang Chen, Song Hye-Kyo ...

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Originaltitel:Yi dai zong shi
Regie:Wong Kar-Wai
Produktionsland:Hongkong/China/Frankreich 2012
Laufzeit:Ca. 123 min.
FSK:From 12 years
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South China in 1936: Kungfu Grandmaster Gong Bao-Sen (Wang Quing-Xiang) has decided to resign as leading representative of the fighting schools of North China. As tradition dictates, Gong now has to face one last fight against the best fighter of South China. When IP Man (Tony Leung) beats him with his Wing Chun technique, Gong's daughter Gong Er (Zhang Zi-Yi) feels that her father's honour has been violated. She challenges IP Man to a duel with which she wants to restore family honor. During the fight between the two there is not only great respect, but also intense affection. But before more can come of it, the paths of the two are separated by the outbreak of war with Japan. While IP Man loses all his belongings through the invasion of the Japanese and he suddenly has to fight for his existence without means, Gong He ponders revenge after the murder of her father by his former master student. It wasn't until 1952 that the paths of IP Man and Gong Er cross again, after many hard years that left their mark on both…

Director Wong Kar-Wai ("In the Mood for Love", "My Blueberry Nights") has made a name for himself worldwide as the exceptional director of Hong Kong cinema through his artistic staging style. Although his very special handwriting is often a bit too bulky for a broad mainstream audience, especially since he prefers the pictures to let his actors talk, he is not afraid of the fact that his work is not a work of art. But spectators who were once captured by Wong Kar-Wai's picture rush can hardly escape his fascination again. Also his tenth feature film "The Grandmaster", in which the filmmaker invested six years of preparation and three years of production, is first and foremost a feast for the eyes again. The fighting sequences, for which the renowned action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping ("Tiger & Dragon", "Matrix") is responsible, are simply spectacular and will not only enchant martial arts fans.

The true story of IP Man, the later Kungfu teacher of the legendary Bruce Lee, and Gong He is also very interesting from a historical and emotional point of view. And  Wong Kar-Wai's effort to appreciate the various martial arts techniques of his country also lends the film a certain charm. Unfortunately, the dramaturgical realization is altogether much too brittle and measured by the abundance of set pieces too superficial to be able to inspire in a similar way as the visual style of the movie. The dialogues are sometimes involuntarily funny ("The pasta pockets are cooked, but you are not allowed to eat"), which can only be blamed to a certain degree for the synchronisation. Finally, the characters are surprisingly lifeless in the scenes in which they aren't allowed to fight, which is why the more dramatic moments also lack emotional impact. Due to all these factors, the film rarely manages to really get carried away despite its strong visual language.

"The Grandmaster" is Wong Kar-Wais most commercial and also most successful film to date. This is certainly not only due to the visual size of the work. Nevertheless, this lesson leaves a very ambivalent overall impression in Chinese martial arts, as there is only little emotional depth behind the beautiful shell, in which only connoisseurs and great admirers of the director will recognize a lot of magic and beauty. For everyone else, however, the movie doesn't offer much more than two hours of cultivated boredom with a high show value. This is not enough for an unconditional "worth seeing". But: if you want to see the film, you shouldn't wait for the home cinema version despite its weaknesses, because the pictures captured by cameraman Philippe Le Sourd simply belong to the big screen!

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