Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Aug 22, 2013
    100
    The Grandmaster is, at its most persuasive, about the triumph of style. When Ip Man slyly asks “What’s your style?” it’s clear that Mr. Wong is asking the same question because here, as in his other films, style isn’t reducible to ravishing surfaces; it’s an expression of meaning.
  2. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Aug 26, 2013
    90
    In short, I'd be the happiest person in the world if Wong announced there was a four-hour cut of this film somewhere. For now, neither version is perfect, but they’re both so beautiful, so heartbreaking, that the question may be moot. Whatever its flaws, seeing The Grandmaster theatrically, in any version, should be a sacrament for any true film lover — a spiritual duty.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Aug 22, 2013
    90
    An exercise in pure cinematic style filled with the most ravishing images, The Grandmaster finds director Wong Kar-wai applying his impeccable visual style to the mass-market martial arts genre with potent results.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Aug 22, 2013
    90
    The Grandmaster, may well be the definitive illustration of kung fu in all its arcane schools and intricate styles. There's never been anything like it — a seemingly endless flow of spectacular images in a story about Ip Man (Tony Leung), the legendary kung-fu master who trained Bruce Lee.
  5. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 29, 2013
    88
    The Grandmaster sets aside traditional story structure in its last 15 minutes and becomes one of the filmmaker’s free-form visual poems, suffused with melancholy and compassion.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Feb 10, 2013
    83
    Intermittently action-packed and lethargic, the movie dances around formula. By delivering an expressionistic character study with bursts of intensity unlike anything else in his oeuvre and yet stylistically representative of its entirety, Wong practically has it both ways.
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 75 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 27
  2. Negative: 7 out of 27
  1. Aug 23, 2013
    9
    Unlike martial arts film in the wuxia style, such as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," that are typically set in a fantasy pre-modern era, "The Grandmaster" is set against the specific backdrop of the political upheaval in China from the 1930s to the 1950s, including the Japanese invasion and civil war. And though Wong said he does not know what his next film will be, he feels satisfied the years of work have come to fruition with "The Grandmaster." "I know I'm not going to make many kung fu films," Wong said. "This may be the only kung fu film I make, I don't know. I want to put everything I know about kung fu films into this film." Wong Kar Wai is known as an international master of moody romance, making films filled with a yearning melancholy. His "In the Mood for Love" was the only film from this century to make the Top 25 of a recent Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films of all time. So news that he was making a kung fu film tracing the life of Ip Man, who would famously go on to train Bruce Lee, caught many of his fans off-guard. Playing now in Los Angeles, the long-awaited film has already been the biggest commercial hit of Wong's career in China, even with its unlikely combination of a rousing martial arts story and a moving tale of romantic longing. Full Review »
  2. Oct 4, 2013
    2
    The movie was disjointed and confusing. To top it off there were way too many slow scenes with bittersweet music that put me to sleep... The first half of the movie is decent, but then it becomes a big yawn fest. Full Review »
  3. Sep 28, 2013
    3
    Rains drops shine like diamonds. A choreographed battle becomes a dance of graceful, powerful movement. The violence becomes beautiful. With this incredible fight scene director Kar Wai Wong opens The Grandmaster.

    Then Wong replicates the same techniques over and over again, ad nauseam, expecting fancy camera angles and beautiful set designs to carry an entire 90-minute feature. The result, a film where absolutely nothing happens.

    Phillipe le Sourd’s cinematography here resembles that of Christopher Doyle’s in Hero (2002). That is to say, it’s amazing, but just in case we didn’t recognize its amazingness in the first scene, the second scene, or even the tenth, scene Director Wong insists we better recognize. Wong pummels the viewer with le Sourd’s blazing techniques. Identical shot after identical shot render le Sourd’s imagery utterly meaningless.

    This film stars the great of Zizi Zhang of Crouching Tiger (2000) and Hero fame. Here she plays a supporting character, and, oh yeah, is totally wasted as an actress. The disorganized mess of direction spends more time showing slow motion side angles of her pretty face than probably any other single device in the film. Zhang’s combat is graceful as always, but this gets boring fast as there is no discernable purpose to all her fighting.

    The main character Ip Man flees whatever Chinese town he’s from as the crisis of a Japanese invasion occurs, but we don’t even care. Eventually Zhang’s character and Ip Man magically meet up in Hong Kong, but by this point, thanks to the miasmic mess that has spewed fourth since the beginning of the film, the only think we do care about as viewers is the amount of time left until the credits roll.
    Full Review »