The Grandmaster

Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Sep 2, 2013
    40
    The movie ultimately winds up falling between two stools, failing as both a biography and an action film. Martial arts fans will naturally be drawn to the story, but the film does nothing to open up the world to outsiders.
  2. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Aug 21, 2013
    58
    Tony Leung plays Ip Man with his old-movie charisma and reserve, but the film, despite a few splendid fights, is a biohistorical muddle that never finds its center. Maybe that's because — big mistake! — it never gets to Bruce Lee.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 30, 2013
    40
    The end result feels like only half a movie. That half -- the technical half, with Wong's stylistic flourishes and the film's lush technical elements -- is a heck of a film. The rest of The Grandmaster, however -- the storytelling -- is anything but grand.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Aug 23, 2013
    60
    Wong’s visual grandeur is, as ever, all-encompassing.
  5. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Aug 29, 2013
    50
    The film is beautiful but troubled, achieving in stretches the director's signature dreamy mood but dragged down by narrative confusions.
  6. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Aug 22, 2013
    60
    Wong’s usual concerns overwhelm the film, and though his pairing of fisticuffs and longing is sometimes awkward, he surrounds the awkwardness with some of the most beautiful images in his career. In Wong’s world, beauty goes a long way.
  7. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Aug 20, 2013
    60
    The Grandmaster, five years in the making, feels like a waste of Wong’s talents.
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 82 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,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... TheThe 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. WithRains 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 »