User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 78 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 57 out of 78
  2. Negative: 11 out of 78

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  1. 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
    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.
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  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.
  3. Sep 3, 2013
    4
    I was expecting a lot more with, both, the critic and user reviews, but people are obviously still drawing some smokey parallels between the artistry, of both film and story, of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to "movies" like "The Grandmaster". Let's just say that "The Grandmaster" is stuffed full of slow motion kung fu choreography and long glances between Ip Man and Lady Gong, but it'sI was expecting a lot more with, both, the critic and user reviews, but people are obviously still drawing some smokey parallels between the artistry, of both film and story, of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to "movies" like "The Grandmaster". Let's just say that "The Grandmaster" is stuffed full of slow motion kung fu choreography and long glances between Ip Man and Lady Gong, but it's less of a film than empty kung fu porn interspersed with a vignette of family revenge. Ip Man isn't really a character in this movie, but an avatar to join the kung fu porn from scene to scene. Then he disappears for nearly half of the movie so Lady Gong can do her thing. So, calling this movie "The Grandmaster" is problematic, because the only coherent story in this film isn't really about Ip Man, or even the Old Grand Master, but his daughter rescuing the honor of her family from the punk who her father, the old Grand Master, gave his fighting legacy to. Ip Man's story in the movie is so lightweight, that it feels secondary, if even a story at all. In the end, you leave wondering what the point of the movie was at all. Now, movies don't always have to have some super precise and epic story, but we are supposed to care about the path that Ip Man took to Grandmaster, at least that's what I thought was the point, and the writers spent barely any part of the movie telling that story in anywhere near an effective manner. Ip Man was underdeveloped. The love story was underdeveloped. The history was not woven into the story effectively. I love artistically executed films, but Wong Kar Wai has become a master of style over substance. This movie tries to do 2 things that could have their own story, one of Ip Man's path to Hong Kong, and the other of Lady Gong's quest to recover her father's legacy. It only tells one of these stories decently (Gong's) and the other it completely fails. So, we basically have a 2 hour movie with about 30 minutes that really grabs you. This is not a good movie. Don't let the decent score fool you. Everyone who I went to see the movie with agreed... If you want to see a movie about Ip Man, see "Ip Man". If you want to see a beautiful kung fu movie, see "Crouching Tiger". "The Grandmaster" is chaff. Expand
  4. Aug 31, 2013
    1
    stupid ass movie that doesnt really deliver any story. if you took out the long glazing film school shots and just watched the boring fight scenes you' d probably be done in 30 min. who the is "the razor". this guy gets some screen that time doesnt mesh into the main story. GOng er doesnt even get a rematch with IP man who's got to be most boring protagonist I've ever watched. There's astupid ass movie that doesnt really deliver any story. if you took out the long glazing film school shots and just watched the boring fight scenes you' d probably be done in 30 min. who the is "the razor". this guy gets some screen that time doesnt mesh into the main story. GOng er doesnt even get a rematch with IP man who's got to be most boring protagonist I've ever watched. There's a reason Bruce Lee made the kinds of films that he did, this romanticized crap is something he was against. Expand
  5. Sep 15, 2013
    2
    Reasons why 'The Grandmaster' failed to me ~

    * Don't expect to watch an Ip Man movie. The movie tells a story about several grandmasters and Ip Man is in the middle. It seems the main premise was about the Gong Er and the teaching of the '46 hands'. The story bounces between Ip Man, Gong Er, Ma Sin, and etc. It was all over the place. Ergo, I never gotten the chance to relate to
    Reasons why 'The Grandmaster' failed to me ~

    * Don't expect to watch an Ip Man movie.
    The movie tells a story about several grandmasters and Ip Man is in the middle. It seems the main premise was about the Gong Er and the teaching of the '46 hands'. The story bounces between Ip Man, Gong Er, Ma Sin, and etc. It was all over the place. Ergo, I never gotten the chance to relate to the characters. I wish the film focused on one character.

    * Pull the camera back, please.
    Granted the film was at times had inspiring cinematography, but it feels congested with back to back close ups or half-body shots with unnecessary or misplaced change of shutter speed to normal frame rate film editing. There was scene where Ma Sin and the Grandmaster was talking to each other. I never caught on until 45+ seconds of dialogue. Why? There was no establishing shot where you know there are two people in the room. But the funniest of them all is the freaking close ups of feet and icicles!

    * Don't expect to watch a Kung-Fu movie.
    A top with close-ups. I like to watch a martial arts film where I can see both fighters duking it (and subtract the change shutter speed frame rate too). The fight scenes were really short. It seems the director don't trust the actors remembering fight choreography. The longest fight scene was Gong Er vs. Ma Sin which was the climax of the film (again, not a Ip Man movie). My experience of the film, it is more artsy than Kung-Fu.

    * It needs a bit of editing love.
    I do like artsy films. I do like the film's cinematography and scene lighting, but the fight scenes was cuts were too fast while dramatic scenes were too long. In some dramatic scenes, there people turning their heads as if it was the opening scene of Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal' music video. Heck, one point they reused the same head turn of an old guy wearing a hat with a yellow-green-ish lighting. It was unnecessary fillers throughout the film. There was a scene were Gong Er take a puff of opium and then she lays down on her bed. Within that scene, there were about four shots in her bed that were very similar and it lasted about 60 to 120 seconds.

    Overall...
    I walked out the theater without any redeeming feelings to say 'The Grandmaster' is good or bad or good-bad film. It was just awful. If I was exposed to the director, Kar Wai Wong, other films, I may have a different view. If I knew his other works. I would expect “The Grandmaster' an artsy film. With the exposure of Ip Man and 'a film of the martial arts teacher of Bruce Lee' being the main tag-line of the description and trailers, I expected a Kung-Fu film. Biggest film trolled ever!
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  6. Dec 2, 2013
    1
    I just don't like this movie, the word that I would use to describe it is: Ridiculous.
    I can't place this movie anywhere, I don't know if it was supposed to be like it is, or if it is a failed attempt at something else, I didn't like it from start to end, it lacks everything, nothing really to be salvaged, even the action sequences looked... let's say, not good.
    I saw it when it came
    I just don't like this movie, the word that I would use to describe it is: Ridiculous.
    I can't place this movie anywhere, I don't know if it was supposed to be like it is, or if it is a failed attempt at something else, I didn't like it from start to end, it lacks everything, nothing really to be salvaged, even the action sequences looked... let's say, not good.

    I saw it when it came out so I don't remember how good it was in each category, but the movie genre says it is an:

    Action
    Like I said, didn't saw anything special about the action sequences, looked like implausible martial arts choreography.

    Biography
    Seriously? This is at least an insult to the viewer intelligence, claiming this to be even remotely biographical is criminal.

    Drama
    Pure boredom between bad martial arts action sequences.

    I can't see a reason to watch this movie, I can't see myself in any type of mood that would had allow me to enjoy this bad piece of cinema.
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  7. Apr 7, 2014
    3
    The fight scenes are good, as well as the directing in these particular scenes. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. The acting by the main cast is good enough.

    However, the directing in the rest of the scenes is a little annoying. Kar Wai Wong did the same thing in another movie i saw by him: My Blueberry Nights. Never understood it really. The story is a complete mess. I don't know who's
    The fight scenes are good, as well as the directing in these particular scenes. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. The acting by the main cast is good enough.

    However, the directing in the rest of the scenes is a little annoying. Kar Wai Wong did the same thing in another movie i saw by him: My Blueberry Nights. Never understood it really.

    The story is a complete mess. I don't know who's story this is. It's also too slow-paced, stretched over 2 hours. So i was extremely bored. And i had a very hard time understanding what was happening. The movie is in Chinese; and since they talk really fast, the English subtitles disappear very quickly.

    So aside from the action sequences, and maybe the last few somewhat emotional scenes, where the two leads meet one last time, i didn't enjoy this film at all.
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  8. Jan 12, 2014
    2
    Extremely dissappointed. The movie is a beautiful shell filled with empty meaning.
    Ip Man dissapears from the movie and the spectator misses the goal of the film. A nice naive good-looking film with a completely disaster structure.
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Jan 9, 2015
    80
    Flawed but often flooring, The Grandmaster swoons with grace, feeling and elegance. With Leung and Zhang on killer form, Wong has delivered his best film in a decade.
  2. Reviewed by: Craig Williams
    Dec 2, 2014
    80
    It's a film that prompts an overwhelming emotional response as it weaves its dark magic.
  3. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Dec 1, 2014
    80
    It may not be much more than six of the most imaginatively staged and filmed fight scenes in the cinema, but that’s almost certainly enough to recommend it.