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The Grandmaster (Chinese: 一代宗师) is a 2013 martial arts drama film based on the life story of the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man.[2][4] The film was directed and written by Wong Kar-wai and stars Tony Leung as Ip Man. It was released on 8 January 2013 in China. It was the opening film at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2013.[5] The film was selected as part of the 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival.[6] The Weinstein Company acquired the international distribution rights for the film.[7] The film was selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards,[8] making the January shortlist, but ultimately did not receive the nomination.[9] Despite this, the film was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.[10][11] It is the only one of Wong Kar-Wai’s films to be recognized by the Academy Awards.

The Grandmaster
Promotional poster
MandarinYīdài Zōngshī
CantoneseJat1 Doi6 Zung1 Si1
LiterallyAncestral teacher of a generation
Directed byWong Kar-wai
Screenplay byWong Kar-wai
Zou Jingzhi
Xu Haofeng
Story byWong Kar-wai
Based onLife of Ip Man
Produced byNg See-yuen
Megan Ellison
Wong Kar-wai
StarringTony Leung
Zhang Ziyi
Chang Chen
Zhao Benshan
Song Hye-kyo
Wang Qingxiang
CinematographyPhilippe Le Sourd
Edited byWilliam Chang
Music byShigeru Umebayashi
Stefano Lentini
Nathaniel Méchaly
Block 2 Pictures
Jet Tone Films
Sil-Metropole Organisation
Bona International Film Group
Annapurna Pictures
Distributed byLark Films Distribution (Hong Kong)[1]
China Film Group Corporation (China)[1]
Release dates
  • 8 January 2013 (2013-01-08) (China)
  • 10 January 2013 (2013-01-10) (Hong Kong)
Running time
130 minutes
CountriesHong Kong[2]
Budget¥240 million (US$38.6 million)[3]
Box officeUS$64.1 million[1]


Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung) reflects on the nature of martial arts as he battles a dozen combatants during a rainstorm in Foshan. Ip wins and experiences flashbacks of his life, from his early training at the age of seven, to his induction into Wing Chun by his master, Chan Wah-shun (Yuen Woo-Ping), and his marriage to Cheung Wing-sing (Song Hye-Kyo).

Ip Man's peaceful existence is threatened by the arrival of Gong Yutian (Wang Qing Xiang), the Wudangquan martial arts grandmaster from northern China, who announces that he has already retired and appointed Ma San (Zhang Jin) as his heir in the North. He then concedes that the South should have its own heir. A fight erupts as various masters attempt to challenge Gong, but they are deterred by Ma San. As the Southern masters deliberate on a representative, Gong Yutian's daughter Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi) arrives and tries to convince her father not to continue the fight, as she feels the Southern masters are unworthy. Meanwhile, the Southern masters decide on Ip Man to represent them, and Ip proceeds to be tested by three Southern masters before he challenges Gong Yutian.

The "fight" between Ip Man and Gong Yutian turns out to be an exchange of philosophical ideas using a crumbled flat-cake as a metaphor for Chinese unity. Gong proclaims that Ip has shown him the limits of his knowledge and declares Ip the winner. As Gong returns to the North, Gong Er sets out to regain her family's honor by challenging Ip Man. As they agree that "Kung Fu is about precision," whoever breaks a piece of furniture during the fight will be the loser. An intense fight breaks out between Ip Man and Gong Er, which concludes with victory for her after Ip breaks a stairstep while saving her from falling. Ip and Gong Er part on friendly terms, with Ip saying he wants a rematch in the future. They keep in contact by exchanging letters, and Ip intends to bring his family with him to northern China. His plans are soon disrupted by the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937.

During the war, Ip Man and his family descend into poverty and he loses his two daughters to starvation. Meanwhile, in northern China, Ma San betrays China in favor of the puppet government in Manchuria and kills Gong Yutian as a hanjian. When Gong Er returns, Mr. Jiang (Shang Tie Long), the family servant, tells her Gong Yutian's final wish was for her to be happy and not to seek vengeance. Gong Er refuses to accept this, and instead makes a vow to Buddha to never teach, marry, or have children, devoting her life to vengeance against Ma San.

Ip Man moves to Hong Kong in 1950 in the hope of starting a career as a martial arts teacher. He spars with and defeats other martial artists, soundly earning a reputation. The Chinese government closes the border with Hong Kong in 1951 and Ip never sees his wife again. He meets Gong Er again on Chinese New Year's Eve 1950 and asks her for one more contest while implying that she should rebuild her martial art school. Gong Er refuses, stating that many martial arts have disappeared throughout the course of history, and that her family's would not be the only one. A flashback 10 years earlier shows a confrontation between Gong Er and Ma San at a train station on Chinese New Year's Eve 1940, in which Gong Er defeats Ma San using one of her father's special moves that Ma San had failed to learn. Gong Er loses her desire to use martial arts and moves to Hong Kong with Mr. Jiang to open a clinic.

In 1952, Ip Man and Gong Er meet each other for the last time. Gong confesses to Ip that she has harbored romantic feelings for him since their first fight. She dies in 1953, taking her father's secrets of the Baguazhang to the grave. A voice-over from Ip reveals that the fight with Ma San left Gong badly injured, and she turned to opium to help with the pain. Ip Man's Wing Chun school flourishes, and he is able to popularize the once secretive and elitist martial art on a worldwide scale. Ip trains a young boy who grows up to be his most famous student: Bruce Lee.


Main Characters

People around Ip Man

People around Gong Er

Other Characters


The film is well known for its long development time, having been announced in 2008.[12] It was caught in development hell, partly because Tony Leung broke his arm while training in Wing Chun.[13] The film is Wong's most expensive production to date. Wong intended the film to be a major collaboration with mainland China's film industry,[14] noting that the enormous expansion and growth in China's film industry and market over the past decade has provided filmmakers with resources to make features that weren't possible before.[14] Wong stated, "Films don't just belong to the mainland or Hong Kong. They belong to all Chinese and not just to a certain place at a certain time. It's a legacy that belongs to all of us."[15]


The music is composed by Shigeru Umebayashi and Nathaniel Méchaly, with two works by Ennio Morricone and the original Stabat Mater composed by Stefano Lentini. The Stabat Mater is not included in the soundtrack CD and it was published separately by Milan Records as "'Stabat Mater' As Seen in Wong Kar Wai's 'The Grandmaster'". It reached Number 1 in Hong Kong's iTunes Original Score.


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 78% of 138 critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 6.70/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Though its storytelling is a tad muddled, Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster still exhibits the auteur's stylistic flourishes in gorgeous cinematography and explosive action set pieces."[16] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100 based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[17]

Variety gave the film a positive review, stating Wong "exceeds expectations with 'The Grandmaster,' fashioning a 1930s action saga into a refined piece of commercial filmmaking". The review also says, "Boasting one of the most propulsive yet ethereal realizations of authentic martial arts onscreen, as well as a merging of physicality and philosophy not attained in Chinese cinema since King Hu's masterpieces, the hotly anticipated pic is sure to win new converts from the genre camp."[2]

While praising Tony Leung's Ip Man and Zhang Ziyi's Gong Er, calling the latter "more or less complete and coherent", The Hollywood Reporter lamented some of the more underdeveloped characters stating that "the same can't be said of some of the other characters, such as Chang Chen’s Razor, an expert of the Bajiquan school who is supposed to be another of the grandmasters. Song Hye-kyo’s Madam Ip has only a cursory presence and is basically rendered invisible in the film’s second half."[18]

Zhang Ziyi's performance as Gong Er has been praised by critics such as Scott Bowles of USA Today as the film's "discovery",[19] and her character has been mentioned by critics such as Kenji Fujishima of Slant Magazine as the film's "real central figure" in spite of the film's title.[20]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "the film, despite a few splendid fights, is a biohistorical muddle that never finds its center."[21]

The Grandmaster has earned HK$21,156,949 (US$2.7 million) at the Hong Kong box office,[22] and grossed over 312 million yuan (US$50 million) at the mainland Chinese box office, USD$6,594,959 in North America and USD$64,076,736 in worldwide, and thus becoming Wong's highest-grossing film to date.[23][24]


Three versions of the film have been released. The first is the domestic "Chinese Cut" of the film that runs 130 minutes.[4][25] Second is the version of the film that debuted at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival at 123 minutes.[4] The third, released by The Weinstein Company, is a more linear version that includes explanatory text for Americans less familiar with the story[26] and runs at 108 minutes.[27]

Wong wrote in The Huffington Post that he was "never interested in telling a watered down version," but one that was tighter and provided greater historical context:

As a filmmaker, let me say that the luxury of creating a new cut for U.S. audiences was the opportunity to reshape it into something different than what I began with -- a chance one doesn't always get as a director and an undertaking much more meaningful than simply making something shorter or longer. The original version of THE GRANDMASTER is about 2 hours, 10 minutes. Why not 2 hours, 9 minutes or 2 hours, 11 minutes? To me, the structure of a movie is like a clock or a prized watch -- it's about precision and perfect balance.[28]

However, some critics believe the 130-minute version is superior. The Wrap called the film "sweeping, gorgeous, exciting – and butchered."[29] Manohla Dargis at The New York Times wrote, "too bad that the American distributor didn’t have enough faith in the audience to release the original."[30]

Awards and nominations

Organization Award category Recipients and nominees Result
86th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film Shortlisted
Best Cinematography Philippe Le Sourd Nominated
Best Costume Design William Chang Suk Ping Nominated
20th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award Best Film Won
Best Actress Zhang Ziyi Won
50th Golden Horse Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Director Wong Kar-wai Nominated
Best Actor Tony Leung Nominated
Best Actress Zhang Ziyi Won
Best Cinematography Phillipe Le Sourd Won
Best Visual Effect Pierre Buffin Won
Best Art Direction William Chang Won
Best Makeup and Costume Design William Chang Won
Best Action Choreography Yuen Woo-ping Nominated
Best Editing William Chang Nominated
Best Sound Effect Robert Mackenzie and Trithep Wangpaiboon Nominated
Audience Choice Award Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 2013 Best Cinematography Phillipe Le Sourd 2nd Place
Denver Film Critics Society 2013 Best Non-English Language Feature Won
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards[31][32] Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue & ADR in a Foreign Feature Film Robert Mackenzie, Traithep Wongpaiboon Won
National Board of Review Awards 2013 Top Foreign Films Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards 2013 Best Cinematography Phillipe Le Sourd Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award 2013 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards 2013 Best Art Direction Nominated
Best Cinematography Phillipe Le Sourd Nominated
33rd Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film Won
Best Director Wong Kar-wai Won
Best Screenplay Zou Jingzhi, Xu Haofeng, Wong Kar-wai Won
Best Actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai Nominated
Best Actress Zhang Ziyi Won
Best Supporting Actor Zhang Jin Won
Best Cinematography Phillipe Le Sourd Won
Best Film Editing William Chang, Benjamin Courtines, Poon Hung-yiu Won
Best Art Direction William Chang, Alfred Yau Wai-ming Won
Best Costume & Make-Up Design William Chang Won
Best Action Choreography Yuen Woo-ping Won
Best Original Film Score Shigeru Umebayashi, Nathaniel Méchaly Won
Best Sound Design Robert Mackenzie, Traithep Wongpaiboon Won
Best Visual Effects Pierre Buffin Nominated
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actress Zhang Ziyi Won
29th Golden Rooster Awards Best Actress Zhang Ziyi Nominated

See also


  1. "The Grandmaster". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  2. Lee, Maggie (8 January 2013). "The Grandmaster". Variety. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  3. Stephen Cremin and Patrick Frater (15 January 2013). "Grandmaster has masterful BO debut". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  4. Elley, Derek (28 January 2013). "The Grandmaster". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  5. "WONG Kar Wai's The Grandmaster to open 63rd Berlinale". Berlinale. Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  6. "HKIFF Review: The Grandmaster". HK Neo Reviews. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  7. "Berlin: So Much For Bad Blood Between Harvey And Megan Ellison; TWC Acquires Wong Kar Wai's 'The Grandmaster'". Deadline Hollywood. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  8. "Oscars: Hong Kong Nominates Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmaster' for Foreign Language Category". Hollywood Reporter. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  9. "9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar Race". Oscars. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  10. Peter Knegt, 2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography,
  11. Oscars, William Chang Suk Ping, Best Costume Design,
  12. Kevin Jagernauth (12 July 2012). "Yes, Wong Kar-Wai Is Still Shooting 'The Grandmaster'". [Indiewire].
  13. Mark Pollard (2009). "Tony Leung injured while training for 'Grand Master'". []. Archived from the original on 27 October 2013.
  14. "Wong Kar Wai On China's Growth, Kung Fu, Oscar Contenders & Bruce Lee". Deadline Hollywood. 14 December 2013. One of the reasons I wanted to make this film at this point is because I think in the last 20 years you can see the growth in China...
  15. "Hong Kong Filmart: Does China Still Need the Island?". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 July 2018. Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai says the time has come to move beyond outdated definitions of Chinese and Hong Kong cinema. "Films don't just belong to the mainland or Hong Kong," he says. "They belong to all Chinese and not just to a certain place at a certain time. It's a legacy that belongs to all of us." Wong, who made his reputation with moody art house fare like 2000's In the Mood for Love, is living proof. He now is enjoying his biggest box-office hit in China with The Grandmaster, his first genre film.
  16. "The Grandmaster (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  17. "The Grandmaster Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  18. Tsu, Clarence (9 January 2013). "The Grandmaster: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  19. "'The Grandmaster' connects with solid action, acting". USA Today.
  20. "The 25 Best Films of 2013". Slant Magazine. The real central figure, in fact, is Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of a rival martial-arts master who, upon her father's murder, devotes her life to the single-minded pursuit of revenge...
  21. The Grandmaster (2013). Entertainment Weekly.
  22. "The Grandmaster Hong Kong Box Office". HK Neo Reviews. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  23. The Weinstein Company Nabs Wong Kar Wai's 'The Grandmaster' Out of Berlin
  24. Berlin 2013: The Weinstein Co. Nabs U.S. Rights to Wong Kar-wai’s 'The Grandmaster'
  25. David Ehrlich. "Kung Foolish: How The American Cut of 'The Grandmaster' Ruins a Masterpiece".
  26. Steve Pond (16 October 2013). "Will Oscar Voters See the Wrong Version of 'The Grandmaster?'". The Wrap.
  27. Kenneth Turan. "Review: Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmaster' has great martial arts style". Los Angeles Times.
  28. Wong Kar Wai. "The Journey Of The Grandmaster". The Huffington Post.
  29. Alonso Duralde. "'The Grandmaster' Review: Sweeping, Gorgeous, Exciting – and Butchered – Taste of Kung Fu Legend Ip Man". The Wrap.
  30. Manohla Dargis (22 August 2013). "Style and Kinetics Triumph in a Turbulent China". The New York Times.
  31. Walsh, Jason (15 January 2014). "Sound Editors Announce 2013 Golden Reel Nominees". Variety. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  32. "'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' lead MPSE Golden Reel Awards nominations". HitFix. Retrieved 15 January 2014.

На других языках

- [en] The Grandmaster (film)

[it] The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster (Yut doi jung si) è un film del 2013 scritto e diretto da Wong Kar-wai e interpretato da Tony Leung e Zhang Ziyi. È basato sulla vita di Yip Man, maestro di arti marziali Wing Chun e mentore di Bruce Lee.

[ru] Великий мастер (фильм)

«Великий мастер» (кит. трад. 一代宗師, англ. The Grandmaster; 2013) — художественный фильм Вонга Карвая, посвящённый биографии мастера боевых искусств Ип Мана. В сентябре 2013 года Гонконг отправил картину сражаться за премию «Оскар» в номинации «Лучший фильм на иностранном языке», однако в итоге лента получила две номинации в других категориях.

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