The Grandmaster

ImageImageThe Grandmaster is a 2013 Hong-Kong-Chinese martial arts drama film directed by Wong-Kar-Wai based on the life of Ip Man, a Wing Chun grandmaster and master of Bruce Lee.  This film starts off during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, and China’s martial arts are divided between the southern and northern China.  The most praised grandmaster of northern martial arts at the time was Gong Yutian.  Ip Man at the time was struggling with his family, and a well-praised grandmaster from southern China.  Yutian dies shortly into the movie, and his daughter, Gong Er, vowed to him not to have a place in martial arts.  However, Er has already specialized in a form of martial arts.  Before Yutian died, he appointed his heir, Ma San, to take his place as the most praised grandmaster of northern China.  Ip Man and Gong Er fight shortly after meeting, but form a friendship and respect each other’s ability.  Throughout the movie, Ip Man struggles to support his family during wartime, and loses two of his daughters due to his refusal to accept food from the Japanese government, saying it would be taboo to disgrace his nation by accepting nourishment from a foreign enemy of China.  Ip Man moves to Hong-Kong as a last resort, thinking to himself that he would never have had to leave his country or Gong Er.  He makes a living in Hong Kong by proving himself to a school of martial arts, and places himself as the best teacher of Wing Chun in Hong Kong.  In 1950, Ip Man revisited China to see Gong Er, and wished to spar with her and compare their skills.  Er politely refuses, explaining to him that she no longer wishes to practice martial arts, because she does not belong to martial arts.  After this moment, a flashback 10 years earlier shows a brutal fight between Gong Er and Ma San at a train station, in which Er defeats and leaves Ma San at the brink of death.  Gong Er leaves the station and goes home, only to cough up blood and find herself in pain.  After this moment she vows to herself to exclude herself from martial arts.  At the end of the movie, Gong Er confesses to Ip Man that she loved him once, and Ip Man responds in comparing life to a game of chess, how we all can find ourselves in great moments, and plan out our life accordingly to make great moments last as long as they can.  The Grandmaster is filled with philosophy about life from Ip Man and other important martial arts figures in the movie.  Much of the philosophy about life in the movie is related to martial arts.  At the very end of the movie Bruce Lee is quoted:  “A true martial artist does not live for, he simply lives.”  The Grandmaster was released in January 2013 in theaters in Hong Kong and throughout China and was extremely successful.  It has just been released to theaters in America recently.


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