Director Wong Kar Wai’s (王家衛) 14 year-long project, The Grandmaster <一代宗師> will finally be released in Hong Kong cinemas on January 8, 2013.
Despite Wong Kar Wai’s meticulous care in the filming process, resulting in a visually beautiful picture, several film critics who have seen the film commented that The Grandmaster is similar to the director’s older movies. The poetic expression of the film resembles Ashes of Time <東邪西毒>. When Tony removed his cheongsam in Ip Man, he appeared to be a reincarnation of Chow Mo Wan, his character in In The Mood For Love <花樣年華>. However, there were more praises than adverse criticisms for the film.
Much mockery has been made about its long production life, as compared to other Ip Man <葉問> movies that were conceived after The Grandmaster, but surfaced years earlier. The 3-year filming and demanding martial arts sequences physically drained stars, Tony Leung (梁朝偉), Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) and Chang Chen.
Wong Kar Wai Justifies 14-Year Project
In a press conference held yesterday in Beijing, Wong Kar Wi was present with Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) and Chang Chen (張震). Song Hye Kyo who was rumored to be displeased with Wong Kar Wai because of the long filming duration, was not in attendance.
Often questioned about the necessity of his long production timelines, Wong Kar Wai said, “The Grandmaster is a masterpiece showcasing the beauty of the Chinese people. My cast has been extremely supportive. If I have a choice, I will want filming to go on forever!”
Tony added, “Good things come to those who wait. We used 3 years to film because we needed that amount of time to perfect the film.”
Tony Leung’s Most Demanding Role To-Date
To prepare for The Grandmaster, Tony Leung had to train rigorously with Ip Man’s last disciple, Leung Siu Hung, for 3 years. This was not an easy feat for Tony, who had no martial arts background. “I was 47 years old when I started training. I broke my arms twice, and each time, I took a long time to recuperate. After each time, I had to re-start my training. It was hard work.”
In the promotional trailer, Tony battles opponents in the rain. Tony suffered from bronchial infection after filming the scene. Tony said bitterly, “After 3o consecutive nights of filming, I told Wong Kar Wai I could not take it anymore. He nodded, but filming continued as usual for another week. Shortly afterward, I fell sick and had to be in bed for 5 days.”
On top of the evening-hours filming, Tony had to wake up at 4 AM for a daily morning jog to maintain his physical strength.
Filming on multiple movies together in the past, Wong and Tony nevertheless had a good understanding of each other. When the director said the film was wrapped up, Tony took it with a pinch of salt. “I could not relax even when filming was done. Based on my experience, there was a great possibility Wong Kar Wai would get us back to re scenes that he found unsatisfactory during post-production. We were all on standby.”
Zhang Ziyi Had Enough
Playing a Baguazhang master in the film, Zhang Ziyi proclaimed she had enough of action dramas and will not film another. Like her male costars, Zhang Ziyi had trained hard for her role. “All my old physical troubles are acting up. I can’t deny age is catching up and I can’t stress my body like this anymore.” Zhang Ziyi described the 3 years she spent filming The Grandmaster as if she were on a pirate ship – stuck on board.
Earning praise for his fighting scene with Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen said, “It was stressful filming the fighting scenes. Every move was real, so we hard to practice hard.”