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      The Grandmaster (2013) – Directed by Wong Kar-wai 

   

 The Grandmaster is a martial arts film directed by Wong Kar-wai. The narrative of the film is about Yip Man, the legend of Wing-chun. Wing-chun is a type of southern Chinese martial arts that applying to self-defence and grappling while specialising close-range combat. This film is aiming to promote the traditional Chinese martial arts and also discover some Chinese and Hong Kong political context. Ip Man is the main storyline of this film. Meanwhile, it shows the whole martial arts culture of the Republic of China. The Grandmaster not only told the story of Ip Man, but also represented the legends of every martial arts genre. Ip gave Kung fu a definition in the opening scene, he states that Kung fu defined by two words: horizontal and vertical, the one lying down is loser and still standing is winner.

  

 According to The Wall Street Journal, Wong has displayed a long-time interest in martial-arts films and novels. His film “Ashes of Time” which produced in 1994 was based on a martial arts novel written by Louis Cha. Before he starts to film The Grandmaster, he did lot of research about martial arts. He went to different city around China to find the legend of every martial arts genre. There are comprehensive studies of the major martial arts styles. Thus, the film had lot of strong professional action scenes. Martial arts is something about self-defense and physical health, also includes the philosophical ideas and spiritual development. This film reappeared the time of Second Sino-Japanese War in China even reappeared the whole costumes, props and the era. Action scenes are playing an important role in this film. Montage of the action shots can make the action that become simpler and produce stronger visual impacts. The creation of character’s inner thoughts, environment atmosphere and the details of fight scenes are making this martial arts movie filled with poetic mood.pervious

 

For the Institutional Mode of Representation, The performance of close-up, slow motion, aesthetics light setting and details of the scene can make his film full of strong personal stylistics. There are a variety of fight scenes under the rain and snow. Character’s bright costumes mixed with fresh rain after the color correction and high-speed motion, it creates a strong black and white contrasting. It forms a kind of ink effect like painting. While the close-up and over the shoulder shot, we can always see the peripheral portion of character’s face with highe a heavy feeling. On the other hand, it makes the characters surrounded by a depth real history. Also, make the audience feel that they are tracing backward and not face forward. Wong uses lot of slow motion to create the beauty of human body’s flexibility and also provides some sense of realism. In addition, slow motion can extend the time and emotion. There are some angles of shots are dangling straight sown the lens 180 degrees. Audience can have an overhead view of the whole fighting scenes. Moreover, he uses parallel structure to enhance the stereoscopic of the film. The storylines of Ip Man, Gong Er and Yi Xian Tian are paralleled. He added the storyline of Yi Xian Tian and San Jiang Shui. Also, carried out one of the themes that is “All the encounter in the world are long-awaited reunion.” From Yi’s story also can embody this theme. With William Chang’s costume design, the frames of the whole film achieve an aesthetic structure. Those things are the film language that can express the mood and theme of the film and also pass out martial arts flavor.Chineseangel to creat

 

Wong Kar-wai haves a distinctive directorial style. His films are full of intense personal style, also known as his familiar theme and stylistic. Truffaut states that director with personal style and unique worldview as an auteur (Truffaut, 1954). auteur defined as director uses their technical competence and personality to create an interior meaning to visual treatment (Sarris, 1962:362). He always uses slow pace and suitable music to create a special atmosphere. He uses similar actors and collaborators such as Tong Leung and William Chang. Bettinson argues that the contributions of William Chang and actor Tong Leung are widely recognized in Wong’s film, especially, in connection with film’s visual sensuousness (Bettinson, 2012:98). Wong Kar-wai states that William Chang is a very good art director and editor. He has worked with Wong since his first film. Chang is not only serving Wong, but also trying to create his own ideas of movie. Wong’s films are not following the dramatic narrative logic, which is Wong’s film aesthetic style. Wong's feature film is a wonder to behold as sumptuously designed, gorgeously colored, profoundly sad (Kaufman, 2009). He always uses the certain types of style and people say that this is his label and trademark. Wong Kar-wai is a person with artistic conception. He gives people a mysterious personal image cause he always wears a sunglass.Also

 

Artistically, Wong’s craft makes his film presenting a grand and dignified temperament. Wong’s film has always been known for the construction of atmosphere. We can see a martial arts world with military and great pattern through this film. It is Wong’s view of martial arts world. Wong is aiming to represent the passing of martial arts, the passing of Chinese spirits and the passing of Chinese philosophy. The film carried out the representation of culture, Chinese lifestyle and philosophy. There is a dialogue, “Never give up the faith. Pass on the torch and keep the light burning. There will light on someone.” Also is the theme of this film that sending out the message behind martial arts. Martial arts have a deep spiritual world, which is about inheritance. The film leading audience to investigate among the era that relates to the conversion time and space and also involve a lot of huge contradictions between nations.civil,

 

This film combined the elements of Italian neo-realism and Soviet montage. Neo-realism is to capture the truth of situations and people. According to Bazin, Italian neo-realism applies a faith in reality (Bazin, 1967). Film production uses the reality of social, cultural, historical and economic context as a decisive role of film (Bazin, 1971:17). The Grandmaster reveals the historical personal of Hong Kong, also represents Chinese and Hong Kong culture. Ip Man is the legend of Wing-Chun. He was the first person this type of martial arts to Hong Kong and flourished it. This film applied the basic ideas of neo-realism that trying to reappear cultural and historical context. Also, it used real action for the fighting scene and not special effects. Wong required actors learnt martial arts before filming. He wants to appear the reality of martial arts. This is also the mise-en-scene of the film.brought

 

Wong undulates “dead time” in the incident of his character’s lives as with the French director Francois Truffaut use moment of poignancy, somewhat indulgently (Cousins, 2012:470). “Dead time” that depicts the moments that are not productive but still meaningful in the day when people are waiting and to gain a better focus on to a character's facial expression and emotion. Moreover, long shot and deep focus shot always prominent in Italian neo-realism. The Grandmaster uses a lot deep focus shot on character’s face to express their emotion. Also, some shots with the back, mid and foreground all in focus can show entire scene and action. However, it used the studio lighting and added the visual effects instead of the nature lighting in some shots. That is the difference between The Grandmaster and neo-realism.freeze-frames

 

On the other hand, Vertov gave Soviet montage a definition as manifesting that “I am kino-eye, I am a mechanical eye. I, a machine, show you the world as only I can see it” (Vertov 1929). Vertov used his eyes as a machine to transfer the things that he saw into the films and showed to the audience. Everything in the films is the message that the filmmakers want to bring out for the audience. As mentioned above, The Grandmaster assembled the martial arts, social and cultural. The director is aiming to show his point of views and feelings through the film. Wong thinks that martial arts have a great research value and worth to keep. He also thinks playing martial arts is full of aesthetic and momentum.

 

Montage is to select, edit and organize segments of the film to form a coherent whole (Eisenstein, 1949). So Wong Kar-wai was showing those ideas on his film via different shots and editing. We can verify this point of view in the action scenes. The characters were fighting in a specific location. To create tension atmosphere, Wong did a lot of close-up to the character’s action for example focus on their foots and hands. It used rhythmic montage to create visual continuity and keep the pace, but not taking a long shot of the whole fighting scene. Take “In The Battleship Potemkin (1925)” as an example of rhythmic montage. There was a scene of a child fell down on the stair and his mother cannot do anything. Everyone kept running and stepped on child’s body. These shots created tension along with the action of the passer and the emotion of mother. Rhythmic montage depends on both the length of a shot and the dynamics of the scenes. The rhythm of the character's offensive and defensive action may conflict with the rhythm of the frame; hence the action between the characters generated tension. For example, there was a fighting scene between Gong Er and Ma San. Ma pushed Gong's head near to the moving train; it can create a tension for to think about the consequence. This scene filmed from different angels and sizes that can focus on bath the character’s face and setting.audience

 

 In the 60s Hong Kong, there had cinemas for Hollywood films, local productions, European cinema, but there was no label of art film. Moreover, there was no film as an art film and without the concept of art cinema. Until Wong Kar-wai begun to produce the film as an art film, Hong Kong people cannot accept that kind of new cinema. On the other hand, western countries appreciated Wong’s idea more than Hong Kong people. Wong Kar-wai’s visibility increased in most western countries. “My Blueberry Night” is Wong’s first English film. It was a co-production of Hong Kong and France. In 2008, Wong re-edited “Ashes of Time” and released “Ashes of Time Redux”. It is available to both Asian and western markets. We can recognize Wong’s position in global film culture via “Ashes of Time Redux”. Wong’s success on this network brands as this restoration was intended less for the local Hong Kong market than for international distribution on the festival circuit, so he is not only a Hong Kong director, but as an international supplier of film art (Bettinson, 2012:101).labelled

 

Every things happened in our daily life can change our stories. The Italian cinema and the French new wave in the 60s, people have many things to say and new perspective after the Second World War that facilitated the ideas of those cinemas. Asian cinema includes Korean cinema, Japanese cinema, Thai cinema and even Hong Kong cinema becoming stronger because they have their own social problems, cultural and story in their life. Thus, there become more new ideas for the film. Also, during the globalization, there are a lot of issues around the world and everyone can receive that information via the Internet. So the films are more accessible to the western audience. In addition, there are three versions of The Grandmaster have been released. The first one is a Chinese cut, the second one is for the Berlin International Film Festival and the Weinstein Company releases the third version. There are some time and structure different between this three versions. This can show the point that Wong’s film are becoming more internationalization and more western countries are letting Wong’s film been shown.

 

The Grandmaster has a bit different with Wong’s previous film, but there still a continuation of his previous films such as skills and feelings. The most different thing is the film is not only introduced a thing that Hong Kong, but also having a connection with the narrative of Mainland China. It also represents the Chinese community and the dream that they have. Although The Grandmaster is an action film, it still keeping Wong’s expert romance style. Wong always good at exerts emotional rendering skill. He also good at create the love story that yearning between men and women. The relationship between the two main characters combined with adagio music, it seem like taking us back to the kind of eye contact with ambiguous situations that presented by “In the mood for love”. Audience can see the reflection of “In the mood for love” while watching the relationship of Ip Man and Gong Er. These two films striped out the same unfulfilled romantic desires.represent

 

e beautiful periods of time to allow Wong’s films are more concerned with characters and effects then narrative. He played more attention on characters’ emotion. He added a lot of emotional color to the film, which can lead the audience participated into the story. Bettinson states that Wong uses auteur’s strategies to balance aesthetic pleasure with cognitive assiduity to make audience bathing in his intoxicating imagery plot details (Bettinson, 2012:101). His movie can simply make audience drown themselves in. Wong the imagery, the rhythm of editing and the music with the voiceover narration to create a mesmeric mood for the audience. The shot stays on thaudience to enjoy the emotion on their face, so sometime communicating volumes are not necessary in those shot. This film is a skilful exercise in his subtle techniques that love without sexual and eloquent without being obvious.use

 

ugh this film’s narrative style has a bit different with The Grandmaster is a film that experiencing Wong Kar-wai’ s proficient style. Althohe pervious films, also has a lot more action scenes and visual effects, we can still see some similar techniques through the filming practices, the image of characters and usage of the sound effects. Meanwhile, he uses the image to tell use he was driven to make a film about the beauty and elegance of Chinese men and women. Wong Kar-wai influenced by different film movements, which enlightened him to create his unique film style. Therefore, his films deserved to be studied.

 

Reference:

 

Abbas, A. (1997) Hong Kong: Culture and Politic of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

 

Bazin, A. (1971) What is Cinema?: “An Aesthetic of Reality: Neorealism. California: University of California Press

 

Bazin, A. (1967) What is Cinema?: “The Myth of Total Cinema”. California: University of California Press

 

Bettinson, G. (2012) Directory of World Cinema: China. Bristol: Intellect

 

Braudy, L. (2004) Film Theory and Criticism Introductory Reading. New York: Oxford University Press

 

Charles, J, (2002) In the Mood For Love [online] available from <http://www.dighkmovies.com/v2/128/128a.html>

 

Cousins, M. (2012) The Story of Film. London Pavilion

 

Eisenstein, S. (1949) Film Form: Essays in Film Theory. New York: Mariner Book

 

Kaufman, A. (2009) Decade: Wong Kar-wai on “In the mood For Love” [online] available from <http://www.indiewire.com/article/decade_wong_kar-wai_on_in_the_mood_for_love> [6 Dec 2009]

 

Lee, M.  (2013) Review: “The Grandmaster” [online] available from <http://variety.com/2013/film/reviews/the-grandmaster-1117948960/> [8 Jan 2013]

 

Leung, H. (2012) [online] Editing – Rhythmic Montage (Eisenstein) available from <http://limitedfuss.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/editing-rhythmic-montage-eisenstein.html> [17 May 2012]

 

Nagib, L. (2011) Tauris World Cinema: Theorizing World Cinema. New York: I.B. Tauris

 

Napolitano, D. (2013) Wong Kai-wai Awarded France’s Biggest Cultural Honor [online] available from <http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2013/05/06/wong-        kar-wai-awarded-frances-biggest-cultural-honor/> [6 May 2013]    

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