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Festival favourite Wong Kar Wai is back with his long-awaited Kung Fu epic ‘The Grandmaster’.
The fruit of eight years’ labour, it was selected as the opening film for this year’s Berlin Film Festival, where Wong is president of the jury.
Cannes Best Actor Tony Leung plays Ip Man, the legendary instructor of Kung Fu superstar Bruce Lee.
Wong hatched the idea back in 2000, before he made his name with ‘In The Mood for Love’.
Only after knocking on the doors of more than 100 Kung Fu masters across China did the director think he was ready.
In the film Wong wants to convey the common spirit shared by the “grandmasters” and aficionados alike.
“In the world of martial arts, there are many people who are not ‘masters’, but they have a deep affection for martial arts. They always hope to leave something behind for their clan and martial arts during their lifetime. I think this spirit is the spirit that ‘The Grandmaster’ wants to convey – lingering thoughts that are never forgotten, echoes that will always come,” he said.
Set at the birth of modern China in the early 1900s, it features a showdown between China’s top four fighters for the vacant “grandmaster” title.
They include Zhang Ziyi of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. To sharpen her martial arts chops she got Jet Li’s teacher to lend a hand.
“She is a combination of almost all the unique features and merits of women of that era. In terms of movements, we trained for such a long time because the director hoped when we went inside the world of the characters, we already carried their spirit in our bodies,” she said.
‘The Grandmaster’ overcame several delays before its world premiere in Beijing at the start of January. Berlin is its first foreign outing.