The new work of the acclaimed film maker Wong Kar Wai (WKW) is a biographic – drama settled in the martial arts world, there is no exaggeration in calling it martial-arts-drama-biography movie.
The core of every martial arts movie are the fighting/action scenes, so lets concentrate on this for a while. If you know who Woo-ping Yuen is, and if you know what he is capable of when it comes to action scenes and fighting sequences, your subconsciousness will be giving you hints what to expect from the fighting scenes after you have seen his name in the opening credits. And they are just stunning. Brilliantly filmed by the DP and spiced with WKW’s directorial touch, you just want more and more of them. The dose of suspense in the duels (especially Gong Er vs. Ma San) is huge. Some of them felt like sword-fight-samurai-japanese-movies-duels, where you just wait who’s gonna draw first. Another great thing in the movie is assembling the martial arts and Shigeru Umebayashi’s music together – that was a master-move.
How does the movie work as a biopic? Quite well, however I had the impression that the movie is a bit to short for all the stuff that WKW wanted to have in the movie. Few sub-plots, like the “razor’s” sub-plot are really short, so you can be wondering “who the hell is this guy?”. I find the amount of titles that explain what & when happened to whom a bit to large – this also proves that if we had couple of tens minutes more of the movie, we would have clearly gotten everything that WKW wanted to place in his film. I also observed something strange at the end of the movie, by that I mean the last few minutes – after the last scene that involves Er – suddenly we get tons of explanation titles, few cool fighting scenes and a Bruce Lee quote – all this is another evidence that there was much more stuff filmed and this stuff hasn’t made t into the final cut.
WKW’s new movie is definitely worth watching, it’s just beautiful. I won’t hesitate to state, that this is the only Chinese contemporary movie that tells the story of Yip Man without exploiting the master’s biography for making a “wire-fu”, star-packed blockbuster.
Day 1 (Day 0 is the opening day) of Berlinale, was also the day I attended the screening of TBP -AFK on. It’s a really thrilling documentary. The director of the film, a believer of free internet, unlocked the movie for watching via youtube parallel to the start of the world première screening.