The master’s last wish

Source:Reuters Published: 2013-8-21 18:38:01

A scene from <em>The Grandmaster</em> Photo: CFP

A scene from The Grandmaster Photo: CFP

 It was a black-and-white home movie of an old man, diminutive and cancer-stricken, performing Chinese martial arts techniques in a Hong Kong apartment that spurred director Wong Kar-wai to make his latest film, kung fu epic The Grandmaster.

Wong, best known as an auteur of pensive and brooding urban dramas Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love, said he was deeply puzzled by the intentions behind the homemade film of kung fu master Ip Man, made days before Ip died in 1972.

"I keep asking myself why he wanted to do it and much later I realized that there's a saying in Chinese martial arts that's like 'to keep the fire burning,'" Wong, 57, told Reuters.

"So what I think he intended to do is to do this: He wanted to preserve his technique so it can be shared and taught to future generations," the director said.

The Grandmaster, in US theaters on Friday, is Wong's attempt at sharing that legacy, telling the story of Ip, trainer of kung fu film icon Bruce Lee, as a man whose calling as one of China's martial arts masters was taken from him by the upheaval of World War II.

Starring longtime Wong collaborator Tony Leung as Ip, the film is divided into three parts that span the kung fu master's adulthood in 1930s southern China and his exile in Hong Kong in 1949. Wong said he is able to feel this sense of exile handed down from past generations and how they struggled to adapt while also trying to preserve their former life.


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