Wong Kar-wai, cult HK director of underground classics like “Chungking Express” and “My Blueberry Nights,” has been generating some buzz in Berlin with his first stab at action filmmaking, “The Grandmasters,” a historical action-drama centering on Bruce Lee’s mentor, Ip Man.
Ip Man has been the subject of any number of HK actioners in recent years, and while common wisdom would seem to suggest that distributors are risking over-saturating the market and growing redundant, having a director like Wong Kar-wai, an auteur known for his low-key, emotionally charged dramatic work, at the helm, seems to be enough to interest distributors in the west.
Starring HK icons Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen, the hope seems to be that “Grandmasters” will be the next “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”: that rare foreign film that proves to be a major theatrical success in English-speaking countries. A bidding war between Weinstein Co., Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics may soon break out, with Focus Features showing some interest as well.
While Wong Kar-wai may be new to action, Yuen Woo-ping handled the choreography, so Kung Fu fans should at least be able to expect some solid fight and stunt sequences in the newest retelling of the Ip Man legend.