Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
Original title: Yi Dai Zong Shi
Hong Kong/China, 2013. Block 2 Pictures, Jet Tone Films, Sil-Metropole Organisation, Bona International Film Group. Story by Kar Wai Wong, Screenplay by Kar Wai Wong, Jingzhi Zou, Haofeng Xu. Cinematography by Philippe Le Sourd. Produced by Jacky Yee Wah Pang, Kar Wai Wong. Music by Nathaniel Mechaly, Shigeru Umebayashi. Production Design by William Chang, Alfred Yau. Costume Design by William Chang, Fung-San Lui. Film Editing by William Chang, Hung Poon. Academy Awards 2013. National Board of Review Awards 2013. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2013.
Wong Kar Wai disappoints ardent fans of his greatest works with this predictable and by-the-numbers martial arts film. It’s a biopic about Ip Man, most famous now for being Bruce Lee’s fight instructor. In 1930s China, with Japanese invasion on the horizon, two different schools of martial arts are constantly experiencing friction with each other, united when a famous teacher challenges Ip (Tony Leung) in order to make him his heir. Years later, following the Sino-Japanese war, our protagonist is struggling to survive and his teacher’s daughter (Ziyi Zhang) is looking to find her father’s killer. Gorgeously photographed and featuring a sumptuous music score, it has none of the circular movements of Wong’s most powerful films, told in a boring and straightforward style with the same slice-and-dice editing that makes most similarly themed films so numbing. The threadbare plot serves primarily as an excuse to get to the fights, making it a recommendation for anyone to whom that is a selling point.