The Grandmaster

Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Year Released: 2013
Rating: 1.0

Wong does a terrible job of documenting the development of Yip Man (Tony Leung) as he becomes more and more respected as a master of Wing Chun (the Chinese martial art) - he appears stuck in this aesthetic dilemma wherein he wants to do his usual ponderous, slow-motion meditation on memory ... and then in the following scene there's this well-choreographed, well-photographed fight sequence that interrupts the flow (he made the similarly fractured Ashes of Time in 1994). Though he appears to be moving in a relatively (for him) linear fashion, the result is still a schizo-mess of multiple underdeveloped characters (this was originally supposed to be longer) and handsomely photographed sets; by the conclusion I was marveling at the cinematography but not caring much about Yip, his complex relationship with Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang) or his place in the history of the martial arts. Wong, in my mind, had a great period of creativity in the late nineties leading up to In the Mood for Love, then lost track, lost his great collaborator, Christopher Doyle, turned out a lousy 2046 and is currently turning out messy, unsatisfying shells of movies. Chungking Express was an burst of love for the cinema - this, released close to twenty years later, is as mechanical and dry as they come. The poetry and power are gone, although I hold out hope they will eventually return to him.