A giant, big budget flick, from across the sees... featuring a who's who of Martial Arts films, and a trailer that stirred the collective hearts of foot to face fans the world over... I folks... was waiting for this one.
Ok.... ITTTTTTT'SSSSSSSSS TIME! For everyones favorite piece of kung fu blogness, the NINJA MONTH OF THE MONTH. Now, usually we here are B&B try to bring you awesomeness on some level. Be it the cheese of Miami Connection or the crazy why are you not on Bluray cool that was Dragons Forever , but well, I'm not really sure if you should rush out and see this one... I know. Insert sad Boony face here, but, well, let's just do this review and see how I feel at the end.
So, first, let me tell you what the world of critics (speaking of the high end, non small blog site variety) will say about this film:
It redefines an icon
A truly original take
Breath-taking camera work, beautiful to watch... blah, blah, blah.
You know I love a beautiful, well shot, emotionally infused, piece of Ninja cinema, this folks is not that. First, it commits the cardinal sin of any foot to face film - Horrible fight scenes. The choreography is awesome. But, the director has an condition and the only cure is more cow bell... (SNL holla), wait, no, the only cure is countless, and continual, slow motion cuts. I don't even have words for how frustrating watching a fight in this film is. Let me give you a play by play for every fight in this film.
1. Slow motion stare down.
2. Slow motion pose off.
3. Slow motion run at each other.
4. 3-4 seconds of kickass normal speed fighting.
5. Cut to slow motion hand blocking move.
6. Slow motion foot hitting something.
7. Slow motion face, other face.
8. 2-3 seconds of kickass normal speed action....
and well you get the point. Second, it's just plain boring.
Here's the issue... you know who directed this film: Kar Wai Wong. A brilliant director, of slow moving, emotionally stirring, thought inducing, cinema... In fact the first Chinese director to take home best director at the Cannes film festival. Ya. This folks is art house kung fu, and not in a good way. You see films like Crouching Tiger, hidden dragon and House of the flying daggers proved that you could be artsy and still kick ass. THE GRANDMASTER just forgets that the fights in a film like this are as important to audience as the emotional content, more so in some cases... well, ok, my case. For instance, I don't care about a very well crafted emotionally jarring death of a main character because nothing has happened for twenty minutes... and I'm still wondering why a final fight hasn't happened... oh ya, because there isn't one!
Cung Li is in this film. Ya, the world renowned martial artist, and UFC mainstay. You know what he does... attacks Yip Man (the star of the film, although strangely more second billing behind the female lead... what?!) then proceeds to do all kinds of kick ass stuff, only to have the camera cut to a slow motion shot of his foot hitting something that rain can fly off every time he misses. In one of two long fight scenes that demonstrate a strong love for the end of the matrix trilogy. "Hey you know that opening fight in the rain... it was cool, let's do another later in the movie. What? They won't notice it's the same, we'll add knives... and more slow motion shots."
|Tell me that don't look like Neo in a hat... gone on, try!|
This is the 3rd, 4th, 29th (whatever) film about Yip Man. Donnie Yen made a couple of films a few years ago that reminded everyone why Donnie Yen is so freaking awesome, and pointed out that Yip Man was the guy that trained Bruce lee. Then everyone decided to make one. Well, this is the weakest in my humble... ah who am I kidding, in my all encompassing - opinion.
There are moments. Cung Li and Yip Man, crushing a cart between two of their kicks, a bolt flying in super cool slowness after being hit with an errand super move... but it's all lost because I'm leaned forward going - "JUST LET THEM FREAKING FIGHT ALREADY... OH THAT LOOKED COOL WISH I COULDA SEEN IT!"
I am sad.
This is a long (2hours+), boring movie, sprinkled with a few decent fights. There's also a few cool lines, and somehow the guy Playing YIP MAN manages to go through the entire film, and every fight with one face. Obviously an homage to Zoolander. Oh, and did I mention they make Yip Man out to be a complete dick. Abandons his three children, and his wife, not once, but twice... to um... live a life of kicking butt and not being poor. Annnnnd he really loves another woman... annnnnnd he's not used to being poor so he doesn't like it cause he's a rich brat.
Um. That seems to contradict the other films portrait of the martial arts legend.
Look, there are some incredibly cool shots here. If the director hadn't been in love with his own abilities, we could've had one of the greatest foot to face films ever... but as it is... two hours of - Meh. Zhang Ziyi is beautiful to watch as always, and is by far the best actor. The director and her have worked together and he actually manages to turn a movie about the guy that trained Bruce Lee into a film about the troubled life of this chick.
All show, no go. Lots of pretty, and not much else...
Movie scale 2.5 out of 5 stars
Ninja movie scale 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Remember, all the high end critics are gunna be on this like white on rice... but keep an eye on the thoughts and feelings of Me, and my kind lol... we know the truth.
- Chuck Boonsweet , smoke bomb! and gone!
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