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Film / The Grandmaster

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"Kung-fu, that's two words. One vertical, one horizontal... At the end of the fight, only one man is left standing."

The Grandmaster is a 2013 biopic of martial arts master Ip Man directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhang Ziyi. The martial arts sequences were choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping.

It has no ties to the Ip Man film series.

Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: The female lead is played by Zhang Ziyi, which ought to tell you she is not to be messed with. She proves a match even for Ip Man.
  • Always Someone Better: That there is such a person was one of Gong Yutian's teachings.
  • Anachronic Order
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Ma San.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Gong Er coughs up blood as a delayed effect of an internal injury sustained during her fight with Ma San.
  • Clothing Damage: The cool Old Retainer deliberately does this to several of Ma San's men with his sword, and the meaning is clear: I could hack you apart without breaking a sweat, but that's not what Gong Er wants.
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  • Composite Character: While the story is more or less true to Ip Man's life, the characterization, as well as Tony Leung's performance (particularly in the early scenes), was meant to be an amalgamation of Ip Man and Bruce Lee.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: The first fight in the film is between Ip Man and a dozen Mooks. Of course he wipes the floor with them.
  • Den of Iniquity: Averted; much of the story takes place in a brothel, but Ip Man's narration indicates that perfectly respectable socialization between many of the masters occurred there.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Every character in the movie is proficient in the martial arts with the single exception of Ip Man's wife.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Gong Er wears elegant dresses in all her fight scenes. For her duel with Ma San, she shows up in a beautiful fur-lined coat.
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  • Les Collaborateurs: Ma San joins the government of the puppet-state Manchuria willingly.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: The characters amply comment on the respective merits of their fighting styles.
  • Old Master: Gong Er's father.
  • Old Retainer: Gong Er's manservant/bodyguard used to work for her father before serving her.
  • Parrot Pet Position: The aforementioned character constantly has his pet monkey perched on his shoulder.
  • Re-Cut: The version of the movie shown in American theatres is about 15 minutes shorter, has a somewhat different structure, and features several scenes not included in the original. American critics who had seen the original cut were generally not happy with this, though the Chinese cut is available on importable Blu-Ray.
  • Second Sino-Japanese War: The characters live through the brutal Japanese occupation of their hometown. Ip Man loses his two daughters to starvation during the war.
  • Snow Means Death: The funeral procession of Gong Er's father takes place through a desolate snow-covered landscape, harmonizing with the white banners and white mourning clothes of the attendants.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Ip Man and Gong Er.
  • You Killed My Father: Gong Er seeks revenge on Ma San for killing Gong Yutian.
  • Young Future Famous People: At the end of the film, a little kid enlists in Ip Man's martial arts school, and the audience guesses he will grow up to become Bruce Lee.