Wong Kar Wai Cuts THE GRAND MASTER Further For Berlin

James Marsh, Asian Editor
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai has excised a further 15 minutes out of his new martial arts epic The Grand Master, ahead of its international debut at the Berlin International Film Festival this coming Thursday.

The film, which fictionalises the early life of wing chun pioneer Ip Man (played here by Tony Leung Chiu Wai), was cut from an apparent 4-hour version to 130 minutes in time for its Chinese premiere on 8 January. News that Wong has now re-edited the film to bring it in under two hours is somewhat distressing. In its current form, The Grand Master is an incredibly beautiful and enjoyable film, but there is no denying the second half already feels heavily truncated, with Taiwanese star Chang Chen's role reduced to just three scenes.

Wong has apparently hinted in recent interviews that he is keen to release a longer director's cut in the future, but there has been no official confirmation that this will happen, or if the original four-hour version of the film will ever be made publicly available.

While on the one hand I have no issue with a director continuing to make final adjustments to his film before it goes on wide release, in the case of Wong Kar Wai and The Grand Master it is difficult to feel sympathy for him after already spending so many years in production. To-date, The Grand Master has made an impressive US$45 million in China and Hong Kong, easily breaking all the director's previous box office records. That's an incredibly strong arguement for saying the film works, leave it alone!

I will be curious to see what further changes have been made to the film, and why Wong felt they were necessary, because if anything, the current version would have benefitted from having some of its excised footage put back in, not haivng anything else removed.
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  • Eren

    I think it is not up to Wong himself only. The American producers or international sales agents might have requested the film to be shorter than two hours. As The Grandmaster was a very expensive film for Wong and that it was financed mostly by pre-sales to foreign territories, there can be a legal obligation to deliver a more comercially-oriented shorter international version.

  • Jamaica Knauer

    The film now has more Tony Leung, which is a good thing, but it sounds like maybe it's more fighting, when what it needs, in my opinion, is more of Ip Man's home life - more exploration his character.

    Glad I never saw the original release of Ashes of Time, because I sure like the re-cut.

  • Great, first WKW decided to fuck up Ashes of Time with an unnecesary a different edit and (most importantly) an altered soundtrack...

    ...and now this.

    Watched the movie last week in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was stunning. A poetic piece of art. Amazing visuals and sound, and impressive acting. Yes, 'The Razor' and Song Hye-Gyo were underused. Yes, some scenes seemed to be a little cut short (the dialogue between Zhang Ziyi and her father seemed to be cut off rather abruptly).

    It was still an amazing movie in it's current form, and I wouldn't have wanted to miss a minute of it. It's very distressing that now I might never be able to see the version I already KNOW I love, again. :(

    Ofcourse, it would be great if one day WKW could release a longer 'director's cut', but obviously now cutting a further 15 minutes from the movie is a move in the wrong direction, which, again, is absolutely unnecesary, cause it never drags or feels too long.

    On the contrary. I wished it was longer.

    It's a shame that such a quality film director seems to be so insecure about his own work, that he feels the need to keep tweaking it. In the case of Ashes of Time, for me, it made the new version unwatchable, cause the new (version of the) soundtrack just hurts and I miss the old one.

    In the case of The Grandmasters, it was already pretty much perfect as it was (HK Cut), and to hear an extra 15 minutes has been lobbed off, is just painful and distressing.

  • paratize

    Not to mention the fact that Korean actress Song Hye-kyo apparently worked on the film for a full year only to appear in 6 minutes of the film (in the previous cut). Wonder if she will be removed entirely in the Berlin version...

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