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THE GRANDMASTER

The Making of THE GRANDMASTER
For the casting of THE GRANDMASTER, director Wong Kar Wai needed actors who could make the extraordinary commitment to several years of rigorous kung fu training. He wanted them not just to embody the spirit, dignity and ethical bearing of a grandmaster but also truly to master the moves of the schools they would represent. 'They didn't just have to be appropriate for the role,' says the director, 'they needed to be tough.'

Ziyi Zhang, Tony Leung, Chang Chen and Zhang Jin were up to the challenge. Ziyi Zhang, with her background in dance and exquisite physical grace, would represent Bagua. Tony Leung would play Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man. Zhang Jin would play Ma San, a master of Xingyi and Chang Chen as The Razor would take on the explosive form of Baji.

In fact, under the tutelage of the Baji master Wang Shiquan, Chang Chen became so talented at Baji that he took first place in a national Baji competition in 2012 -- an accomplishment that become a media sensation.

Wang Shiquan was among the veritable army of kung fu masters and grandmasters who contributed their expertise and time to the training of THE GRANDMASTER's stars. Others included Wing Chun master Duncan Leung, a disciple of Ip Man who studied alongside Bruce Lee and who is the leading proponent and teacher of the form. Duncan Leung's son, the Wing Chun master Darren Leung (who appears in the film as Brother Hung), also spent countless hours training Tony Leung. The goal was that the fights in the film -- choreographed by internationally renowned action director Yuen Wo Ping (Drunken Master, The Matrix, Kill Bill) -- would display an unprecedented authenticity.

Wong Kar Wai's long-term collaborators William Chang Suk Ping and Alfred Yau Wai Ming designed the production. It took Chang two years to search out and collect the beads, ribbons, lace, and materials for the costumes alone; he collected a library of photographic books of the era for visual references. Among the sets they built in southern Kaiping, a town near Foshan in Guangdong Province where the production was based, were a full-scale replica of a train station in Japanese-occupied Manchuria, the magnificent bordello known as the Gold Pavilion, as well as the boarding houses and kung fu schools of 1950s Hong Kong.

Those fans Wong Kar Wai films such as In the Mood for Love and 2046 will not be disappointed by THE GRANDMASTER, which is every bit as stylish, sensual and elegant as anything else he has ever done; this is kung fu as only Wong Kar Wai could present it.

After eight years of preparation, principle photography under the direction of Philippe Le Sourd began in November 2009 in Kaiping. From January 2010 to May 2010 the shooting moved to Northeast China, where they shot under blisteringly cold conditions that took cast, crew and equipment to the very limits of endurance. Shooting resumed in September 2010 and continued through November 2012 in Kaiping; post-production took place in Bangkok in late 2012-13 at Oriental Post. The international crew (China, Hong Kong, France, Singapore, Australia, U.S.A.) worked round the clock by the director's side, often going for days without sleep to achieve the level of perfection he demands and which has put him on every serious film critic's list of top film directors in the world today.

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