• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Berlinale kicks off with kung fu epic

The Local · 8 Feb 2013, 10:41

Published: 08 Feb 2013 10:41 GMT+01:00

Wong, who also leads the Berlinale's jury this year, is using the event as a launch pad for the worldwide release of "The Grandmaster", which opened in China last month to rave reviews and a box office bonanza.

The film, whose original two-hours-plus length has been chopped slightly for the global market, stars Hong Kong heart-throb Tony Leung from Wong's 2000 hit "In the Mood for Love", and Beijing-born actress Zhang Ziyi ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon").

The picture, which was warmly applauded at a press preview, spans several decades of Chinese history to tell the story of legendary martial artist Yip Man, who went on to train Lee, and features mesmerising battle scenes.

Take a walk down the red carpet here

Wong, 54, told reporters he was confident the movie, which is screening out of competition at the 11-day Berlinale, had appeal beyond China, the world's second biggest cinema market after the United States.

"There is something in this film which is universal. It's about family values and the code of honour," he said. "If they are curious enough... it is also a step for (the international audience) to learn more, to explore."

The film follows the Grandmaster through some of China's most tumultuous recent history including the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.

It spent around a decade in gestation, with extensive re-shooting and injured actors.

Leung said he started learning kung fu at the age of 46, practised for four years for the film and broke his arm twice doing some of his own stunts. But he said the biggest challenge was capturing the Grandmaster's state of mind.

"After four years of hard training I understand kung fu is not just physical training or fighting techniques," he said.

"There is a spiritual side of kung fu and that side you cannot be learning from books or by fact-finding. It grows spontaneously with the mind free of emotions and desires. That is why I had to practise four years."

Zhang plays the sole inheritor of the "64 Hands" technique of her father, another martial arts master, and uses them to lethal effect in the tale of betrayal and vengeance.

She said she accepted the gruelling training and filming schedule to work with Wong, who shot for 20 months over three years.

"If Wong Kar Wai asked me again to give this amount of time, I would do it again, that's how great he is," she said.

Reviews in the international trade press on Thursday were glowing.

"The film contains some of the most dazzling fights ever seen on screen," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

It added: "Wong's art-house fan-base also will find much to savour, with the kind of longing that defines the filmmaker's oeuvre," in films such as "In the Mood for Love" and "My Blueberry Nights" with Jude Law.

Variety concurred: "Wong Kar Wai exceeds expectations... fashioning a 1930s action saga into a refined piece of commercial filmmaking."

But German critics were decidedly less impressed by the flick, with one telling Berlin broadcaster RBB he lost interest by the end.

Wong, who made his international breakthrough in 1994 with "Chungking Express", later joined his stars on the red carpet in his trademark sunglasses for a gala screening at the festival's Berlinale Palast main cinema.

Story continues below…

He is leading the panel handing out the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes among 19 contenders on February 16.

Wong told a press conference with his jury that the Berlinale was an "intimate" festival where the "true pleasure" of sharing ideas was cherished.

"We are here to serve the films, we're not here to judge films, we are here to appreciate films, to champion the films that we really find inspiring... and move us," he said.

The first major European film festival of the year and traditionally its most politically minded, the Berlinale this year is showcasing pictures about the human impact of the West's economic crisis, two decades of upheaval in eastern Europe as well as fresh releases from US independent directors.

Last year the Golden Bear went to Italian veterans Paolo and Vittorio Taviani for the docudrama "Caesar Must Die" about prison inmates staging Shakespeare.

AFP/hc

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany mulls pullout from Turkish airbase: report
A German Tornado jet at the Incirlik base in Turkey. Photo: Bundeswehr/DPA.

Germany's military is preparing to pull out from a Turkish airbase as a row between the two NATO partners escalates, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday.

German man arrested over Bali meth lab
Bali. Photo: DPA

A German man has been arrested on Indonesia's Bali island for allegedly making crystal methamphetamine in a secret lab, officials said Thursday, with authorities seizing bags of powders and bottles used to produce the drug.

Giant 2-metre catfish attacks woman in Bavarian lake
A wels catfish. Photo: DPA

When a young woman went for a swim in an idyllic south Bavarian region, she got more than she bargained for.

Mayor fires refugee project intern for wearing headscarf
File photo: DPA.

A Palestinian who was hired to work as an intern on a refugee project was fired by a town hall this week because she wouldn't take off her headscarf.

President who pioneered Moscow ties dies aged 97
Former Cold War President of West Germany Walter Scheel. Photo: DPA.

Former West German president Walter Scheel, who helped pave the way for his country's rapprochement with the communist East, has died aged 97, his party's spokesman said on Wednesday.

Former East to lag behind West for years to come: study
Poverty in eastern Germany. File photo: DPA

Eastern Germany remains economically anaemic with little prospect of catching up with the rest of the country by 2030, a study published on Wednesday said.

Turkey's spy network in Germany 'thicker than Stasi's'
Photo: DPA.

Turkey has around 6,000 informants working in Germany, which experts say means they're each monitoring more people than the Stasi did in West Germany during the Cold War.

Germany's first 'intelligent' bridge to open in Nuremberg
File photo: DPA

An €11 million bridge, which is nearing completion in northern Bavaria, is set to include technology never seen before on the German Autobahn.

Stockpile food in case of attack, Germany tells citizens
Photo: DPA

Germany on Wednesday urged its population to stockpile food and water in case of terrorist or cyber attacks, as it adopted its first civil defence strategy since the end of the Cold War.

Ten injured after freight train crashes into bus in Osnabrück
The crash site in Osnabrück. Photo: DPA

A freight train crashed into a bus in Osnabrück on Wednesday morning, leaving several people badly injured, local media report.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,566
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd