The Grandmaster (2013)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 7-Jan-2015

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Featurette-Making Of
Interviews-Crew-Sharon Lee & RZA
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 103:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kar Wai Wong

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tony Leung
Ziyi Zhang
Qingxiang Wang
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† Martial arts films generally appeal to fans of the genre only with only an occasional film which appeals to a broader audience. This film, The Grandmaster (Yi dai zong shi) is an excellent martial arts film but stands out in my mind because of its great beauty visually. The Oscar-nominated cinematography (by Phillipe Le Soud) is stunningly beautiful with some of the best shot martial arts scenes I have ever seen. The film is worth seeing for this reason alone, even if you have always avoided martial arts films. The film is not perfect as a movie but the martial arts scenes are remarkable both in terms of the action for fans of the genre but also in terms of the way they are shot and presented. This is the first martial arts film from well-known Chinese director, Wong Kar Wai. The action scenes are choreographed by the greatYuen Wo Ping.

†††† The film tells the story (or some parts of the story) of the life of Ip Man (Tony Leung) who is a martial arts master from China who was born in 1893 in Fushan, China. A number of films have been made about this man who was one of the leading figures in bringing martial arts into popular culture being an early teacher of Bruce Lee. The film here starts when he is already 40 years old in the 1930s. He is well known in southern China as a martial artist by this time, however is considered to be a bit of an outsider rather than part of the martial arts establishment. At this time, the Northern Chinese Master, Master Gong Yutian (Qingxiang Wang) has decided to retire and journeys south to discuss the future of martial arts with his southern counterparts. They decide to stage a match between the Northern Champion and whoever the Southern schools wish to put forward. After some discussion they decide to put forward Ip Man. During this process he comes in contact with the daughter of Master Gong, Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang) which starts a life-long relationship of unrequited love and deep respect for each otherís skills in martial arts. The film then follows various fights and vignettes from his life without really having a fully formed plot as such. In some ways, the female lead character, Gong Er, is more of a focus in this film than the title character is. The single most impressive fight scene is actually between Gong Er and a minor character and the titular character is not even present.

†††† The cast is excellent with the wonderful Tony Leung leading the way but Ziyi Zhang probably stealing the show from him at times. I am certainly a big fan of both of them as actors and from a physical action perspective. Tony Leung spent a long time preparing for this role, developing his fitness and skills. The martial arts scenes are masterfully choreographed by a legend of the genre and beautifully shot, which makes for an entertaining experience despite the lack of a clear narrative, certainly in this International cut of the film. I have read though that the Chinese cut involves more shifting of timelines with lots of flashbacks which makes it even harder to follow. The International cut which is included here is significantly shorter than the Asian cut and is quite linear from a timeline perspective but just doesn't really provide a clear story. This version I understand adds significant amount of on-screen text especially during the opening sequence to explain the characters, however according to some views this is counter-productive. Regardless, the audience is transported by the atmosphere, drama and beautiful cinematography. A detailed comparison of the various versions can be found here.

†††† I would certainly be interested to see the longer cut of this film, however the film presented here is certainly worth seeing regardless. Recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


†††† This video transfer is of excellent quality for DVD with a very sharp and detailed transfer which shows off the marvellous cinematography. This film must be truly magnificent on Blu-ray. The colour is wonderful, revealing the detail in the sets, locations and Oscar nominated costumes. The shadow detail is very good for DVD but I am sure it would be even better on Blu-ray. Technically it is 16x9 enhanced and in accordance with the original aspect ratio at 2.35:1. The way it is presented here includes small black bars at the sides of the screen as well as top and bottom. There is some minor aliasing and shimmering at times.

†††† There are subtitles available in English which are burned into the print.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† This is one of the best DVD soundtracks I have heard for a while, although obviously it would be much better in lossless HD on a Blu-ray. The Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1) dialogue seems clear and the music is rich, exciting and adds to the drama of the film. It comes across well on this transfer. The surround speakers are really well used adding detail and directionality to the well-staged fight scenes, plus lots of wind, music, train sounds and more. The subwoofer also gets well used providing bass to the train sequence and the other fight scenes plus supporting the music. Excellent stuff for DVD.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


†††† Three extras of variable quality.


†††† The menu features music and motion.

The Grandmaster : From Ip Man to Bruce Lee (21:00)

†††† An American produced featurette about the film, hosted by action star Gia Carano which includes interview snippets from the director, stars, film critics and other people like Keanu Reeves. Covers the story, the man, the link to Bruce Lee, various scenes, Yuen Wo Ping and includes scenes from the film and behind the scenes footage. Not bad.

A Conversation with Sharon Lee, Daughter of Bruce Lee (6:35)

†††† Sharon discusses her fatherís style, his relationship to Ip Man, his dancing skills and other anecdotes. Interesting.

The Grandmaster according to RZA (5:10)

†††† He has a heavy cold and is virtually unintelligible. I am not sure why we want his opinion anyway. He seems to be talking about the fight scenes.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † The Region A Blu-ray includes the same extras and I presume the DVD would as well. Let's call it a tie from a DVD perspective.


††† A stunningly beautiful martial arts film.

††† The video quality is excellent.

††† The audio quality is very good.

††† The extras are variable quality.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE