Harvey Weinstein introduced The Grandmaster as the BFI London Film Festival’s surprise film and addressed the cuts made to Wong Kar Wai’s martial arts epic.
Harvey Weinstein was on hand to introduce last night’s [Oct 17] BFI London Film Festival surprise film, the UK premiere of Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster.
After joking that anyone who was there to see a movie about social matters should “get the hell out of the theatre right now”, Weinstein described The Grandmaster as the continuation of the “great joy of my career” to work with Wong.
Weinstein went on to talk about the new version of the film that has been edited from 130 minutes to 108 for US audiences.
“This is the love, joy and amazing relationship that Kar Wai has with space, time and memory in this movie.
“We tried to keep it as chronologically as we could and at the end of the day, who gives a shit? It’s beyond belief watching the artistic cinema that he did.”
The main focus of the US edit, closely supervised by Wong, is to clear up the historical references peppered throughout the biopic of Ip Man.
Some of the most noticeable changes are several expositionary intertitles and additional on-screen character names.
Scenes involving supporting characters, such as a fellow master Razor (Chang Chen), have been cut down or altered, as have certain developments in Zhang Ziyi’s character Gung Ho, including her marriage.
However, it’s worth noting that the US edit does also include scenes not included in the original 130-minute version, such as a young Gung Ho training.
Wong Kar Wai intro
Before Weinstein introduced the film, which opened the Berlinale in February, there was also a special video introduction from Wong where he described the film as a “dream”.
“I grew up on the streets full of martial arts schools and I never had the chance to learn to practice because it was very hard to convince your parents to let you do so in those days as many of these martial arts are associated with Triads.
“There’s a scene, almost at the end of the film, showing a kid standing outside of the main school, fascinated by what he saw behind the door. In the film, it was the young Bruce Lee, but it could also be me.
“The Grandmaster was a dream that took years to accomplish. On a few occasions, it almost turned into a nightmare. It is completed now and I’m very happy to say that we are all very proud of the film.”
Earlier, to outline what was a genuinely surprising choice, Clare Stewart had invited the audience to shout out their guesses, which included Dallas Buyers Club, The Counsellor and Her. No one guessed correctly.