Monday, 7 March 2011


Due to log in/reliability issues with Blogger I have been forced to move this blog.
Wong Kar Wai News will now be available at
Please update bookmarks. I will try to sort out RSS feeds.
I will probably leave this version up for archival purposes.

Filming halted on ‘The Grandmasters’, released delayed until Winter 2011?

Sohu Entertainment News are reporting that filming on ‘The Grandmasters’ has stopped and Wong Kar-wai has something else to be busy with. The film has been in preparation for almost 8 years and in production for 2 years, yesterday was rumoured to be coming to a production halt. It had been assumed that the film was near completion and was in the promotional phase. However, this could not be further from the truth.

In the interim its lead actor Tony Leung, who has focused on making and not taken any other role, recently accepted a role in Derek Yee’s ‘The Great Magician’ whilst he waits for ‘The Grandmasters’ to resume.

According to an insider of ‘The Grandmasters’, actress Song Hye-kyo has left the team in December 2010, and she has not returned in January 2011 when filming resumed. According to the staff, Hye-kyo was ‘very gentle’, she has not complained about the shooting delay as what has been rumoured. She did not need to do any kung fu fighting scenes. Though she should be playing an important role, she has only done a small portion of the shooting, so she might need to return to continue shooting later. However, Wong Kar-wai still has no idea how to fit her into the movie. There is a chance that not only Hye-kyo, but some of the other actors/actresses portions will be ‘cut’. All the main roles including the part played by actor Chang Chen, except Hye-kyo have a lot of fighting scenes.

The release date for ‘The Grandmasters’ has repeatedly been delayed, from National Day to Lunar New Year of this year. Thus its goal was to finish by May. Reportedly from the current progress it would have difficulty with its completion. Wong Kar Wai decided to halt the production for Tony Leung to make money first while he could explore new elements before consider when to resume production. For the past two years Tony Leung has decided not to accept any other film roles so that he could focus fully on playing the role of Yip Man. However, it has been decided that he will begin work on ‘The Great Magician’ in the next few weeks and resume filming on ‘The Grandmasters’ at a later date.

Meanwhile The Hollywood Reporter has noted that the film “has been delayed until the fourth quarter.”


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Weinstein Company acquires UK & Australian rights to 'The Grandmasters'

Deadline are reporting that The Weinstein Company have snapped up the UK and Australian distribution rights to 'The Grandmasters'.

"The Weinstein Company has closed a deal for United Kingdom and Australian distribution rights to The Grandmasters, the Wong Kar-wai-directed Chinese language martial arts film. Harvey Weinstein is among a small group vying for domestic rights, with Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics also in the mix. TWC's investment was north of $1 million for the offshore rights. Buyers were shown about 15 minutes of expertly choreographed martial arts footage, and also were given a 5-page synopsis of the film. Distributors are going on faith that the director's vision holds together in a cohesive story. The film is the life story of the martial artist Ip Man, and Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen are in the cast. CAA is repping The Grandmasters.
The Grandmasters was one of the hottest titles to be shown to buyers at Berlin, where Megan Ellison's Annapurna Productions became an investor in the film for a rumored $3 million."

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Heiress Megan Ellison set to acquire rights to ‘The Grandmasters’

According to the Hollywood Reporter, heiress Megan Ellison's Annapurna Productions is reportedly in final talks to pick up North American rights to Wong Kar-Wai‘s martial arts epic “The Grandmasters” which stars Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen and follows the story of artist Ip Man, best known as the mentor of Bruce Lee.

"Ellison is in final negotiations to pick up the rights and to make a significant financial commitment to the movie and its marketing. The plan is for Ellison and Wong to partner with a distributor in the coming months.
Grandmasters, starring Tony LeungZhang Ziyi and Chang Chen, is a biopic of famed martial artist Ip Man, who practiced the art of Wing Chun and is best known as the man who taught Bruce Lee. Action sequences were choreographed by Yeun Woo-ping
The movie is still in production but Wong took a break from filming to trek to Berlin, privately showing buyers footage from his epic Friday. (Wild Bunch is selling the film internationally while CAA is handling domestic.)
Ellison, who did not attend Berlin, practiced her own Wing Chun in Berlin to sweep the legs from under Weinstein Co., Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics and Focus Features, who were in the mix to nab the rights as well.
Wong was won over by Ellison's personal touch and personal commitment to him and the film, which is being bought off of 10 minutes of footage. With the deal that steps off the beaten parth, Wong will now also be partnered with a financier who will have more at stake than a more traditional company.
Annapurna has been making surgical moves to be involved with top talent as the company makes a name for itself as a producer and financier. Ellison was an exec producer on True Grit, and is a producer on The Wettest Country in the World, the Shia LaBeouf-Tom Hardy crime drama selling at EFM.
She recently partnered with Mark Boal and Management 360 to option The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, a New York Times Magazine article on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Annapurna and Wong are repped by CAA."

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Grandmasters Generating Heat in Berlin

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Weinstein Company, Fox Searchlight and and Sony Pictures Classics are among those interested in Wong Kar-wai’s martial arts movie 'The Grandmasters'. Also it seems that the film may still be shooting.

"One of the films to watch in Berlin is The Grandmasters, Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai's sumptuous telling of the tale of martial arts legend Ip Man.
The story has previously been told in films like Ip Man and Ip Man 2, but Kar Wai, director of Chungking Express and My Blueberry Nights, is generating buzz because the project is his first action movie.
Kar Wai took a break from filming to trek to Berlin, privately showing buyers footage from his epic.
Among those showing strong interest, according to insiders, were execs from Weinstein Co., Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics. Focus Features is likely in the mix as well.
Wild Bunch is selling international while CAA handles domestic.
The $25 million Chinese-language film might seem to be a tough sell in the U.S., for the mere fact that it isn't in English. Then again, that didn't stop Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon from crossing over from art house fare to becoming a major North American box office hit as well as a multiple Oscar winner.
Grandmasters stars Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen. Action sequences were choreographed by Yeun Woo-ping."

Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter:

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Grandmasters unveiled in Berlin

The Wong Kar Wai directed film THE GRANDMASTERS earlier unveiled lead actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai's GRANDMASTER look, surprising the American Film Market, leading to attention from buyers and fans everywhere and even started an online poster bid fever. THE GRANDMASTERS (YUT DOI JUNG SI) has been in production for awhile. In order to satisfy everyone's curiosity the film company would strike again by displaying Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi's action sequences from the film at this year's Berlin Film Festival and demonstrate the GRANDMASTER fashion without holding anything back.

After Tony Leung's dark clothes and white straw hat Yip Man look in THE GRANDMASTERS was revealed, people proclaimed the birth of a Chinese super hero and a new icon of a dark warrior. Immediately it became the target of imitation in the business. Because Tony Leung's dark warrior in the rain look did not clearly show his face, this time the film company will display his heroic look fully in Berlin. Tony Leung's unique Yip Man look swept across Europe and America and started a GRANDMASTERS fever. Even European and American distributors would spare no expense on promoting this Wong Kar Wai kung fu epic at this year's Berlin Film Festival film market. They would attract buyers with Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi's action sequences. Conceivably after Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi, other key characters' unique looks in the film would gradually be revealed.

European distributors outside the film market center deliberately selected an eye catching spot, built two buildings and filled their walls with Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi's GRANDMASTERS posters. In the poster Tony Leung used both fists and kicks and displayed his Wing Chun. Zhang Ziyi showed her eight diagram palm style and brought a refreshing look to everyone. Their stills surrounded the building walls and became one of the promotion focus. Wong Kar Wai broke into the European and American markets with IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (FA YEUNG NIN WA), which also began one of the foreign films in the European market with the box office.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Five films by Wong Kar-wai named in Greatest Chinese Films poll

The Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival has announced the results of its survey of the "100 Greatest Chinese-Language Films". 122 industry professionals took part in the survey, including film scholars, festival programmers, film directors, actors and producers.
With 73 votes, Hou Hsiao-hsien's 'A City of Sadness' topped the poll. Edward Yang's 'A Brighter Summer Day' came a close second.
Wong Kar-wai was Hong Kong's most recognised director with five slots headed by 'Days of Being Wild' in 4th place. The other films by Wong Kar-wai in the list are 'In The Mood For Love' (joint 9th), 'ChungKing Express' (21st), 'Happy Together' (26th), and 'Ashes Of Time' (joint 50th)

Top 10:
 1 A City of Sadness; dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien
 2 A Brighter Summer Day; dir. Edward Yang
 3 A Time to Live and a Time to Die; dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien
 4 Days of Being Wild; dir. Wong Kar-wai
 5 Spring in a Small Town; dir. Fei Mu
 6 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; dir. Ang Lee
 7 Yi Yi: A One and a Two; dir. Edward Yang
 8 Dust in the Wind; dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien
9= Dragon Inn; dir. King Hu
9= In the Mood for Love; dir. Wong Kar-wai

Tony Leung's stunt double in The Grandmasters

Tony Leung's stunt double in the Yip Man biopic 'The Grandmasters' is Henry Araneda, an Applied Wing Chun master based in Melbourne. He posted some photos of him on his website with Tony Leung, director Wong Kar-wai, action director Yuen Woo-Ping and MMA fighter Cung Le (who he shares a fight scene with).

Friday, 31 December 2010

The Grandmasters Press Conference and Teaser Trailer

Director Wong Kar-wai and cast members of The Grandmasters appeared at a special press conference held in Beijing on December 28th.
The event was for the 60th anniversary of Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd, one of the film's production companies.
Most of the attention went to the cast of The Grandmasters, including Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Zhao Benshan, Song Hye-kyo, Xiao Shenyang and Wang Qingxiang, who rushed from the Guangdong set. The team presented an oil painting poster to the company.
The event showed a promotional reel for The Grandmasters but it did not include any actual footage from the film. Host Zhang Guoli joked that this trailer was mysterious enough, after such a long shoot the trailer had no scenes at all.
Then actors Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Song Hye-Kyo, Zhao Benshan, Xiao Shenyang, Wang Qingxiang appeared on stage.

Speaking of the fight scenes, Tony Leung said that he was not worried as he practiced for a long time. He practiced so much that his arm was broken at the hands of his Wing Chun teacher. Zhang Guoli joked that the scene of Tony Leung's arm being broken was not preserved, which truly was a regret for Chinese film because it was worth a lot of money. The fight scene in the rain he said was very difficult and took 30 days to shoot. Zhang Guoli joked that it only took 30 days, someone had to thank Wong Kar-wai as normally it might take 3 months.
Zhang Ziyi plays a martial art expert in the film, Zhang Guoli praised her eight diagram palm technique in the snow scene, saying it was very pretty. Zhang Ziyi said that this scene was shot last winter. At the time, the crew joked that this shoot would not be completed as they predicted whether or not they would have to shoot it again next year. Surprisingly they were right. She recalled the 30 degree below zero (Celsius) shooting environment as truly tough.

Chang Chen plays an eight diagram expert in the film. For the film, he trained for two years but the training benefited him a lot and his health improved. 
Song Hye-kyo plays Yip Man's (Tony Leung) wife in the film, but they did not stand together on the stage. She joked that they (she and Tony) were together everyday during filming so they didn't have to stand together now. Zhang Guoli said that this was understandable to avoid suspicion from Tony Leung's wife (Carina Lau). This was Song Hye-kyo's first film shooting in China and she was truly pleased to be able to work with a group of such great actors. She thanked director Wong Kar-wai for his help, because at first she was not too used to his style of directing. Director Wong helped her a lot.
Wong Kar Wai appeared in the end to pose for a group photo with the cast.
Host Zhang Guoli asked Tony Leung to make a kung fu pose but Tony only had his hands in his pockets and played cool. He explained that he was dressed modernly so he posed with his hands in his pockets in front of the poster.
The actors finally sang a birthday song to celebrate Sil-Metropole's 60th year, but they looked somewhat embarrassed.


After two days promoting The Grandmasters in Beijing, Tony Leung returned to Hong Kong. Reporters asked him about the filming schedule and he revealed that he will return to the Mainland later to continue the shoot. He has been shooting more than 10 hours a day, most likely with no time off during the new year. He thinks they will finish around the Lunar New Year (February).
Tony was in good spirits and full of smiles. He said, "Maybe it's because of this Grandmaster hair cut." His earlier injury has now basically healed, but during action scenes he would be even more cautious as he did not want to be injured again.
According to news in Hong Kong, initially the investors wanted 'The Grandmasters' to be released in the Lunar New Year period (early February), but now they are saying that the film will be in Chinese theaters during Easter.

Teaser Trailer:

Translation of the text in the trailer:
"Their valor is transmitted by men of chivalry, accurately recorded by the brushes of history that begin to flow into myriads of seas, and due to the dao, the fortunes of their affection are long, and the elements once a generation bear witness to the masters."

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Grandmasters news round-up

New pic via ScreenDaily:

Fortissimo, Wong Kar Wai's Jet Tone Expand Relationship

Fortissimo chairman Michael Werner will associate produce 'Grandmaster,' with the company also handling the Jet Tone library.

Fortissimo Films and Wong Kar Wai's Jet Tone Films have expanded their relationship around the upcoming title The Grandmaster and Jet Tone's library, Fortissimo chairman Michael Werner and Jet Tone's Jacky Pang Yee Wah said at the American Film Market on Wednesday.
Werner will associate produce Grandmaster, the film starring Zhang Ziyi (Memoirs of a Geisha), Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Lust, Caution) and Chang Chen (Red Cliff), and Fortissimo will handle sales in select territories retained by Jet Tone Film including Japan, South Korea and India.
Werner will work closely with producer Pang to advise on the marketing and release strategy for the film around the world.
Fortissimo also will handle the Jet Tone Films library, including titles such as Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express, Fallen Angels and Ashes of Time Redux.
From the set of Block 2 Pictures and Sil Metropole Organization presentation last week, Werner observed Wong has built Grandmasters around "one of the most exciting sets and fighting sequences that I have ever seen."
Fortissimo and Jet Tone have worked together more than 20 years and Pang said of Werner: "We have always seen Michael as a member of our team and we are very happy to have him physically on board Grandmaster utilizing his background and knowledge of Asian cinema and his expertise in international sales, marketing and distribution."
Chan Ye Cheng and Song Dai are executive producers, while Philippe Le Sourd is shooting the film with action choreography from Yuen Wo Ping and production design by William Chang Suk Ping.

French sales house Wild Bunch has picked up international rights to two of the biggest Chinese-language films of the year.
With the American Film Market starting tomorrow (3 Nov 2010) the company has picked up the upcoming martial arts film The Grandmasters (一代宗師), by Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai (王家衛). It has also secured Under The Hawthorn Tree (山楂樹之戀), the romantic drama by Zhang Yimou (張藝謀) that has been a hit on home turf in China and was set as the opening film at the Pusan and Hawaii film festivals.
The greater surprise is the pickup of Grandmasters. As is typical of Wong, the film has been carefully shrouded in secrecy. But this time, as the film was independently financed without recourse to a minimum guarantee from a sales company, or territory pre-sales, producers at Wong's Jet Tone Films (澤東製作有限公司) have been able to keep buyers and audiences guessing. Many of Wong previous movies were represented by Hong Kong and Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films.
A period piece, Wong's film is the fourth in a recent string of pictures about Ip Man (葉問), the legendary martial artist who taught Bruce Lee (李小龍). It has been tentatively positioned for release at Chinese New Year in late-Jan or early-Feb 2011. However, other recent press reports suggest that shooting will continue in early 2011.
Wild Bunch, which has rights outside Asia, says it will provide buyers with a synopsis and screen a 2-minute promo reel at its booth. But the company did not confirm the delivery date.
Partial rights in much of South East Asia were previously picked up by Hong Kong-based film and pan-regional broadcast group Mei Ah Entertainment. In Hong Kong itself Mei Ah has TV and home entertainment rights, while one of the film's investors SIL-Metropole will oversee theatrical.
Consecutive with the Wild Bunch pickup is a change in title, from The Grand Master to The Grandmasters, the announcement of tagline "in martial arts there is no right or wrong, only the last man standing" and the release of two poster images.
One, in near monochrome, highlights the powerful combination of Wong, Yuen Woo-ping (袁和平) as action choreographer and its stars Tony Leung Chiu-wai (梁朝偉) and Zhang Ziyi (章子怡).
Tony Leung spotted jogging and Song Hye-kyo spotted playing badminton in between filming:

A better look at Zhang Ziyi's character in the film, fighting at the side of the railroad tracks. (Click to enlarge)

The film has been tentatively positioned for release at Chinese New Year in late-Jan or early-Feb 2011. However, other recent press reports suggest that shooting will continue in early 2011.
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