According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai has excised a further 15 minutes out of his new martial arts epic The Grand Master
, ahead of its international debut at the Berlin International Film Festival this coming Thursday.
The film, which fictionalises the early life of wing chun pioneer Ip Man (played here by Tony Leung Chiu Wai), was cut from an apparent 4-hour version to 130 minutes in time for its Chinese premiere on 8 January. News that Wong has now re-edited the film to bring it in under two hours is somewhat distressing. In its current form, The Grand Master is an incredibly beautiful and enjoyable film, but there is no denying the second half already feels heavily truncated, with Taiwanese star Chang Chen's role reduced to just three scenes.
Wong has apparently hinted in recent interviews that he is keen to release a longer director's cut in the future, but there has been no official confirmation that this will happen, or if the original four-hour version of the film will ever be made publicly available.
While on the one hand I have no issue with a director continuing to make final adjustments to his film before it goes on wide release, in the case of Wong Kar Wai and The Grand Master it is difficult to feel sympathy for him after already spending so many years in production. To-date, The Grand Master has made an impressive US$45 million in China and Hong Kong, easily breaking all the director's previous box office records. That's an incredibly strong arguement for saying the film works, leave it alone!
I will be curious to see what further changes have been made to the film, and why Wong felt they were necessary, because if anything, the current version would have benefitted from having some of its excised footage put back in, not haivng anything else removed.
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