Tony Leung, Wong Kar-wai Team Up Once Again For ‘The Grandmaster’

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 The story centers around the titular character Ip Man, a Wing Chun grandmaster best known in the West for being the teacher of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. The film stars Tony Leung in the title role along with Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen and mixed martial arts fighter Cung Le.

Korean actress Song Hye-kyo plays Ip Man’s wife, who suffers with him through the Sino-Japanese War in 1930s Foshan, during a more idyllic period of Ip Man’s life before he’s exiled to Hong Kong. (Song learned Mandarin for this role, a skill she will continue to use for her role in John Woo’s upcoming shipwreck epic The Crossing, which is being called “China’s version of Titanic.”)

Director Wong Kar-wai is known for his intense, free-fall style of filming, where the actors often don’t even receive the script beforehand. (At The Grandmaster‘s screening in July, Wong joked that people think he doesn’t have a script, but really, his scripts just aren’t finished until the film is done.) The Grandmaster, which took four years to complete, is his sixth collaboration with Tony Leung.

Leung says that in all of his experiences working with Wong, this is the first time that he actually understood his character prior to shooting — only because it was based on a real person.

“I was very confident on the first day on the set, because I know who I am, so I can respond to different situations,” says Leung. “Before [in previous films], I always had [only] little hints about the character… so I would feel very insecure and frustrated. Also, [this time around,] I always felt very positive and optimistic, and I never had this feeling of calm and peace [on a Wong Kar-wai film] before.” He laughs. “Maybe because all the characters [I played] when I worked with him were very dark and suppressed – very different from this one.” Read more here.