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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Grandmaster aka Yi dai zong shi [Blu-ray]


(, 2013)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Block 2 Pictures

Video: Anchor Bay



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:48:15.489 (regarded as the heavily cut version)

Disc Size: 44,492,752,319 bytes

Feature Size: 28,025,573,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.69 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 4th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 2553 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2553 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps



English (SDH), English, Spanish, none



The Grandmaster: From IP Man to Bruce Lee (23:01)

• A Conversation with Shannon Lee - Daughter of Bruce Lee (6:55)

• The Grandmaster: Behind the Scenes (50:32)
• The Grandmaster - According to RZA (5:23)





Description: Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, THE GRANDMASTER is an epic action feature inspired by the life and times of the legendary Kung FU master, Ip Man who mentored Bruce Lee. The story spans the tumultuous Republican era that followed the fall of China's last dynasty, a time of chaos, division and war that was also the golden age of Chinese martial arts. Filmed in a range of stunning locations that include the snow-swept landscapes of Northeast China and the subtropical South, THE GRANDMASTER features virtuoso performances by some of the greatest stars of contemporary Asian cinema, including Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang.



The Film:

The Grandmaster,” a hypnotically beautiful dream from the Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, opens with curls of smoke, eddies of water and men soaring and flying across the frame as effortlessly as silk ribbons. The men are warriors, street fighters with furious fists and winged feet, who have massed together on a dark, rainy night to take on Ip Man (Tony Leung), a still figure in a long coat and an elegant white hat. Even amid the violent whirlpools of rain and bodies, that hat never leaves his head. It’s as unyielding as its owner.

Keep your eye on that hat, which retains its iconographic power even when Ip Man takes it off to, say, take down a roomful of opponents. The white hat may be an invention — in many archival photos of the real Ip Man (1893-1972), a revered martial-arts master, he’s bareheaded — but there’s a mythic air to the dashing figure wearing it. However much history informs this movie, “The Grandmaster” is, at its most persuasive, about the triumph of style. When Ip Man slyly asks “What’s your style?” it’s clear that Mr. Wong is asking the same question because here, as in his other films, style isn’t reducible to ravishing surfaces; it’s an expression of meaning.

Excerpt from THE NY Times located HERE

Wong follows Ip Man's life from wealthy young student of martial arts and practitioner of the wing chun fighting style (he declares his first 40 years to have been his "spring") to the Japanese invasion of China in 1938 and his subsequent struggle to support his family, his forever-chaste relationship with Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang), the highly skilled daughter of the former grandmaster, and Ip Man's rise in esteem as a formal, serious teacher ("Kung Fu is not a circus act" he offers quietly when discussing looser, street-theater fighting). And it's clear early on that the director cares less about exact historical events than how the man in the center of it never wavered from his chosen path as life threw its harshest blows. In both the martial arts challenges Ip Man accepted from opponents and in the historical upheavals that altered his destiny, he remained constant and upright.

Excerpt from Dave White at located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Grandmaster on Blu-ray is an exquisite feast of beauty with Philippe Le Sourd's cinematography, the heavy-emphasis on impressive art direction or Wong's frequent slow-motion realization within scenes. It is infused with lighting tints or masked with heavy rain. The 1080P seems to have a slight blue-leaning but there is plenty of depth and close-ups are remarkable in their detail. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate. It is pristinely clean and I see no digital manipulation in the transfer. The film's contrast produces rich atmospheric images and the higher resolution advances these qualities. Like the film, or perhaps because of it, the Blu-ray video is very impressive - often more like art than film - the HD transfer has allowed the film to express itself in stunningly attractive ways.

NOTE: IMDb notes this as the "108 min (heavily cut)" version. There is also a 130 minute version and a 122 min (international) version.


















Audio :

The audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2553 kbps. This is healthy enough to push the many effect sounds around the sound stage with separations zapping and pinging from all corners of your home theatre. It is fairly crisp but depth is not a demonstrative attribute in the sound department for this film. Nathaniel Méchaly (Taken) and Shigeru Umebayashi (2046, The House of Flying Daggers) composed the score which benefits from the lossless transfer heightening moods in running beside the film with expert precision. An English-language DUB is included in simple Dolby. There are optional subtitles (sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked although the film is available in region 'B' on Blu-ray.


Extras :

There are a number of video supplements including the 23-minute The Grandmaster: From IP Man to Bruce Lee which looks on the historical references of the film. We get a 7-minute conversation with Shannon Lee - the daughter of Bruce Lee as well as 5-minutes of The Grandmaster - According to RZA (Robert Fitzgerald Diggs of the Wu-Tang Clan.) But the meat of the extras focuses within a 50-minute Behind the Scenes piece with footage during production and sound-byte snippets from cast, crew and director. It has informative moments imparting some knowledge as to the extent of production detail that went into achieving Wong's singular vision.



I enjoyed The Grandmaster as the abundance of rich, meticulous placed, style reminded me so much of Wong's "In the Mood for Love". This seems a return to the director's brilliantly visual film... just in a new genre. It's a real treat to sit through - often fearing it will end too soon. The Blu-ray
is flawless and,  since it has such sweet eye-candy, it would seem the only way to view such a mesmerizing film experience in your home theatre. I can see myself revisiting this, and showing to friends. Yes, we recommend!

Gary Tooze

March 1st, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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