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[om]watch grandmaster/youre next online

Where everyone else sees the kinetic energy in kung fu, the filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai sees romance. But there is also a balletic precision, at least in “The Grandmaster,” an exquisite-looking, fitfully moving drama from the director of “In the Mood for Love.”There is the tension between ancient dynastic kung fu schools, and some audience members may find that less exciting than others. But “Grandmaster” has a lush scope and epic life story at its center. That helps balance the movie’s faithfulness to martial arts tradition while allowing for plenty of fists, and feet, of fury.The story is of Ip Man, a prophetic figure whose arrival united several styles of kung fu. The Ip family had taught in the southern province of China for generations, but in the 1930s, when Ip Man (Tony Leung) tried to merge the southern and northern provinces, the two were at odds.Wong’s visual grandeur is, as ever, all-encompassing. As with his underwhelming 2007 American debut, “My Blueberry Nights,” and his earlier, underappreciated future-set drama “2046,” the compartmentalized story is never at odds with the film’s operatic emotions. And Wong’s frequent star Leung remains measured and noir-ishly sardonic even in the one-against-an-army scenes.Those battles are refreshingly in hyper-crisp slow motion. More characteristically, the director devotes much of the movie’s final act to Gong Er, whose martial arts skills are abandoned when she becomes a physician in Hong Kong and, later, an opium addict slipping in and out of lucidity. Her brief reunion with Ip Man isn’t played large, but it’s a kick to the heart all the same.

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