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Wong Kar Wai Headshot

The Journey of The Grandmaster

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On this coming Friday, my newest film, THE GRANDMASTER, will be released in the U.S. This is actually the third incarnation of the film, which we shot in 22 months over the course of 3 years. While each of our previous international debuts was thrilling, I'm very proud of the latest version that will be screened in American theaters. Perhaps not surprisingly, people have asked me about the reasoning behind re-editing the film, questioning why I chose to alter it from earlier iterations.

As a filmmaker, let me say that the luxury of creating a new cut for U.S. audiences was the opportunity to reshape it into something different than what I began with -- a chance one doesn't always get as a director and an undertaking much more meaningful than simply making something shorter or longer. The original version of THE GRANDMASTER is about 2 hours, 10 minutes. Why not 2 hours, 9 minutes or 2 hours, 11 minutes? To me, the structure of a movie is like a clock or a prized watch -- it's about precision and perfect balance.

We always knew that we wanted to have a U.S. version that was a bit tighter and that helped clarify the complex historical context of this particular era in Chinese history, focusing further on the journeys of Ip Man and Gong Er. While the previous version was more chronological, adding narration and captions to explain certain plot points gave us the freedom to bring more life to moments in the characters' stories. I also aimed to enhance the audience's understanding of the challenges faced between North and South, especially during the Japanese invasion.

All that being said, I was never interested in telling a watered down version of THE GRANDMASTER in the U.S., or just trimming to cut back minutes -- it had to be a creative, sharp and honed vision. I was even able to add in substantial footage -- beautiful footage -- that was not in the original release. Ultimately, I worked to envision the most perfect clock or the essence of marital arts itself; it is all about precision and balance.