THE GRANDMASTER

This is one of my favorite movies of the last several years. It's like a dream come true for Wong Kar Wai to make a kung fu film. The action, choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, is, naturally, flawless. And the filmmaker is the master of the unrequited love narrative. So much understated passion. I don't think Hollywood could ever achieve the same remarkable restraint, from which the film derives so much of its emotional impetus. The cinematography is also exceptional--every shot could be a framed still. Kar Wai evokes the stylized posters of women in Shanghai in the 30s to perfection. The stars, Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung, are not only exquisite to look at, but also play their roles impeccably.

Additionally, I've always maintained that the Chinese are the masters of infusing philosophy into their action movies and this one is no exception. There are jewels like "Do you know why a knife must have a sheath? It's real power lies not in its sharpness, but in its concealment." But I found the following words that Zhang Ziyi's father shares with her to be the most moving and resonant. I've written them in the form of verse because they are that poetic:

I once had a temper like yours:
Winning was everything
But life's bigger than that
Take a longer view
Past the mountains the world opens up
Not to see the good in others,
not to admit their talent,
is to lack generosity
Our high standards in martial arts
Apply to character as well