Wong Kar-Wai's 'Grandmasters' Bumped to 2013

Wong Kar Wei - P 2012
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The long-awaited martial arts epic from the Hong Kong auteur will bow in China in early January, followed by a possible international premiere at the Berlin Film Fest.

HONG KONG – Amidst rumors of ongoing additional shoots, Wong Kar-wai’s martial arts drama The Grandmasters will now be released on mainland China and Hong Kong on Jan. 8, 2013 – three weeks after the original date.

Nearly 10 years in the making, The Grandmasters is set in 1920s and '30s China and revolves around a young Ip Man, the legendary martial arts expert who would later become the mentor of Bruce Lee. The film stars Hong Kong’s Tony Leung Chiu-wai (In the Mood for Love, Infernal Affairs) as Ip, and also features mainland actress Zhang Ziyi and Taiwan’s Chang Chen.

In June, The Grandmasters were slapped with a Dec. 18 release date on mainland China, with a Hong Kong opening confirmed later for Dec. 27. When reports of Wong still filming additional scenes appeared in the local media last week, one of the film’s co-producers, Sil-Metropol's Song Dai, insisted Wong’s film would hit Chinese cinemas “within this year."

But a spokesman for the production confirmed the 2013 release date, which first appeared on a new series of publicity poster. The delay is to “give directors enough time to release his energy," said the publicist to the newspaper Apple Daily.

Wong has been well-known for spending a long time finishing his films and his tendency of not adhering to production deadlines. The most legendary episode was in 2004, when the director was still working on the editing of his Cannes entry 2046 days before the premiere of the film; copies were reportedly transported to the cinemas straight from the labs.

Rumors of a Cannes berth for The Grandmasters have been circulating for years, so the announcement this summer of the film opening in December – which meant the absence of a world premiere at any of the main film festivals – was a surprise.

With Wong serving as head of the jury at Berlinale 2013, however, expectations are high for The Grandmasters to make its international premiere as an out-of-competition entry at the festival. There were even rumours of the film making its way to Cannes in May in some altered form – and Wong has had a previous record of achieving this, when he unleashed the “redux” version of his 1994 martial arts film Ashes of Time on the Croisette in 2008.