Epic biopic explores life of martial artist Ip Man

BERLIN — Wong Kar Wai’s epic martial arts drama “The Grandmaster” will open the Berlin Film Festival, which runs Feb. 7-17.

Set in the tumultuous 1930s in China, “The Grandmaster” was inspired by the life and times of legendary martial artist Ip Man, who became a mentor to Bruce Lee.

Exploring themes of war, revenge, love and desire, the film stars Wong regular Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Ip; Ziyi Zhang (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), Chang Chen (“Red Cliff”); Zhao Benshan (“Happy Times”) and Xiao Shengyang (“A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop”).

“The Grandmaster” will screen out of competition, but as part of the official selection.

“It is a special honor for us to open the 2013 Berlinale with the presentation of the newest film by this year’s jury president, Wong Kar Wai,” said Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick. “With ‘The Grandmaster,’ Kar Wai has added a new and exciting facet to his body of work, and created an artful, visually powerful genre film.”

Wong, who will also preside over the fest’s international jury, added, “I am truly very honored by Dieter and his invitation for my new film … to participate in the 63rd Berlinale and to open the festival. This is a dream project for me that I had been developing for many years. I am very happy to be able to present it in Berlin. I was already greatly looking forward to my returning to Berlin to serve as the president of the international jury, so seeing ‘The Grandmaster’ presented there will make it all the more special for me.”

Written and directed by Wong, “The Grandmaster” was produced by Block 2 Pictures, Sil-Metropole Organisation and Jet Tone Films.

The pic premieres in China on Jan. 8 and opens in Germany this spring via Wild Bunch.

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