Whanganui Film Society travels to China for this week's screening.

Wong Kar-wai's 2013 film The Grandmaster [Yi dai zong shi] is a stylised Chinese period piece, dripping with nostalgia, that tells the stories of two lovers kept apart by fate.

The film is rich in stunning fight scenes, choreographed by the godfather of Hong Kong kung-fu cinema, Yuen Woo-ping. But for director Wong, the fight scenes aren't the point, in the way that they are in ordinary martial arts movies. They're plot devices or punctuation marks, tools for extending the poetic manner of The Grandmaster into space.

Writing for Salon.com, reviewer Andrew O'Hehir had this to say: "Martial-arts cinema has always had a lot in common with ballet, and this film almost erases the distinction by deliberately smashing the genre's veneer of masculinity. Of the three most important fights in The Grandmaster, only one ends in conventional fashion... One is an intensely romantic pas de deux, which ends with Gong Er and Ip Man barely avoiding a passionate kiss. In the philosophical and generational standoff between Ip and Gong Er's father, the venerable Northern kung-fu master Gong Yutian, which serves as the movie's philosophical centerpiece, there's no physical violence at all."


The Grandmaster will screen at the Davis Theatre at 7pm on July 4. You must be a Whanganui Film Society member to attend this screening.

For more information, including memberships, see www.whanganuifilmsociety.org.nz.