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Educational Value: 3/10


2013. Rated PG-13. 108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes). The Grandmaster is loosely based on the life of Wung Chun master Ip Man. Chinese with English subtitles. With no sex or nudity, and violence contained to choreographed martial arts fighting scenes, this film is safe for classroom viewing.

History teachers will find very little historical information to recommend this film, save brief glimpses of the Japanese invasion, and the flight of mainland Chinese to Hong Kong following World War II. The real value of this film is in getting students who enjoy martial arts interested in modern Chinese History. It's a good movie to play on a high absenteeism day, or for parents at home. The film tells the story of Ip Man (also known as Yip Kai-man, 1893-1972), Wing Chun Grandmaster, who popularized martial arts at his Hong Kong school, teaching such notable students as Bruce Lee.

Vocabulary terms: banquet, challenge, character, collaboration, collusion, concealment, defeated, exile, generosity, grandmaster, hostilities, kung fu, martial arts, occupation, opponent, precision, rickshaw, sheath, starvation, successor, technique

Questions: (1) What is the Gold Pavilion? (2) Who is the Grandmaster of the North? (3) Who is Gong Yutian's successor? (4) What country invades Foshan in October, 1938? (5) Who became a Japanese collaborator during World War II? (6) Where did Ip Man move after World War II? (7) On what grounds does Ma San refuse to fight Gong Er? (8) What is the name of the Gong family's style of kung fu? (9) How does this film demonstrate the importance of filial piety in traditional Chinese culture?

Creators and Stars: Benshan Zhao, Chen Chang, Cung Le, Elvis Tsui, Haofeng Xu, Hye-kyo Song, Jingzhi Zou, Kar Wai Wong, Qingxiang Wang, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Xiaofei Zhou, Yixuan Wu, Ziyi Zhang
Learn more about Wung Chun (Yongchun Quan or Yongchun Chuan) here.
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The character of Gong Er, played by Ziyi Zhang, is loosely based on Shi Jianqiao (c. 1905-1979), who defied traditional Chinese gender roles by avenging the murder of her father at the hands of a Chinese warlord, Sun Chuanfang, in 1935. We think that Shi Jianqiao (born Shi Gulan) deserves a movie of her own.
"The Grandmaster" Movie Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: December 19, 2013, by Ms. Fox.