Woo-ping Yuen and Tony Leung Appear at HKU and Talk about ‘The Grandmaster’

February 20, 2013 Updated: October 1, 2015
Tony Leung Chiu Wai attends 'The Grandmaster' Press Conference during the 63rd Berlinale International Film Festival at the Grand Hyatt on Feb 7, in Berlin, Germany. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Recently, Woo-ping Yuen, Jiayong Liu and Tony Leung attended the seminar of “The Grandmaster” at the University of Hong Kong. They talked about the spirit of martial arts that was conveyed through the movie and emphasised that the moral integrity of martial artists was the embodiment of the traditional Chinese culture.

Woo-ping: Every Scene Contains Something Special

The Grandmaster” tells the story of the Wing Chun master Ip Man and other martial artists. Being regarded as one of the best martial arts director, Woo-ping said that Ip Man was the true grandmaster in his heart. He said that before the movie started to shoot, the movie director Kar-wai Wong had done research on different schools of martial arts, including Tai Chi and Bagua schools, etc. In regard to the martial arts actions, Kar-wai would discuss with him before designing the actions, if there wasn’t a script.

Woo-ping also said that “The Grandmaster” was different from his previous movies in its style and content. Because Kar-wai was an artistic director, he required the actions in every scene to have something special. For example, the first scene in which Ip Man was fighting in the rain exhibits the strength and beauty of martial arts.

Jiayong Describes the Grandmaster

The other martial arts director, Jiayong Liu, said that a martial artist should have moral integrity. He used the waist belt of martial artists as an example: “If a martial artist’s waist belt is loose, he looses his momentum. Therefore, a martial artist always has his waist belt on. This is like Kung Fu, as well as being a person, you must have your momentum and righteousness. So you can be called a grandmaster.” He repeatedly stressed that “one waist belt, one momentum” is the true reflection of the older generation of martial artists.

In addition, he pointed out the difference between the Kung Fu performer and the martial arts world: “A person in the martial arts world knows how to do Kung Fu, but a person in the Kung Fu performing world commits cheat or swindle. But nowadays, the understanding was different and people mixed these two together.”

Tony Experiences the Martial Arts Spirit

Tony was well prepared before the filming of the movie. In addition to the one-year training of martial arts, his major work was to understand the martial artists. He said that according to his understanding, martial artists regarded Kung Fu as not only a physical exercise, but also a mind practice which was called “Mind Training, Mind cultivation.” That is to cultivate your heart and ultimately your being as a person. He also said that types of actions were limited, but the spirit was endless. Why can the Chinese martial arts be passed down for thousands of years? Is it only about fights? There are more meanings behind it.

“The Grandmaster” stars Tony Leung as Ip Man, Ziyi Zhang as Gong Er, Hye-kyo Song (Korean) as Ip Man’s wife and Zhen Zhang as Yixiantian. It was in preparation for eight years and filming took three years. The actors and actresses were also trained for years.

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