The Grand Grandmaster 乜代宗師 (2020) - Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Despite popular Cantonese stand up comedian Dayo Wong’s most honest intentions, his second directorial effort in “The Grand Grandmaster” is really one big mistake after another. The film is constantly lagging in its overdue jokes, comic timing is often turned off and a rather subdued Wong does not help the entire proceeding. The only saving grace comes in the form of Annie Liu in her first physical role as a professional boxer who more than looks the part with the heavily punches and buffed up muscles. With all the hype surrounding the film, Wong falls miserably to make a film for Hong Kong people and clocking at 120 minutes, the film is 30 minutes too long and by the end of the running time, the audience is exhausted by the prolong-ness and bored by the action on display.
Dayo Wong stars as the famous fake Kung Fu master who cons his way through life without knowing that he cannot fight. Wong is tries hard and it’s crystal clear that effort does not translate on-screen as the humor and jokes run dry and flat. Annie Liu flairs best as the pro boxer and lover interest, but the duo lacks crucial love chemistry and its difficult to imagine why Liu will suddenly fall over heels for Wong. Hui Siu-hung makes a welcome back appearance as the borderline annoying Liu’s dad. Meanwhile, Dickson Yuen provides some comic moments that simply drags for too long and too often.
All in all, “The Grand Grandmaster” is really a boring film that lacks the sparks and fight. The fight scenes aren’t exactly inspiring and the “be water” message is a constant overused. It’s rather unfortunate as Wong means well in making a film partly funded by the sale of his own apartment and just as his main character is a con artist who does not know Kung fu. The film looks good on surface and on paper and fails to deliver on almost all fronts.
I rated it 4/10