With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, June 03, 2016

THE FINAL MASTER reviewed; opens today in New York and Los Angeles

United Entertainment Partners
 The Final Master
Written and Directed by Xu Haofeng
Starring: Liao Fan, Song Jia, Jiang Wenli, Jin Shi-Jye,
Song Yang and Huang Jue
China, 2015, 109 minutes
In Mandarin with English Subtitles

The Final Master is a terrific martial arts film that opens today in New York and Los Angeles, with a wider release to follow. It was written and directed by Xu Haofeng, who wrote the award winning screenplay for Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster (2013).

The film is set in the early 20th Century, after the last emperor was deposed and the Republic of China was established. Liao Fan (Black Coal, Thin Ice) plays Master Chen, a Wing Chun practitioner who travels from southern China to Tianjin, then the mecca of martial arts, in the north. There he hopes to establish a school.

Liao Fan as Master Chen

Chen must face the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that the heads of Tianjin's established schools place before all newcomers. To succeed, Chen not only trains the local youth who will represent his school against eight opponents, but also secretly trains Zheng Shanao (the Taiwanese actor Jin Shi-jye who known for his roles in The Grandmaster, Brotherhood of Blades and The Guillotines). Shanao is the lead practitioner of all the various martial art schools in Tianjin.

There's action aplenty, particularly knife fights. Because of the intricate footwork and steps, Xu has said that "rather than following the common Hong Kong action films style of quick edits and flashy dance-like moves, The Final Master is filmed with long, full-body shots." This permits one to really see what's going on and to appreciate the high degree of kung fu on exhibit.

AsianCinefest rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

Here's the list of the cities, theaters and opening dates where The Final Master is scheduled to play:
- New York (June 3): Court Street UA, AMC Empire, Village East Cinema, College Point Multiplex (Flushing), AMC Stoneybrook.
- Los Angeles (June 3): AMC Century City, Landmark, Burbank AMC Town Center, Arclight Hollywood, Arclight Pasadena and more.
- New Jersey (June 10): AMC Starplex and AMC New Brunswick
- Boston (June 10)-Manchester Boston Common
- Washington DC (June 10): AMC Rio

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