Art, Entertainment

The Final Master is badass, stylish, and fun

To honor his dying master’s wishes and start a martial arts school in Tianjin, Wing Chun master Chen Chi (Liao Fan) must train an apprentice to defeat 8 of the city’s 19 kung fu masters. That’s a lot of fights to line up over 109 minutes, but writer and director Xu Haofeng (who also penned Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster) manages to weave in a unique cast of side characters, their respective back stories, and plenty of double crossing to boot.

It all happens so fast, Chen finding a local beauty to be his wife (Song Jia) and recruiting and training a street urchin to be his student (Song Yang). And so does the fighting, with plenty of flashing knives but also fantastically shaped spears and battle axes and the largest swords you’ve ever seen. Blood splatters minimally and gravity is heeded, but the sound effects were like metal machine music to my ears. What is cooler than scraping blades?

Tianjin turns out to play a big part in the movie, as well, not only possessing a complicated system of rules for those who wish to ascend in the martial arts scene but local pride regarding living there, dying there, and being a woman there. It’s harsh but no one wants to leave.

Old school kung fu movie fans will love the straightforward premise as well as the lack of wire work and simple, organ-driven soundtrack. Non-fans of the genre will appreciate the high production value, sophisticated look, and sense of humor. It’s badass, it’s stylish, and it’s fun.

See The Final Master at Atlantic Times Square.

AMC Atlantic Times Square 14
450 N. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park

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