A gorgeous, heartfelt, touching, beautiful, funny, warm romance disguised as smut. It's frankly incredible how Strickland took one of the more disreputable genres in cinema and turned it, with plenty of playfulness and thoughtfulness, into a deeply felt look into romantic relationships, the give and take they require, and the joy and hardship that results. A truly wonderful film, and unexpected in just about every way.
Just subtly off-kilter enough to be discomfiting without me noticing that I was ever so slowly moving toward the edge of my seat. The flat performances clash wonderfully with the heightened style, and everything is just so weird that it almost prepares you for the strange turns the film takes. It's a bit longer than it should be, but it maintains such an off balance, nervy tone throughout that most thrillers could only hope to emulate.
Stunning. This might be a 10 on another viewing just because it is so knotty and there’s no way I caught everything that is wonderful about this film. But I caught a lot. Best blocking of any film ever? Probably. Best sunglasses? Definitely. This is a goddam motion picture, folks. And please, my God, anyone who is planning to make a movie that makes use of space (every movie ever), please study how this film makes sure that we know exactly where everyone is in relation to everyone else at all times. Study that tailing scene in the streets! Study it!
[review of festival cut]
Suddenly not so angry that there are multiple cuts to this film as it is clearly a case of a really good movie struggling to be told. The shots are there, I think, but there is something off about how it is put together, rhythmically and otherwise. It wants to be about Ip Man, it wants to be about Gong Er, and revolutionary/civil war China, and the golden age of Chinese martial arts, but by doing…