I love the London Film Festival's tradition of a surprise film. The sense of anticipation and the wild speculation beforehand always gets me excited for the screening, even if the film that ultimately plays is occasionally a bit of a disappointment. I'm looking at you, Capitalism: A Love Story.
The film which played this Thursday as the surprise film was definitely a surprise. But unfortunately not a welcome one.
Festival director Clare Stewart came out to introduce the film and in a break with tradition actually revealed what the film was before the opening credits began. A special video introduction played, with Wong Kar-wai informing us that we were about to watch The Grandmaster. Then Clare Stewart introduced Harvey
Scissorhands Weinstein, who told us that we were about to watch a "kick ass" movie.
What he didn't say was that we were going to watch a dumbed down, butchered and frankly dreadful version of what was, in its original cut, a beautiful, moving and exquisitely paced film.
Weinstein did make reference to the cuts though. Screen ran some quotes from the event,
This is the love, joy and amazing relationship that Kar Wai has with space, time and memory in this movie….We tried to keep it as chronologically as we could and at the end of the day, who gives a shit? It's beyond belief watching the artistic cinema that he did.
Who gives a shit, Mr. Weinstein? Well, I do. And I know a lot of other people that do too.
The cut which Harvey Weinstein presented and favours doesn't work in a number of ways – I'll be detailing these many ways in an article soon, I assure you – and when compared to the longer cut, it's clear quite how dreadful the changes are.
The original, longer cut of the film was released in Hong Kong in January and came out on Blu-ray a couple of months later. I imported the Blu-ray from YesAsia as soon as it was available and I would strongly urge anyone who wants to watch the film to do likewise.
The Grandmaster still has no UK release date. And when we do finally get it, it will be the hacked up, overly-explained mess of a cut.
Just import it. Trust me.
You can thank me later.