The Grandmaster

by Mark Forman on April 17, 2017

There's a couple of streams running in parallel inside my head at this moment: The Grandmaster by Wong Kai War and Damn by Kendrick Lamar now also known as KungFu Kenny. The former is a movie directed by Hong Kong's famous auteur and the latter the newest release by perhaps hiphop's greatest rap artist alive. While the Grandmaster is not Wong's greatest or most iconic film it is stunningly beautiful even beyond his other films because of the classical Chinese element present in the story-line and how it guided his cinematography (Academy Award nominee: Philippe Le Sourd) and styling. The visuals take preeminence over the story telling although as one who has lived in Asia for 30 years I know that the more minimal storytelling is consistent with Asian's preferred sparseness with words feeling that there are elements that everyone already knows so don't need to be restated. In any case it's a beautiful work so if you haven't seen it make sure you do. The KungFu and martial arts elements are presented in a more classical and beautiful way than most KungFu movies. The main character in the Grandmaster is Ip Man the master/teacher of superstar student: Bruce Lee and many others.

Damn has been percolating in my head over the last few days. I have even been listening with earbuds on which I haven't done in quite some time to try to better absorb K Dot's dense rhymes and their nuance while simultaneously enjoying the lush arty production and his excellent vocal contortions which bring his aural characterizations to life. My son introduced me to Kendrick a couple of years back. Initially,  I didn't really make time to get acquainted with him in as the conceptual nuanced artist that he is. It probably wasn't until I watched the GQ interview conducted by Rick Rubin (video below) that I realized this young guy is really bright and has something to say and the means to say it. So Damn is his first work that I'm experiencing as it dropped while being on KungFu Kenny's bandwagon. I would agree with the assessment of his more committed fans that he is the only rapper. If you value substance over style Kendrick and Damn are certainly worth giving some time too. If you want both substance and style-Kendrick and Damn are it.