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The Final Master (Blu Ray) [Blu-ray]
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Following the death of his teacher, Chen She (Fan Liao) journeys to the martial arts capital of the world: Tianjin. To open his own kung fu school, he must first train a disciple and defeat eight of Tianjins fighters, a challenge that takes at least three years.
Chen encounters the talented but dangerous Geng Liangchen (Yang Song) and after just one year the greatest martial artists are challenged. But when personal ethics conflict with the masters rules, some must be betrayed and others with die.
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Well it's hard to say what it's about, but it's what I would consider "post-modernist." It's very terse, at times dramatic, and at times humorous, and at times satirizing the conventional martial arts story. The story line is simple enough. It's the early 1900's, and a martial arts master, simply named Master Chen, moves to Tianjin (a city bordering Beijing) to found his own school, in the hopes of passing down his knowledge before he can no longer fight. He's already in his late 40's. In Tianjin, a cartel of martial arts schools control the martial arts business. They don't want competition. To found his school, Chen must train a pupil who can defeat the champions from the other schools. This would earn him a license to open his school. That's the basic story, but the movie delves into many other themes that I won't explain here.
Technically, it's great. The fight scenes are extremely realistic (there's nobody flying off roofs here), and the dialogue is lean and minimalist. The cast is also surprisingly diverse also, ethnically speaking. I also didn't have any problems with the English subtitles.