Ziyi Zhang, star of the upcoming martial arts drama The Grandmaster, reveals how severe it was to work with kung fu master and choreographer Yuen Wo Ping for the upcoming film:
“It was very intensive because [director] Wong Kar-wei didn’t want us to pretend we know a little bit about kung fu — he really wanted us to be the master,” she tells EW about the six-month-long training process.
For this reason, we had to train many hours a day from 4 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. I had three different kung fu masters to train me. It was like boot camp.”
The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers actress had a particular challenge filming the “train-fight” scene, which was shot in freezing cold temperatures in northern China and took nearly three months to complete.
“This fight will be a classic. It took three months to shoot because it was extremely intricate; we had to pay great attention to every detail.
This all was made more difficult by the harsh cold weather. I couldn’t feel my hands and feet doing the scene.”
Producer Harvey Weinstein calls the scene “the best fight scene in cinema since the ‘Crazy 88s scene’ in Kill Bill” (also choreographed by Ping). Watch the clip below.
According to Zhang, her character Gong Er, who challenges kung fu master Ip Man to regain her family’s honor, has really resonated with women so far:
“The reaction from the female audience [so far] is that they praise this film and feel strong, identified.”
The Grandmaster hits theaters in New York and LA on Friday, August 23, with a nationwide release on August 30. See more photos from the film below.