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The Go Master (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) DVD Region 3

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The Go Master (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

The latest film from celebrated Fifth Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang (The Blue Kite, Springtime in a Small Town), The Go Master shines a light on the life and times of Wu Qingyuan. Better know by his Japanese name Go Seigen, Wu is considered the greatest Go player of the 20th century, his talents bringing him from his native China to a professional career in Japan when he was only a teenager. Based on Wu's autobiography, this elegantly shot and remarkably restrained biopic follows the life of a singular figure, fascinating not only for his genius and achievements in the game of Go, but also for his unique experiences as a Chinese man in Japan during an immensely turbulent period in history. Acclaimed Taiwanese actor Chang Chen (Three Times) portrays the titular role in a subtle, poignant performance that is as penetrating as it is opaque, underlying the brooding lyricism of the film. The Go Master co-stars Sylvia Chang, Matsuzaka Keiko, Emoto Akira, and Ito Ayumi, and Wu Qingyuan himself appears briefly in the film's prologue. Also of note is the film's costume design, which is by renowned designer Wada Emi (Ran, Hero, House of Flying Daggers).

With the breakout of the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, Wu Qingyuan (Chang Chen) and his family are thrown into an uncomfortable and dangerous position as Chinese nationals residing in Japan. While Wu's family returns to China, he chooses to stay behind in his adopted country to continue to pursue the game of Go. In the quiet recluse of his school, there are no politics, only the singular dedication to his art and the love for his wife Kazuko (Ito Ayumi). However, the chaos of the times eventually forces him out of his enclave, throwing his life and mind into conflict. Wu joins a cult in a sober pursuit of faith and his own ongoing battle to come to terms with himself.

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Technical Information

Product Title: The Go Master (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) 吳清源 (DVD) (香港版) 吴清源 (DVD) (香港版) 呉清源 極みの棋譜 (呉清源) (DVD) (香港版) The Go Master (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
Artist Name(s): Chang Chen (Actor) | Sylvia Chang (Actor) | Matsuzaka Keiko | Emoto Akira | Ito Ayumi 張震 (Actor) | 張艾嘉 (Actor) | 松坂慶子 | 柄本明 | 伊藤步 张震 (Actor) | 张艾嘉 (Actor) | 松坂庆子 | 柄本明 | 伊藤步 張震(チャン・チェン) (Actor) | 張艾嘉(シルビア・チャン) (Actor) | マツザカケイコ | エモトアキラ | 伊藤歩 장첸 (Actor) | Sylvia Chang (Actor) | Matsuzaka Keiko | Emoto Akira | Ito Ayumi
Director: Tian Zhuang Zhuang 田壯壯 田壮壮 田壮壮(ティエン・チュアンチュアン) Tian Zhuang Zhuang
Release Date: 2007-08-02
Language: Japanese, Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese
Place of Origin: Hong Kong, China
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Sound Information: DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Digital EX(TM) / THX Surround EX(TM), DTS-ES Discrete 6.1
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 3 - South East Asia (including Hong Kong, S. Korea and Taiwan) What is it?
Rating: IIA
Publisher: Deltamac (HK)
Package Weight: 120 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1004827538

Product Information

* Sound Mix: DTS 6.1ES, Dolby Digital 6.1EX

Director: Tian Zhuang Zhuang



Wu, a native of China, emerged as a prodigy who, at a young age, moved to Japan and rose to prominence as the top Go player in the world. In Japan, Wu overturned the established traditions and strategies of this ancient game, earning multitudes of fans and enemies along the way. Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous Sino-Japanese history of the 20th century, he remained in Japan in spite of the politics and continued his passion for the game. Wu never returned to live in China again, making him a controversial figure in both countries. Now well into his 90s, he continues to reside in Japan playing Go, writing strategy books and living the life of THE GO MASTER.
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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "The Go Master (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

July 30, 2007

Directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang (The Blue Kite), The Go Master tells the real-life story of Wu Qingyuan, a genius Go player whose talent for the game was so profound that he was whisked away from his home in China and transplanted to Japan, where he began to compete in professional Go matches. Chang Chen stars as Wu Qingyuan (called Go Seigen by his adopted Japanese homeland), whose rise in the world of Go is chronicled in unglamorized, yet elegant detail. Wu begins his Go career in Japan along with his family (consisting of Sylvia Chang and Betty Huang), but the rise of Sino-Japanese tensions impel them to head back to China to escape any possible retribution in Japan. But Wu remains, continuing his almost single-minded pursuit of the game of Go. Wu meets the love of his life, Kazuko (Ayumi Ito), when he joins a messianic cult, after which his loyalties begin to change. Wu eventually decides to leave the game of Go, citing his devotion to his religion, but many events draw him back. His religious leader wishes for him to return to playing to help promote their beliefs, while his teacher (Akira Emoto) has long hoped for his return to the game. But real life seems to take its toll on the isolated, emotionally-adrift Wu Qingyuan, leading to an existential personal crisis, and possibly madness.

Audiences with short attention spans had best steer clear of The Go Master. The game of Go is not for the impatient anyway (a single match can last as long as a few months), and its elegance and intellectual fascination are not imparted on the audience at all, which could be viewed as a detriment to the picture. Without a clue as to how Go works, unfamiliar audiences may wonder why people are spending so much time sitting at a block of wood playing a game that looks like Othello. Of course, Go is vastly more popular in East Asia than in the rest of the world, and The Go Master is not a film for casual audiences anyway. Tian Zhuangzhuang is very hands-off in his approach to his subject matter - so hands off, in fact, that it's almost impossible to discern an active viewpoint in the film. The Go Master is not concerned with editorializing the life of Wu Qingyuan. Sure, the guy joined a cult, but the experience is presented matter-of-factly, and without any judgement. The film is concerned with Wu Qingyuan only, his personality and experience, and any and all events presented in the film simply depict what he went through. Based on his own autobiography, the film uses subtitled excerpts from Wu's own printed work to flesh out the occasional expository voiceover. The Go Master is just telling us how it was, either factually or filtered through the subject himself. The point of view is respectful, but unrevealing. Wu Qingyuan may be a genius and a legend, but his daily life is so bereft of action that he seems to be forever lost in thought. Unfortunately, typical movie audiences can't read minds.

Without a point of view to lean on, the audience may find itself, like the title character, to be a bit adrift. Wu Qingyuan is not a very active person. He seems frustratingly insular, and doesn't seem to relate to the world in an overt fashion. Contemplation is Wu Qingyuan's primary action, with both Go and with life, and the effect is ultimately loneliness, and a quietly desperate madness. Tian Zhuangzhuang reveals the character through action and events, and not through words. The technique at play here is almost invisible; the storytelling is elegant and quiet, taking on a languid and possibly dull quality. There's no tension or action here, just scenes from a man's life as he quietly struggles with change, both external and internal. There's no narrative drive, no bad guys or good guys. Meaning isn't created here by a series of actions; rather, each moment has its own meaning and exists as part of a greater tapestry, from the disruption of a Go game due to the bombing of Hiroshima, to a moment where Wu silently weeps at a roadside. In the end it's all supposed to lead us somewhere.

Or is it? Each moment suggests immediate meaning, but a greater, conclusive meaning is hard to ascertain. If any defining theme can be ascertained from The Go Master, it's that Wu struggled his whole life simply to figure out his own existence. Wu seems to forever be going through the motions, and never appears to do anything with a sense of purpose or desire. His existence seems almost abstract, and bereft of anything resembling material or physical satisfaction. Moments of humanity do come through - at one point, Wu admits to missing his wife terribly, and the moment is played up as a large revelation for him. Wu appears to be silently stretching for something greater in the distance, but what that is always seems to elude him. Chang Chen marvelously underplays as Wu Qingyuan, and rarely ever appears to be acting. Every gesture or mannerism from Chang is a part of Wu Qingyuan's personality, from his affected walk to his silent observation of the Go board. It's a part that's revelatory in its economy, and that same credit can be given to the film as a whole. The Go Master is disarmingly simple, but the beauty lies in its quiet details and authenticity. The negative here is that the film may be too passive, refusing to ever truly show the audience why Wu Qingyuan and his story should matter. But, unlike Wu's contemplative quest for meaning, The Go Master never seems to imply that any meaning truly exists. It's a film that reveals in each and every moment, and not in its final fifteen minutes. That could be too much - or perhaps too little - for some audiences. The Go Master doesn't announce its relevance, which is why it probably appears to have little. However, simply observing may be enough.

by Kozo -

Editor's Pick of "The Go Master (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

Picked By Sanwei
See all this editor's picks

July 31, 2007

The Art of Subtlety
While his fellow Fifth Generation auteurs have been busy cooking up dubious, over-the-top period epics, Tian Zhuangzhuang continues to practice the art of subtlety with his latest masterpiece The Go Master. Quiet, elegant, and slow-burning, The Go Master is simply and directly a biopic of master Go player Wu Qingyuan. With neither judgment nor fanfare, the film follows the extraordinary life of a Chinese man, whose genius in the game of Go brought him to the shores of Japan during the early 20th century. In order to continue playing, he chose to remain in Japan during the Sino-Japanese War, but his struggles with faith and self would lead him to join a cult and even briefly give up Go.

The Go Master is in many ways an extremely simple and clear film, and yet it is one that may leave many lost. The film presents moments both common and crucial in a sensitive, sedate, and straightforward manner, while always remaining a respectful distance. Tian seems to connect all the dots, but he is essentially drawing lines with his finger, leaving no trace behind to guide the viewer. The Go Master is a difficult film, not because anything shown on screen is unclear, but because Tian makes no judgment on his subject, leaving the viewer alone with the task of understanding Wu Qingyuan. And he is not an easy man to understand.

In the world of Go, Wu Qingyuan is a legend, an unparalleled player who dominated in the field and dedicated his life to the game. But Go isn't exactly basketball, and much like the game itself, Wu's passion for his calling and his way of life are cloistered in silence, obstinacy, and introspection. He is not so much unconcerned with the world around him, but disconnected, frustratingly reticent and unemotive save for certain affectations and occasional revelations that hint of the complicated and troubled man within. It is almost impossible to draw any conclusions about Wu, because he can't seem to figure himself out either. Chang Chen is nothing less than remarkable in bringing humanity and identity to such an amorphous role, slowly bringing the character out of isolation to, if not a point of understanding, at least a point of connection with the viewer.

Is Tian making a statement in his nonstatement? The director once suffered a huge toll for saying too much, banned from filmmaking by the government after his politically charged The Blue Kite. The Go Master has as backdrop a very significant and sensitive period in Chinese and Japanese history, and Wu's experiences and decisions during this time lend easily to discussion and dissection. He is after all a Chinese man who made Japan his home, stayed in the enemy country during the war, became known to the world by a Japanese name, and placed Go above nationalism, or in the very least nationality. With The Go Master, Tian returns to a political setting with an apolitical lens, focusing mainly on the personal experience, inner struggles, and Go matches during a time when one would imagine physical suffering and external conflicts were pretty big concerns. Just as Go is purely Go for Wu Qingyuan, untainted by war, race, and politics, this film is purely a film.

From the crisp beauty of the photography and costumes to the magnitude of Chang Chen's performance, there is something unadulterated and cinematic about The Go Master. And there is something grand also in the minimal direction, the way the film seeks to simply present. Of course, not every viewer will appreciate Tian's storytelling style, but it is hard to deny the film's elegance. The Go Master is one of the most beautiful films I've seen this year, and much more.

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