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The Go Master

2006 1h 44m Drama List
63% Tomatometer 16 Reviews 46% Audience Score 500+ Ratings
A Chinese man masters the game of Go. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

View All (16) Critics Reviews
Andrew Pulver Guardian With no attempt made to even explain the basic rules of Go, this is essentially a study of forehead-kneading concentration, of how to shut out even the most tempestuous of world events. Rated: 3/5 Mar 28, 2008 Full Review Stella Papamichael This soporific stupor and final pinch of defeat is the experience that most fully equates with watching this film. Rated: 2/5 Mar 28, 2008 Full Review David Parkinson Empire Magazine Chang captures Wu's dedication and respect for a game whose intricacies reflect the vicissitudes of his own life. Rated: 3/5 Mar 27, 2008 Full Review Pamela Jahn Electric Sheep ... an elegant biopic with sufficient psychological complexity to draw audiences deeply into the characters' lives. Sep 26, 2017 Full Review Matthew Turner ViewLondon Rated: 2/5 Oct 18, 2008 Full Review Jamie Russell Total Film The rapturous camerawork and Chang Chen's performance as Wu both delight, but there's little insight into what makes a game about white and black pebbles so utterly absorbing. Rated: 3/5 Mar 28, 2008 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (56) audience reviews
Audience Member Wu Qingyuan (The Go Master) (Zhuangzhuang Tian, 2006) There are touches of Yasujiro Ozu in the way Zhuangzhuang Tian sets up a number of his shots in this film, and that can never be a bad thing; Ozu, one of Japan's masters of slow film, knew how to take the most rudimentary scene and make it into something exquisite, and any director who tries to follow in those footsteps is probably going to end up with something better than he otherwise would have. On the other hand, if you've read any random half-dozen of my movie reviews, you are probably well aware that 99% of the time, when I use the phrase "very pretty" to describe a movie, it's in the pejorative. A movie can be very beautiful indeed, but when the filmmaker also intends that movie to have substance (unlike, for example, Brakhage's exquisite "Window Water Baby Moving", which is just meant to be beautiful), he can make a film as pretty as he wants, but if he misses the mark with his substance, the movie will end up feeling off. And such is the case with Wu Qingyuan, which is a very pretty thing indeed, but also a very flawed one. Plot: Wu (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Chen Chang) is a Chinese national raised in Japan; his lifelong dream, since he discovered a talent for it at a very young age, is to be the best Go player in the world. And if you're going to be a championship Go player, there's nowhere to be but Japan. Which is all well and good...except for Wu being in the wrong place at the wrong time on a tremendous scale. The movie, which is based on Wu's autobiography, takes place in the early thirties, as Japanese nationalism takes hold, and Japan turns its military might upon its closest mainland neighbor-China. Wu, and many of those around him, including his gaming contemporaries and the people who run the various boardinghouses at which Wu stays during the film, attempt to ignore the growing prejudice against the Chinese. Unfortunately, it breaks into their routine all too often, threatening on a regular basis to derail Wu's Go-playing career. Qingyuan Wu is still alive; he celebrated his ninety-ninth birthday about two weeks before I started writing this review. He stopped playing Go in 1964 after suffering nerve damage in a motorcycle accident in 1961, so the movie's final title card tells us (and the Wikipedia entry on Wu confirms), but (spoiler alert!, though it happens after the end of the movie) he did in fact realize his dream: Wu is considered one of the greatest Go players of the 20th century, having achieved 9 dan status in 1950. I'm telling you all this because you're probably not going to get it from the movie. Tian has done an excellent job at setting the scene, and the sound is wonderful (if you've read the Hikaru no Go manga and always wondered exactly what the "clack" sounded like...). The actors do the best they can with Cheng Ah (Hibiscus Town)'s impressionist script (to date, the last he has written), but there simply isn't a great deal there about the two subjects that are going to raw most people to this film: Qingyuan Wu, the person (as opposed to Qingyuan Wu, the Chinese guy stuck in Japan at the time of the Manchurian invasion and all the Unit 731 goings-on), and the game of Go. So I'm back where I started: it's a very pretty, but shallow, thing. ** 1/2 Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review Audience Member Remarkably slow. It's actually just a story told in a linear timeline. Nothing special about that. The grandeur of the person involved and the accurate description of the atmosphere make up for all of that. For a non go lover it may be a bit hard to get through though. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/25/23 Full Review Audience Member Go Seigen is well acknowledged as "go master" in eastern Asian countries. Go, a tradition game related to binary game theory, has been shown as soul of many athletic sports. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/13/23 Full Review Audience Member This biopic of 20th century greatest Go master, reveals the intensity of life achievement through art in Japan. This film is clearly under rated. Nonetheless I do believe that explaining the deep influence of Wu Qingyuan in modernizing Go strategy would have been a big plus. Not a must see unless you play and like Go (as I do). Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member This movie has very little going for it. Rated 1 out of 5 stars 02/01/23 Full Review Audience Member One of the more confusing movies I've seen recently..... Rated 1.5 out of 5 stars 01/28/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Go Master

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Movie Info

Synopsis A Chinese man masters the game of Go.
Zhuangzhuang Tian
Xiandian Liu
Cheng Ah, Jingzhi Zou
Original Language
1h 44m