Wong Kar-wai’s long-gestating biopic about martial arts legend Ip Man (1893-1972) is sumptuously designed and full of characteristically poetic effects, but it’s also dramatically inert and difficult to follow. The U.S. release version, which is roughly 20 minutes shorter than the one that played in China, is particularly confusing—in his effort to streamline the history for American viewers, Wong has made the movie resemble the sort of conventional period spectacle he clearly had no interest in making. The biggest disappointment may be that Wong, for all his genius in capturing fleeting sensations, seems adrift when it comes to presenting kung fu. The action choreography (by the great Yuen Woo-ping) feels oddly rhythmless; likewise, Wong’s depictions of the larger-than-life characters achieve little emotional resonance. With Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi. In subtitled Mandarin and Cantonese.