THE SWORD IDENTITY Director Returns With JUDGE ARCHER: Watch A Trailer And Two Scenes

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
Director Xu Haofeng is an unusual one. Soon to be best known to audiences around the globe as the screenwriter of Wong Kar Wai's long anticipated The Grandmasters, Xu has a whole lot more in his repertoire. An acclaimed novelist and serious student of martial arts, Buddhism and Taoism, Xu approaches his films with a unique blend of grounded pragmatism - you'll never see anything in his fight sequences that wouldn't actually work - and philosophical rigor. While Chinese martial arts film are increasingly moving towards flash and style over substance, Xu is moving in the opposite direction, blending a deep love and knowledge of film with an even deeper knowledge and respect for the practice and philosophy of martial arts.

Xu's sophomore film, Judge Archer, is premiering at the Rome International Film Festival and the first trailer and two clips can be seen below.

Judge Archer resolves disputes between the various martial arts schools, but cannot settle his own family issues and romantic affairs. When he is entrapped in a failed assassination plot, his ethics are put to the test.

This is a martial arts film set in the early days of the Republic of China. It explores the traditions and customs of various martial arts schools and the philosophy behind the art of archery. It is a story about "telling right from wrong". The protagonist acts as an arbitrator amongst the rival martial arts schools. Every day, he judges who is right and who is wrong; however, he himself is confronted with the most crucial question - should he himself be subjected to social conventions? This is a story that praises personal integrity.

Judge Archer is the latest film by Xu Haofeng, one of the most promising young directors in China. As in his debut film, The Sword Identity, Xu takes a realist approach to the martial arts genre. Xu himself has practiced martial arts for years and clearly understands the difference between real fighting techniques and the artistic choreography presented on the screen. As a result, he does not indulge his audiences with fast pace and physical sensation. Instead, Xu shows the viewers the true nature of each fighting style. The moves demonstrated in the film are realistic yet original and incredibly powerful.

Song Yang, Yu Chenghui, Li Chengyuan, Yenny Martin and Zhao Zheng star.
Around the Internet:
  • paolone_fr

    since a movie (or cinema, in general) is not made only by the concept, the ideas behind it, I cannot help agreeing with people saying that sword identity is not a good movie. it has a strong concept, it shows rigour, but it lacks cinematic quality: characters depth, pace (or momentum), actor directing ability.

    it was definitely a screenwriter's film, cinema in theory not put in practice by someone able to translate his ideas in an effective way.

    from the trailer, judge archer follows exactly the same path, all concentrated on martial arts philosophy (according to xu haofeng of course) and not caring at all about fight coreography (the one-vs-many scene ideally mocking ip man's highlight is quite a ridiculous one, with white robe enemies standing in line to be beaten by the hero, like a flock of sheep) or direction.

    the question: is there really a need to revive vintage chanbara style (nothing so original to me in the approach of Xu, in fact) just to go against some idealized (because I do not see a real trend in flashy and stylish martial arts cinema, in general) trend? or maybe it is simple a different way to distinguish from the ""mainstram"" and get recognition in a closed niche prepared to acclaim you as novel and original, only because you are conceptual and you don't give a fuck (hostensibly) about style and cinematic quality?

    I tend to answer not really, and looks right like this, respectively.

  • Ivo Daniel Brito

    I loved "The Sword Identity", I think is one of the best martial arts movie in decades. This director style is stunning a mix of Kubrick, Kitano, Ford and an approach to action of a Japanese samurai movies like "Harakiri", and the "break" choreography of the Shaw Brothers Studios.

    The Sword Identity elevates the Martial arts genre to the height that it deserves, a movie truly about the martial spirit.

    And in the actual Chinese/Hong Kong martial arts movies?? It's an oasis.
    I expect this to be in the same vein.

  • rondertaker

    sword identity was fucking amazing. captured the spirit of chinese martial arts fiction more accurately than probably any film i've ever seen. highly anticipating anything this guy does.

  • Seasons

    I really liked Sword Identity as well and is excited that he is continuing down the same path. Love everything about the trailer. More of the same, but different.

  • cuttermaran

    There are people who liked Sword Identety? Wow......

  • Heijoshin

    Yes, yes and yes. It's not for everyone but you could say the same for
    Real Martial Arts. I dislike sports oriented martial arts tremendously
    (honestly I think they are a cancer to the real arts) and find MMA to be
    extremely boring and pointless. There are a lot of people that would
    say that Sword Identity was a poorly choreographed, poorly told story. I
    say that it is a very thoughtful and meaningful exploration of Real
    Martial Arts, the people who truly study them and what that means to
    those individuals. From the above article it would seem that Xu is continuing this trend with his next movie and I couldn't be happier.

  • Yep. I like it a lot. Xu has a totally unique approach to the martial arts genre, one that fuses the classics with spaghetti westerns visually and plays things completely, totally straight with the fighting.

  • Heijoshin

    Props to you sir.

  • I liked Sword Identity and this one looks interesting too.

  • Hejoshin

    I thoroughly enjoyed Sword Identity. I didn't feel like it was a mess of a movie at all. I had no problem following it. I felt a very real connection to the heart of martial arts in the film as well. That is a rare thing for me to find in movies. Judge Archer, from the trailer, seems to be following that same path. I'm really liking the stylistic choices that are being made in the action scenes in these films. I'm really excited to see this movie after watching this trailer.

  • RoboticPlague

    Sword identity was a mess of a movie.

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