Chinese martial arts guru explores realistic Kungfu world

China's martial arts wizard Xu Haofeng will bring fresh air to the Kung Fu world with his new film, "The Master."

Xu said at an advance screening event held on Tuesday at the China Film Archive in Beijing that the film aims to portray a realistic vision of the martial arts world, and he trained actors in Kung Fu before shooting the film.

He defined the phrase "jianghu" as the world of liars. The word, in a Chinese context, is often used to describe a mundane society where swordsmen and heroes live and fight for justice. In reality, jianghu is a violent place born out of the marginalized sectors of society and is controlled by gangsters.

To shoot the film, Xu sent actors to learn real Kung Fu. Award-winning actor Liao Fan trained for two months and the results were wonderful. "The Master" never used martial artist doubles. Xu required actors to fight for real themselves.

The film also abandoned traditional wire-assisted choreography, which meant that no one flew or jumped incredibly high as in previous Kung Fu films. It has no special effects, either. Rather, 800 professional martial artists were hired and used in the film. The action choreography in the film is also very simple, direct and powerful, which is different from the exciting, complicated and eye-popping choreographies in other traditional martial arts films. For all the above reasons, it received the Best Action Choreography Award at the 52nd Taipei Golden Horse Awards in November.

Xu, a legend in China's martial arts world, has various identities as a film director, screen writer, martial arts novelist, film critic and martial arts scholar as well as practitioner and tutor at the Beijing Film Academy. He is best known for writing the screenplay of Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmaster," which earned him the Best Screenplay Award at the 33rd Hong Kong Film Awards. His novel "Monk Comes Down the Mountain" was adapted and directed by director Chen Kaige this year and made box office success. In 2011, Xu helmed and penned the screenplay for his directorial debut "The Sword Identity" and in 2012 Xu wrote and directed "Judge Archer." The new film, "The Master" will cement his status as a master and trailblazer of new style martial arts films in the modern Chinese movie industry.

"The Master," based on an award-winning novel by Xu Haofeng, stars Liao Fan, Da Song Jia, Jiang Wenli, Huang Jue, Jin Shijie. The Film tells a story about how a Wing Chun master wants to open a martial arts school in Tianjin and trains a talented apprentice, but gets involved in a series of political wrestles and conspiracies. The film will hit Chinese theaters on Dec. 11, 2015.

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