By Shelly Kraicer
Chinese language director, critic, novelist, and pupil of Taoist martial arts Xu Haofeng has made at the least six fantastically crafted motion movies (5 launched, at the least one in Chinese language censorship limbo) since his wuxia debut The Sword Identification in 2011. 100 Yards, co-directed together with his brother Xu Junfeng, is about within the Republican period in Tianjin, a Western-semi-occupied treaty port the place French, US, British, and Italian powers ran their colonial enterprises.
That is the place the Xu brothers situate a semi-independent wushu academy, and island of autonomy in an occupied metropolis. The academy’s grasp has died, and two disciples, performed by Hong Kong American motion actor Andy On (noble, with a screen-friendly quiet charisma) and Hong Kong motion star Jacky Heung (a razzle dazzle martial arts showman, with scene-stealing brio) repeatedly battle it out for supremacy. There are intrigues, and critical consideration paid to varied gongfu and wuxia methods (a key “lacking” Fourth Palm sequence turns into a key to victory) because the closed world of the wushu academy, repeatedly failing to comprise its disputes inside its partitions, threatens to spill its violence out into the Tianjin streets. Bea Hayden Kuo offers glamorous romantic/comedian aid, and newcomer Tang Shiyi is an actual discover: a sleek whirlwind of a fighter whose distinctive fashion of shifting is fantastically choreographed and recent and engaging to look at.
Xu Haofeng follows his regular apply right here, assigning specific “sensible” weight to his motion sequences: realism right here which means one thing like its reverse—they’re not truly preventing in any case, however making a simulacrum of preventing spectacle designed to be analyzed with medium and distant photographs and synthesized into one thing steady and legible with exact enhancing—that eschews “wire-work” and different CGI trickery, and post-production velocity variations. That’s good so far as it goes, and the struggle sequences right here (in contrast to, say Tsui Hark and Ching Siu-tung’s magically transportive sur-real variations on gongfu and wuxia, or King Hu’s reconstructions of area and time by means of lightning-quick cuts), keep even, steadily rhythmic, with out the sort of massive showy crescendos and climaxes that may beam these actions, nevertheless briefly, into the imagined our bodies of movie viewers like us. However what the administrators are in search of is a extra analytic, considerate sort of wushu: motion as a transmission of ideology, stored right here extra neatly beneath the floor than in a few of Xu Haofeng’s earlier movies, which bore a visibly heavy conceptual load that could possibly be a difficult to grapple with. It’s refreshing, lately, to see a censor-approved Chinese language motion movie whose ideological dedication is directed, not in the direction of imaginary intensive nationwide initiatives, however in the direction of the integrity of independently outlined and individually cast morally grounded communities.
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