Interview With Xu Haofeng Director Of ‘The Final Master’ Opening in NY/ LA/ BOSTON / DC June 3 and NJ June 10
I am a fan of Martial Arts movies and I was not disappointed with ‘The Final Master’ by award winning director Xu Haofeng. In this film adaptation of his acclaimed short story, THE FINAL MASTER, the last torchbearer of Wing-Chun Master Chen seeking to pass down his art is caught in a power struggle with local officials and must choose between what is right and what is expected in order to fulfill his destiny. Lead actor( Liao Fan) craftily embodies humor,elegance, drama and skillful fighting in this visually stunning film. Each scene is designed like a gourmet meal, filling the senses with sight and sound. The beautifully choreographed fighting scenes are so precise that at times I found my self holding my breath in fearful anticipation. Xu brings us the classic story of choices asking the question:how far do you go to pursue your dream and what are you willing to sacrifice?
Master Chen is caught between wanting to leave a legacy behind and deciding how to do it without sacrificing all that he holds dear. Director Xu Haofeng also gives us a glimpse of a culture steeped in tradition showcasing values and messages about class and politics which rings true in today’s modern world. But for me ‘The Final Master’ is a lesson in learning to love.
I had a chance to chat with director Xu Haofeng about ‘The Final Master.’
RG-What would you like the audience to come away with after seeing your film?
Xu-I would like the audience to have fun and enjoy the humor: showing the chinese culture and how they deal with issues through humor. And to show the importance of martial arts in that period and its influence on Chinese culture.
RG-What is one of the misconceptions the western world has in regards to Asian Martial Arts Film?
Xu-I think the West tends to think that the motivation to fight in some of these films are childish, so in my film I attempt to show a more mature adult society with issues that propels the characters to make choices that would motivate them to fight.
RG– The actors had just great chemistry, how did you make your casting choices?
Xu-It all begins with a good story then I reach out to the actors and let them read it. In fact the main two leads Mr. Chen( Liao Fan), (Mrs Chen) Song Jia are good friends for over 10 years and also familiar with each other’s work so they brought their love for each other to the scene, but it was funny after shooting some of the intimate scenes they felt so uncomfortable since they are not lovers in real life.
RG-How did you work with your DP (Wang Tianlin) to get such visually stunning shots?
Xu-My DP and I went to the same film school (BeijingFilm Academy) and is six years older than me but he understood the scope of the shots I wanted and was able to deliver. We all know each others work and we work well together so every thing came very natural. He was one of the first to bring very commerical shooting style to China but I didn’t want that. I wanted grand sweeping shots, calm shots, exciting shots and cinematic lighting, he understood that and gave me exactly what I envisioned. When the film showed in China the audience could not understand the look because they are so used this commercial style of shooting. But in Japan and France the audience loved it.
RG-What did you learn doing this film?
Xu– The hardest part was the choreography with the knives. I had to learn how to work with the short knives and the methodology.
About Xu Haoefeng
Xu Haofeng is a Chinese director, producer, screenwriter, professor and writer. He is best known for his best-selling novel, Monk Comes Down the Mountain, and his award-winning screenplay for Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster. The film won Best Screenplay in the 33 Hong Kong Film Awards, and was selected as Hong Kong’s submission for the Best Foreign Picture in the Academy Awards. In 2014, Xu published a critically acclaimed novella The Master, which became the basis for his 2015 film THEFINAL MASTER. The film is the official selection of 2016 Seattle International Film Festival and was nominated for 2015 Golden Horse Awards Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Action Choreography. The film won Best Action Choreography.
New York (June 3): Court Street UA, AMC Empire, Village East Cinema, College Point Multiplex (Flushing), AMC Stoneybrook.
Los Angeles (June 3): AMCCentury City, Landmark, Burbank AMC Town Center, Arclight Hollywood, Arclight Pasadena and more.
Boston (June 3)- AMC Boston Common 19
Washington DC (June 3): AMC Rio
New Jersey (June 10): AMC Starplex and AMC New Brunswick