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2012 || CHINA || 94 mins || Color || Feature




Rome 2012 - CINEMA XXI


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.
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.
A martial arts film that explores the philosophy behind the art of archery.


Song Yang
Yu Cheng Hui
Li Chengyuan
Zhao Zheng


An art house kung fu movie may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it is the only fair way to describe this ambitious production, with its remarkable art work, spectacular locations, fine cinematography, lively musical score and featuring a number of interesting themes…Though the film never makes it clear how interested this Judge Archer is in any aspect of justice, it certainly explores his fascination with the opposite sex… Judge Archer and several of his opponents are given ample chance to display their dexterity at kung-fu duels…


Successful author and screenwriter of the upcoming (and highly anticipated) The Grandmasters by Wong Kar-Wai, gives a new approach to the genre with his film JUDGE ARCHER… The vision of the martial arts film of Xu Haofeng is geared to realism, a rejection of visual spectacle and exaggeration, but also the extreme no-frills staging… His raw style gives great space to the unsaid, both visual and narrative. The dialogue, as well as the action sequences, are reduced to the essentials: the actions and passions of the characters, are held back and then let to explode, similarly to what happens in the fighting… His original and unconventional vision will certainly continue to produce interesting results for those who have the disposition to grasp aspects of novelty and depth.

— Marco Minniti, MOVIEPLAYER.IT (Italy)

Continuing along the lines undertaken with The Sword Identity, Xu Haofeng look at the martial arts with a philosophical perspective… Judge Archer is far from just an action movie in the classic sense, and recalls vaguely certain atmospheres of Wong Kar Wai’s Ashes of Time… Narrated in a mild, reflective pace, often placing the story in a slow flow of time broken only by abrupt action scenes of very short duration… Judge Archer takes a look at the martial arts world with a 'philosophical' and introspective eye… full of originality… In his second try, Xu Haofeng proves he has the good stuff as a director, as well as the courage to take a different slant on a genre so well established and recognized...

— Massimo Volpe, LINKINMOVIES.IT (Italy)

Entertainment at the highest level… a fascinating and spectacular martial arts story impeccably directed… After the excellent debut The Sword Identity, Xu Haofeng is back with the extraordinary Judge Archer… Directed with the utmost expressionism, Judge Archer redefines the wuxia genre with a relentless unusual realism, yet holding onto the action and the visual grandeur of the genre… With Judge Archer, Xu Haofeng offers a brilliant work glowing, whose heightened esthetics are highlighted by the perfect orchestration of the film’s elements: the moving force of history, inspired imagery in the composition of the shots, convincing performances by the whole cast, and the right amount of melodrama and violence.

— Caterina Gangemi, RADIOCINEMA.IT (Italy)

In The Sword Identity, Xu Haofeng made a radical work of rarefaction and abstraction, filming a sort of anti-wuxia, somewhat marginal, stripped of the standard dizzying choreography of the genre… Now, with Judge Archer, movement summarizes the importance and fulfillment of wuxia, speaking in concise bodily gestures… Broken down into a series of lines and paths and then rebuilt in another composition, the film seems to be cubist. Still remaining on an intellectual level, but with a wonderful, paradoxical link to life, as moments show that everything can be subjected to forced stylization.

— Aldo Spiniello, SENTIERI SELVAGGI.IT (Italy)

A film for those who appreciate technical perfection (in both cinema and martial arts)… Not at all heavy or too long, the martial arts duels are indeed precisely the strength of the film: hypnotizing and captivating in that inexplicable way that only the arts of oriental combat can give. An almost inhuman precision in the movements of the choreography is combined with a crisp picture and staging sharp as a sword, which accompanies and enhances every scene…
The cult moment: the final duel with the old master.

— Tiziana De Amicis, SUPERGACINEMA.IT (Italy)