Two bitter rivals (Jacky Heung and Andy On) duel for stewardship of a wushu academy, in this cool and calculated martial arts caper from Xu Haofeng (The Sword Identity, The Final Master).
Xu Haofeng, Xu Junfeng
With respect to the martial arts genre, writer, director, and choreographer (not to mention celebrated novelist and Taoist scholar) Xu Haofeng is in a class all his own. There are few contemporary filmmakers of the genre who devise their duels with a comparable level of authenticity and grounded technique, and fewer still who are able to so evocatively imbue such dense symbolic weight to their characters’ every stance, weapon, and fighting style. A fight in a Xu Haofeng film is both a dance and a conversation, each movement pregnant with philosophy and sly wit, and each bout more enthralling and illuminating than the last.
Written and directed in collaboration with Xu Junfeng, this latest martial saga is set in 1920s Tianjin, China. Upon the death of a well-respected martial arts master, two students become bitter rivals as they vie for ownership of his academy. One is the master’s top apprentice, Qi (Andy On), the expected heir to the school. His challenger is the master’s son, Shen (Jacky Heung), whose future was meant to be outside the martial arts circle, were it not for his obstinate passion to pursue his father’s practice. Their dispute is to be settled in combat, but its outcome stirs only malcontent and, as the challenges between the two fighters multiply, customs become stretched and broken to the scandalized shock of their wushu community.
Further featuring slingshot gangs, secret scrolls, eccentric weapons, and a touch of whimsical romantic melodrama, 100 Yards is a stylish martial arts caper, simultaneously stoic and playfully funny in its coolly composed yet thrillingly percussive execution.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: violence