Born in 1973, Beijing, China, Xu Haofeng began learning martial arts when he was 14. He first started in Xingyi Quan, a martial arts style centered on bare-handed fighting. As he continued his study of martial arts, he entered Beijing Film Academy for film directing. He has since become a lecturer in his alma mater's Directing Department.Upon graduation in 1997, he sought apprenticeship with two martial arts masters, one of whom inspired him to write the biographical novel, The Bygone Kung Fu World. After learning about the master's stories and gathering historical evidence, he published the novel in 2006, selling over 300,000 copies in its first run.In 2007, Xu follows up with martial arts fantasy Monk Comes Down the Mountain in 2007, which became a best-seller. Its popularity garnered the interest of filmmaker Chen Kaige, who adapted the novel into a film of the same title in 2015. The film earned US$38.25 million in its 4-day opening weekend in China, becoming one of the highest grossing opening weekend in China. It was further selected to be China's film submission to 2015 Golden Globes Foreign Films Category.In 2011, Xu debut as film director with The Sword Identity, which premiered at the 68th Venice Film Festival to generally positive reception. The following year, he was approached by Wong Kar-wai to be a screenwriter for The Grandmaster. The film won Best Screenplay in the 33rd 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 of the same title. The film was released in China and Taiwan in December 2015 to generally favorable reviews from critics. The film received 8.1/10 on Douban and 7.8/10 on Mtime, the leading film ratings websites in China. The film was nominated for 2015 Golden Horse Awards Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Choreography. The film won Best Choreography.