Winner of the Grand Prix at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, A Touch of Zen is a masterful martial arts film that is equally thrilling for its surreal visual beauty. The story, set in the Ming dynasty, involves a young scribe who befriends a woman living in an abandoned, and seemingly haunted, fortress on the edge of town. The mysterious beauty reveals that she is in fact hiding from the secret police, who have tortured and murdered her father. The weak-willed young man displays nerves of steel when faced with a band of vicious Ming police. London critic Alexander Walker writes, “It folds its violent story into a landscape of ultra-poetic refinement where the camera takes as much aesthetic pleasure in the quiver of a birch branch as King Hu does in bringing the Zen philosophy of ‘mind over matter’ to bear on the physical encounters….” —BAM/PFA
King Hu (traditional Chinese: 胡金銓; simplified Chinese: 胡金铨; pinyin: Hú Jīnquán, April 29, 1931 – January 14, 1997) was a Hong Kong and Taiwan-based Chinese film director whose Wuxia films brought Chinese cinema to new technical and artistic heights. It was his films Come Drink With Me (大醉侠, 1966) and Dragon Gate Inn (龍門客棧, 1967) which inaugurated a new generation of wuxia films in the late 1960s. He is also a noted scriptwriter and set designer.
Hu was born in Beijing to a line of well-established Mandarin family originated from Da Ming, Hebei. His grandfather was the governor of Henan in late Qing Dynasty. He emigrated to Hong Kong in 1949.
After moving to Hong Kong, Hu worked in a variety of occupations, such as advertising consultant, artistic designer and producer for a number of media companies, as well as a part-time English tutor. In 1958 he joined the Shaw Brothers Studio as set decorator, actor, scriptwriter and assistant director. Under the influence of Taiwanese… read more
The film which influenced Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the King of wuxia epics, featuring stunning cinematograpy and sweeping camera movements. If Mizoguchi had ever made a film in this genre, this is what it could have looked like.. TRIVIA NOTE: The familiar-looking actor playing the peaceful head Monk went on to play Chinese gangster Lao Che in the opening nightclub scene of Indy prequel Temple Of Doom..
Incredible. I watched it over two days just to let the epic that is A Touch of Zen last even longer. Somebody please restore this film.