The third of King Hu’s “Inn Trilogy” (including Come Drink With Me and Dragon Gate Inn, to be presented in August), The Fate of Lee Khan is set in 1366, near the end of the Yuan dynasty, when China was ruled by invading Mongol hordes. The action takes place in an inn in Shensi province where preparations are being made for the visit of Lee Khan, the lord of Honan province and head of a Mongol spy ring. Four Shensi revolutionary agents—Peony, Peach, Lilac and Chili—pose as waitresses at the inn and take care of an array of demanding or devious customers with dispatch before Lee Khan and his sister Wan-ehr finally arrive, as planned, to receive a revolutionary map from a traitor. Writing in International Film Guide 1978, Derek Elley calls The Fate of Lee Khan King Hu’s “masterpiece to date,” adding: “None of the other works quite so perfectly achieves that synthesis of movement and flow which rests at the heart of all his works; none of them are quite so sensually colorful and costumed (Hu, accurate as ever, used genuine antiques for Lee Khan and his sister’s clothes)…. The inn acts as a dramatic stage on which to reflect the social and political turmoil of the period, with conventions every part as demanding as those of Greek tragedy…. The film’s first section is a triumph of mood, a moto perpetuo of intrigue, comedy and everyday bustle…before the vital ingredient arrives in the form of Lee Khan and his lethal sister Wan-erh (the misty-eyed Hsü Feng…improving even on her charismatic performance in A Touch of Zen), with whom there ensues a life-and-death game of awesome skill and precision before the cards are finally laid on the table.” —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