8.5/10. Must be seen to be believed, A TOUCH OF ZEN is a surprising mashup of martial arts camp and sincere spirituality. Visually stunning with beautiful locations and masterful use of light and shadow. The fight scenes are stylistically unique with many fast cuts -- a bit disorienting at times. Probably will require a second viewing to get a better feel for the film.
From secular to sacred leitmotifs (spider webs to sunlight), a panorama of existence in personal (Gu), political (Yang) and spiritual (Hui) meditation is explored by erudite, uber-auteur King Hu, his aesthetic iconography of Zen Buddhism, both symphonic and operatic, outshines all Abrahamic religions in transcendental righteousness, tapping past the hubris of humanism and into a well of profound esoteric power.
Magnifiquement photographié, un classique du genre auquel on se réfère systématiquement, qui a donné ses lettres de noblesse aux films d'arts martiaux, par ses incroyables chorégraphies combattantes, la conjonction entre une romance des plus classiques et une constante poétique de l'image à connotation fantastique. www.cinefiches.com
3.7 ...seen with Western eyes in 2017... Everything feels a bit unbalanced: it starts with a very slow first act (a lot of running around in the empty fortress) and ends on a 70s psychedelic note. Strange... Multiple pleasures in between: the versatile editing and the ever moving camera among them.
Widely considered to be King Hu's best film, A Touch of Zen is a feast for the senses. The cinematography is nothing short of astonishing and the gravity-defying action sequences are impressive even by today's CGI standards. But I would argue that a story as simple as this one could have been told in under 200 minutes, even if the penultimate scene in the forest almost makes the three hour investment worth it.
Do, do, do believe the hype. One of the great films of the seventies. Towers above all other traditional wuxia I have seen. And more than a touch of that there zen. Clearly an absolutely staggering amount of patience, discipline, artistry, and group cooperation went into making this theoretically impossible thing emerge as an actual thing you can actually watch. Criterion Blu-ray is beyond fantastic. Wow.
Essential cinema. King Hu's masterpiece may well be the greatest 'wuxia' film ever made and has influenced a score of filmmakers ever since. Leisurely paced throughout the film casts a spell on the viewer and one is as impressed by the calm as the flashes of violence within. Technically the film is aces as well with memorable cinematography, editing and music.
Some elements feel familiar, be it from other wuxia films or Westerns, but its huge scope and ambling narrative momentum make it feel so distinctive. If the politics become a bit distracting and abstruse, there is plenty else to make up for it, like the film's warm spirit, touches of humor, and graceful cinematography. A fascinating experience, with distinctive rhythms and textures.
Develops narratively & cinematically towards powerful, thematically motivated ends. From dark spirits to the light of Dao. Fog and lighting mesmerize as nature and accelerating montage build up resonance, leaving one in awe of a profound film demanding of multiple viewings. 92/100 - Amazing.
Web of intrigue. "A Touch of Zen" is the rare wuxia film that centers itself not on the martial guardians who drive the story, but an outsider who serves as our audience surrogate. Viewing the kung fu intrigue from this remove, the plot recedes into the background as one realizes King Hu is far more interested in the indifference of the natural world, and the thin barrier separating the spiritual plane from our own.
Nirgendwo gilt ein Prophet weniger als im eigenen Land. King Hu, der grösste Meister des Hongkong Films musste das am eigenen Leib erfahren. Deshalb gilt er heute als vergessener Klassiker. mehr auf cinegeek.de http://cinegeek.de/touch-zen-ein-hauch-von-zen-xia-n%C3%BC-rating-89-dvd8061