A Touch of Zen
Hu King / TW, 1970 / 185 min.
King Hu is a master of the martial arts cinema. A Touch of Zen is a majestic blend of ghost story and political thriller, featuring numerous classic wuxia fighting scenes. The Taiwan Film Institute recently restored three major works by King Hu, now presented for the first time in all their glory by EYE.
In A Touch of Zen a woman fleeing from the secret police is aided by a Buddhist priest. The long shots of elegant fights and the sumptuous nature shots prepare the viewer for a memorable and metaphysical apotheosis that raised the film to the status of an absolute martial arts classic. The most legendary scene is that of a sword duel in a bamboo forest, which inspired Ang Lee to produce a similar scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Hu”s stunning visual feat was made for the mainstream market, but rejects the strident commercialism of Hong Kong”s film industry. The extraordinary editing and photography turned A Touch of Zen into a milestone of the martial arts genre. It was the first title in the wuxia genre to receive international recognition. Filmmakers like Ann Hui, John Woo and Tsui Hark are great admirers of Hu”s work and would later expand the stylistic innovations introduced by Hu. A Touch of Zen won the Technical Grand Prize Award at the Film Festival of Cannes in 1975.
Introduction (in English) by Doris Yeung (Cinemasia) on June 4th.
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