We have two WUXIA-Classics by King Hu in our Programm:
DRAGON INN, Tsao, the emperor’s first eunuch, has successfully bested General Yu, his political opponent. The general was beheaded and his remaining children have been exiled from China. As the children are being escorted to the western border of the Chinese empire, Tsao plots to have the children killed. Tsao’s secret police lie in ambush at the desolate Dragon Gate Inn. Martial arts expert Hsiao shows up at the inn, wanting to meet the innkeeper. Unknown to the secret police is that the innkeeper, Wu Ning, was one of the general’s lieutenants and has summoned Hsiao to help the children. A brother-sister martial-artist team (children of another Yu lieutenant) also show up to help. These four race to find Yu’s children and lead them to safety.
A TOUCH OF ZEN,
The story is largely seen through the eyes of Gu, who is a well-meaning but unambitious scholar and painter, with a tendency towards being clumsy and ineffectual. A stranger arrives in town wanting his portrait painted by Gu, but his real objective is to bring a female fugitive back to the city for execution on behalf of the East Chamber guards. The fugitive, Yang, is befriended by Gu and together they plot against the corrupt Eunuch Wei who wants to eradicate all trace of her family after her father attempts to warn the Emperor of the eunuch’s corruption. His daughter fled, and Abbot Hui intervened to protect them.
The stranger, Yang and her friends are all superior warriors. The stranger has a special flexible sword that bends and that he can wear within his belt, making him seem unarmed.
One of the unique aspects of the film is that Gu is a non-combatant all the way through the film and only becomes involved when he sleeps with Yang. Upon doing so, he is no longer the naïve bumbling innocent, but instead becomes confident and assertive, and when Yang’s plight is revealed, he insists on being part of it – and even comes up with a fiendish „Ghost Trap” for the East Chamber guards. This is a plan to use a supposedly haunted site to play tricks on the guards to make them believe they are prey to the undead. He first spreads rumours of ghosts, with his mother playing a part. The film then briefly uses split-screen with six separate views to show the spread of these rumours.
In the aftermath, Gu walks through the carnage laughing at the ingenuity of his plan until the true cost of human life dawns upon him. He sees Abbot Hui and his followers arrive to help bury the dead.
After the battle, Gu is unable to find Yang, who he is told has left him and does not want him to follow her. He tracks her down at the monastery of the saintly and powerful Abbot Hui Yuan, where she has given birth to a child by Gu and become a nun. She tells Gu that their destiny together has ended and gives Gu their child. Later, when Gu and the child are tracked down by Hsu Hsien-Chen, the evil commander of Eunuch Wei’s army, Yang and Abbot Hui come to Gu’s rescue. In the ensuing battle, Hsu is killed and Yang and Abbot Hui are badly injured (the latter bleeding golden blood). The film famously ends with the injured Yang staggering towards a silhouetted figure, presumably Abbot Hui, seen meditating with the setting sun forming a halo around his head, an image suggesting the Buddha and enlightenment.
DRAGON INN (Die Herberge zum Drachentor | 龍門客棧 / 龙门客栈 Lóngmén Kèzhàn) TW 1967 111 Min. OmU
A TOUCH OF ZEN (Ein Hauch von Zen | 俠女 Hsia Nu) TW 1971 180 Min. OmU
Trailer Dragon Inn
Trailer A Touch of Zen