Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dragon Inn (龍門客棧), A Touch of Zen (俠女) at Row House Cinema in September.

The Row House Cinema recently announced two King Hu movies, 1967's Dragon Inn (龍門客棧) and 1971's A Touch of Zen (俠女) as part of its Kung Fu Cinema series from September 23 to 29. A RogerEbert.com review summarizes the former:
"Dragon Inn" (1967), a genre classic that has been often-imitated and directly remade twice, is to the martial arts genre what "Stagecoach" is to the Western. Writer/director King Hu ("A Touch of Zen") made "Dragon Inn" right after he completed "Come Drink With Me," an equally thrilling and essential 1966 action-adventure that would go on to be a major influence on "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Hu cherry-picked some elements from "Come Drink With Me"—particularly from the portion of that earlier film that takes place in a secluded desert tavern—and distilled them to perfection. "Dragon Inn" is such a lean film that you never have to wonder what motivates the characters. It's an archetypal narrative: the children of a newly-executed Minister of Defense flee to the Dragon Gate Inn, but are met by an army of evil eunuchs, leaving it up to a quartet of heroes to save them from an unjust death. Hu evokes an entire world in his awe-inspiring wide-angle camerawork and graceful, still-unpredictable action scenes. Now modern viewers can enjoy "Dragon Inn" in a new 4K restoration that makes Hu's classic look appropriately majestic.
And a 2006 New York Times review summarizes the latter:
Hu never made a better wuxia adventure than “A Touch of Zen” (1971), the first Chinese entry to receive an award at the Cannes Film Festival. An epic tale of a young woman fleeing a corrupt Ming dynasty governor, the movie was initially shown in two parts, over Hu’s objections. Now, Film Forum presents the uncut three-hour version in a print that features vividly green bamboo forests, balletic fighting monks and Hsu Feng, one of cinema’s fiercest warrior women. As an opening credit notes, Ms. Hsu, who would act in numerous King Hu movies before becoming a film producer herself, paid for the digital restoration of her mentor’s greatest work.
The 1976 Times review has a different take, writing that "that familiarity can also breed a touch of annoyance with a standard approach to the genre."

Two more films will be announced later, as will ticket information and showtimes.