1971 • Hong Kong • Directed by King Hu
Widely regarded as the greatest martial arts epic of all time, A Touch of Zen won awards worldwide (including at Cannes), smashed box-office records and had an incalculable influence on the genre as a whole.
An unambitious painter named Gu (Shih Jun) lives with his mother in the vicinity of an abandoned mansion rumoured to be haunted. In actuality, the mansion has become a hiding place for the warrior Yang (Hsu Feng) and her own mother, both taking refuge following the assassination of their loyal minister father by the wicked eunuch Wei of East Chamber. After the eunuch sends an army to pursue the escapees, the group fortify the mansion with traps and false intimations of the terrifying ghosts within. But even after, things take yet more unsettling turns…
Famed for its iconic set pieces, including the central bamboo forest battle, A Touch of Zen is one of cinema’s truly peerless action sagas and the precursor par excellence of such modern wuxia films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers.