A Touch of Zen 1971 Criterion Collection
Unambitious and dull Ku Shen Chai (Chun Shih) helps support his elderly mother (Cheung Bing-yuk) by painting portraits in the village square. One day a stranger shows up in town and asks Shen Chai to paint his portrait. Around the same time, Shen Chai and his mother befriend a mysterious woman (Hsu Feng) who has moved in next door. What they don’t know is that that woman, Yang, is a fugitive from the law, and the stranger has come to apprehend her and deliver her to archaic and prejudiced justice system. The fact is, Yang’s father had tried to warn the Emperor about a corrupt official in his government, and now that official wants to wipe out the man’s family, which of course includes Yang. Shen Chai enters into a relationship with Yang, after which he is transformed into a different, much stronger person, one who isn’t afraid to plot the deaths of others to protect the woman he loves.

A milestone in martial arts cinema, A Touch of Zen is King Hu's most acclaimed and ambitious film.

Inspired by the aesthetics of Japanese samurai films, this poetic three-hour epic brought Chinese cinema to new technical and artistic heights, revolutionising the martial arts genre and influencing the works of directors like Tsui Hark (Swordsman II) , Ang Lee (Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and John Carpenter (Big Trouble in Little China).

A Touch of Zen has been named as one of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Best Films. It also won a special technical award at the Cannes Film Festival and is one of the first Chinese films to gain recognition in the international film festival arena.


• "King Hu 1932-1997", a documentary from 2012 about King Hu, directed by Hubert Niogret. With interviews and film clips, this piece covers King Hu's career from his early work as a set designer, then through his acting and directing career, along with discussion of his production techniques and his place in film history. (47:59)

• 2016 interviews with lead actress Hsu Feng (13:47) and lead actor Shih Chun (17:27), both of whom discuss their working relationship with King Hu. The portrait that emerges is a combination of affection, respect, and intimidation. He could be a demanding taskmaster and work with him was both emotionally and physically grueling as he ordered endless re-takes on productions that lasted years at times.

• 2016 interview with director Ang Lee (13:35) provides a different appreciation. Lee arguing that Hu may have been the first director to introduce a style-conscious approach to commercial Chinese filmmaking; at the very least, Lee contends that Hu made the first "art-house" wuxia films.

• New interview with Tony Rayns, a film historian who has spent much of his career studying films from East Asia. (34:05)

• Trailer (1:41)

BD50 | 1080p AVC | 02:59:59 | 44.1 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Chinese
Subtitles: English

Related posts:

  1. Out 1, noli me tangere / Spectre / Don’t Touch Me (1971) 4 x DVD9
  2. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) 2 x DVD9 and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection
  3. The Jacques Rivette Collection: Out 1, noli me tangere (1971), Out 1: Spectre (1972), Duelle (une quarantaine) (1976), Noroit (une vengeance) (1976), Merry-Go-Round (1981) 8 x Blu-Ray Arrow Academy Limited Edition
  4. Chung Hing sam lam / Chung King Express / Chungking Express (1994) DVD9 and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection
  5. Suna no onna / Woman in the Dunes (1964) Blu-Ray Criterion Collection