EYE Film Institute Netherlands will hold a seven-film-strong retrospective on the late auteur King Hu, a visionary maker of epic martial arts films, from May 30 through June 8.
Hu (1931 – 1997) lifted Chinese-language cinema to new technical and artistic heights with his graceful fights, magnificent nature shots, and stunning sword fights. His seminal 1971 film "A Touch of Zen" was also the first title in the wuxia, or martial arts, genre to gain international recognition.
This Amsterdam retrospective has chosen three films by Hu that have been painstakingly restored by the Taiwan Film Institute and its overseas partners, and an additional four titles that were collaborations or tributes to Hu by admirers of his work.
"A Touch of Zen" won the Technical Grand Prize award at Cannes in 1975, and the iconic duel in the bamboo forest was reenacted again in France when the film's digitally restored version was screened in Cannes Classics in 2015.
"Dragon Inn" from 1967 and "Legend of the Mountain" from 1979, which were previously circulated in worn 16mm prints or inferior quality videos, were also digitally restored in 4K resolution by the Taiwan Film Institute and the distinguished Italian laboratory L'Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna.
"Four Moods" is a 1970 omnibus of four supernatural films by Hu and Lee Hsing, Li Han-hsiang, and Pai Ching-jui. "Anger" ― a deft showdown among political schemers, avengers, and vagabonds ― is Hu's contribute to this portmanteau of ghost stories.
"A City Called Dragon," the first tribute film in the retrospective, is a thrilling action film by Hu's longtime assistant director Tu Chung-hsun. It has been touted as the missing link between "Dragon Inn" and "A Touch of Zen" as all three films feature the same thespians such as Hsu Feng and Chun Shih.
"A Touch of Sin," whose title is a strong reference to "A Touch of Zen," is a social drama, martial arts, film, and fable rolled into one by award-winning director Jia Zhangke. The escalation of violence by the four characters wreaking havoc like avenging angels also draws on the history of wuxia stories.
"Goodbye, Dragon Inn" is set in the final hours of an old cinema in Taipei that is about to close down after screening "Dragon Inn." This art house film by Tsai Ming-liang features two veteran actors who played in Hu's original sword-fighting film.
The King Hu retrospective at EYE is made possible with the support of the Taiwan Cultural Center in Paris, Taipei Representative Office in the Netherlands, and Taiwan Film Institute.
King Hu Retrospective at the EYE