A Touch of Zen (1971)
"Xia nü" (original title)

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Reviews: 27 user | 23 critic

A lady fugitive on the run from corrupt government officials is joined in her endeavors by an unambitious painter and skilled Buddhist monks.



, (story) (as Sung-ling Pu)
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Feng Hsu ...
Yang Hui-ching
Chun Shih ...
Ku Shen Chai
Ying Bai ...
General Shih Wen-chiao
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Billy Chan
Ming-Wai Chan ...
(as Ming-Wei Chen)
Ping-Yu Chang
Yi Kuei Chang
Yun Wen Chang
Shih Wei Chen
Roy Chiao ...
Hui Yuan
Ying-Chieh Han ...
Li Jen Ho
Chung Mou Hsieh
Han Hsieh ...
Dr. Lu Meng
Hsing Chun Hsu


An artist, Ku, lives with his mother near an abandoned fort, reputed to be haunted. One night, investigating strange noises, he meets the beautiful Yang who is living there. She is being pursued by agents of an Imperial noble who have murdered her family. Ku finds himself caught up in her struggle to survive, and many fierce battles take place before all is resolved. Action adventure with a lyrical feel, this is a kung fu film with a strong spiritual element. Written by Richard Hills <R.Hills@wlv.ac.uk>

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Release Date:

18 November 1971 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

A Touch of Zen  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


No. 9 in the Hong Kong Film Awards' List of The Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures See more »

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User Reviews

Not just action
10 April 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

"A touch of Zen", the English title is perhaps the only thing about this film that isn't beautifully and subtly conceived... This is a film about about ambition, perception, personality and what evil might be... it isn't really a standard action movie.

The storyline is highly compelling, but not rushed; the pacing is wonderfully handled, moving from the slow, almost lazy quotidian existence of the unambitious, scholarly protagonist to the fast paced, highly dynamic camera work of the action scenes. The shape of the film, perhaps the most amazing aspect of this 'masterpiece', starts with the small (even petty) and slowly ramps through the heroic to the iconic and finally to the divine. Each stage is a brief, often profound meditation on the nature of life and humanity of that state.

The cinematography is always lavish and startling, and, as with many of the Japanese films of the time, not afraid of a screen beautifully composed mostly of shades of darkness.

The martial arts displayed are never exhibitionary nor obviously proficient. This understated quality to the skills is sometimes disappointing (if that is why you are watching the film), but ends up being the best way to capture the the unknowable skills of some of the characters. As a matter of interest, a young Sammo Hung makes an appearance as a bodyguard and there are some other kung fu faces amongst the stunt men.

All in all, this film is profound and compelling. Well worth a watch

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