7.6/10
3,797
28 user 52 critic

A Touch of Zen (1971)

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

Director:

Writers:

, (story) (as Sung-ling Pu)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The Eunuch of the Emperor has ordered the commander of his army condemned to death for betrayal and insurrection. The commander's family was was murdered to cut off his bloodline, but his ... See full summary »

Director: King Hu
Stars: Lingfeng Shangguan, Chun Shih, Ying Bai
Da zui xia (1966)
Action | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A group of bandits kidnaps the governor's son and demands their imprisoned leader to be set free in exchange.

Director: King Hu
Stars: Pei-Pei Cheng, Hua Yueh, Hung Lieh Chen
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An esquire and a General eyes a priceless handwritten scroll by Tripitaka, held in a Temple library. The Abbot of the Temple selects his successor.

Director: King Hu
Stars: Feng Hsu, Yueh Sun, Chun Shih
Fantasy | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A scholar, tasked to copy a sutra, meets with a mysterious old lady and her daughter in the mountains.

Director: King Hu
Stars: Chun Shih, Feng Hsu, Sylvia Chang
Zhong lie tu (1975)
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The emperor dispatches an officer and a small band of men to deal with pirates.

Director: King Hu
Stars: Feng Hsu, Ying Bai, Roy Chiao
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Lee Khan, a high official under Mongolian Emperor Yuan of the Yuan dynasty (year 1366) procures the battle map of the Chinese rebel Chu Yuan-Chang's army. Rebel spies, aided by treachery within Khan's ranks, strive to corner him in an inn.

Director: King Hu
Stars: Li Hua Li, Roy Chiao, Feng Hsu
Gui nu chuan (1971)
Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Director: Feng Huang
Stars: Angela Mao, Yuen Kao, Ying Bai
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Based on a true story, primarily on a conflict between two youth gangs, a 14-year-old boy's girlfriend conflicts with the head of one gang for an unclear reason, until finally the conflict comes to a violent climax.

Director: Edward Yang
Stars: Chen Chang, Lisa Yang, Kuo-Chu Chang
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A lonely housewife finds her monotonous life altered when her childhood sweetheart returns to town.

Director: Mu Fei
Stars: Chaoming Cui, Wei Li, Yu Shi
Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Director: Wing-Cho Yip
Stars: Nora Miao, Yin Tse, James Tien
Edit

Cast

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
...
Hui Yuan
Ying-Chieh Han ...
Hsu
Li Jen Ho
Chung Mou Hsieh
Han Hsieh ...
Dr. Lu Meng
Hsing Chun Hsu
Edit

Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

18 November 1971 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

A Touch of Zen  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Blu-ray)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Connections

Referenced in The Matrix (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Mood-driven journey to spiritual enlightenment
17 July 2005 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

To think that I used to accuse King Hu of doing injustice to the wuxia genre with boring storytelling and slow action, I must have been on crack at the time--as his best works completely transcend elements of conventional film-making. In A TOUCH OF ZEN, It's not the story or the action that stands out; although they are part of the system, they are secondary to the theme of spiritual enlightenment, which is what counts in Buddhist philosophy. When the abbot confronts the East Chamber agent, the art of combat is strictly utilized by the abbot to guide the agent to "put down his sword, and attain peace with Buddha." There is a haunting sight when the bookworm scholar is amused by his tactic which fooled the agents. He thinks he has reached the peak of perfection, but then he sees dead bodies lying around who have suffered from his tactic, and the only thing on his mind is a woman whom he lusts. As book-smart as he is, he still suffers from worldly affair like everyone else. Only at the end when he accepts Buddha is he able to live in peace.

Aside from the philosophical points, ZEN also scores strongly in establishing mood, suspense, and fascinating visuals. The Jiang Hu in this film feels incredibly authentic, and the rich mise-en-scene is refreshing compared to the limited Shaw Bros studio offerings. I loved the photography throughout; it beautifully captures the spiritual wonder of ancient Orient. In framing still shots, King Hu chiefly employs medium and medium close-ups, mounting his camera at an upward angle so we can always see beyond the characters, perhaps to suggest existence of higher wisdom.

One observation I would like to propose is that although ZEN is probably a milestone in Chinese cinema, it would be a minor masterpiece compared to the best works from 60s Japan. The lush photography and haunting images from KWAIDAN come to mind as a comparison. No doubt, King Hu also learned a few tricks from the likes of Kurosawa, such as pointing his camera at the sun which occurs frequently in ZEN.

[9/10]


15 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?