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

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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,679 users  
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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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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 »


Featured in MythBusters: Walking on Water (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

A classic of cinema.
8 May 2001 | by (Montreal, Quebec) – See all my reviews

Ok A Touch Of Zen can be describe like a Wu Xia Pian, but it is a good movie in all the direction. Not only a good wu xia pian, a good movie.

Critics of Occidental country always ignore the genre movie. It is why by exemple, we never saw "Ninkyo Eiga" from Japan, but it is the moste populare genre in the 60-70 era. When a director like Sergio Leone made too much succes, they can't ignore him. But in general, they try to put their own idea of the each country's cinematography on the dictionnary. Japan are a zen country who made slow movie like Ozu (althought Ozu try to made movie like American with Japanese things).

This is why the history of cinema are full of injustice. King Hu are one the great injustice. Yes, he made wu xia pian, a martial art genre movies. Swordplay movie in fact.

But is movies are a perfect mechanic, an exemple of editing. Hu made is own editing and like the piano play by Glenn Gould, we recognise his style when you pay attention of editing.

Hu dont want to use "wire" or special effect. He want use "editing" and camera to suggest anythings.

A Touch Of Zen are a gem. But i understand, it is maybe too much asian for the american country. All the first alf of the movie are talk and slow pacing. But the others alf are action, action and action. I dont know who want to watch that. Intellectual who love serious movies will love the first alf but maybe they just think acyion are too stupide. Same thing for the teenager who love action pack.

But, if you forget all your expectation, you will be touch byééé magic of poetry. Hu made a 3 distinctive parts movie. The first focus on individuality, the second on politics and the third on religion.

The first hour focuys on a naive scholar who discover strange yhing happen in the village where he live whit his old mothers. Suspens and mystery are the substance of this part.

The second show politics manipulation and the substance of war. This is the Hu tradionnal part. We are in Dragon Inn Gate, Fate Of Lee Khan or all the politics corruption things. A lot of martial arts.

The third part introduce us in the things of spirit. Hu show us a personn face to himself, the society and the spiritual....

But dont epect the spiritual journey like American movies. It his a King Hu movie. Ellipse and short cut are always where you dont expect and the focus always where you never goes....

A great movie.

18 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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