Reviews written by registered user
|1 reviews in total|
Once there was a time when I thought Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was
the very best martial arts movie man could make. Both visually and
story-tellingwise it was a joy to watch, and the fight scenes were the
best ever with their unrealistic features. Once I saw King Hu's martial
arts masterpiece A Touch of Zen I was rather surprised since it
exceeded in almost every level. First released in 1971, this great film
hasn't lost any of its power or splendor which is a fine merit on its
In the beginning of the movie we follow the everyday life of a poor artist Ku, an unmarried man in his thirties, who is living in a rather small town with his mother. This first part of the film (for it can roughly be divided into three parts) plays much like a family drama with some small comic moments. Ku's life gets a little more interesting when he notices strange people walking around town, a mysterious man visiting his studio and befriending him, and some strange noises coming from a house that is rumoured to be haunted. All this and the love (or is it just lust?) he feels for a certain woman change his life completely.
The next two parts offer a very different experience each providing the story with politics, war tactics and a growing spiritual element of mystery through beautiful photography, great direction and awesome fight scenes. What really stands out in the martial arts part of the film is how real it feels. I know it isn't real; some leaps and moves the characters make just can't be done in real life, but the clanging of the steel, swooshing of people's clothes when they perform their moves and the sound of footsteps are so impressive that I found myself holding my breath at some scenes. This is also helped by the near perfect choreography. It's nothing like the tricky and lightning-fast movements in CTHD and I like this much better. The fighters are really observing each other's moves to know when to strike.
I really can't find any serious faults in this movie. Being over three hours long there wasn't a single wasted minute. Any yawning I did was due to the late hour when I was watching this. It is true that the film moves slowly forward but I think it's necessary for the atmosphere to develop. The director really knew what he was doing since all the important scenes have that special quality to them that can only be acquired when superb direction, believable acting and a great sense of situation come together. The use of light is especially worth mentioning since it is so well done. The fight in the forest where light shines through the leaves creating a dreamlike scenery in the background has got to be one of the most captivating things I've seen on film.
A Touch of Zen is one of my favourite movies. It is very well executed in every way imaginable, and definitely among the best martial arts movies. If you like this type of movies where great action is mixed with spiritual elements and a search for peace, you must see this beautiful movie. It won't leave you cold.