Dir. King Hu
1967, Taiwan, 111 min
Mandarin with English subtitles
The Chinese Wuxia (martial arts) picture was never the same after King Hu’s legendary Dragon Inn. During the Ming dynasty, the emperor’s minister of defense is framed by a powerful court eunuch and executed, and his family is pursued by secret police. In the ensuing chase, a mysterious band of strangers begins to gather at the remote Dragon Gate Inn, where paths (and swords) will cross. This thrilling landmark of film history returns to the screen in a new, beautifully restored 4K digital transfer, created from the original negative.
For Asian Heritage Month, the Dave Barber Cinematheque presents Dancing Swords: The Wuxia films of King Hu – showcasing five of King Hu’s exhilarating wuxia epics – Dragon Inn (1967), A Touch of Zen (1971), The Fate of Lee Khan (1973), Legend of the Mountain (1979), and Raining in the Mountain (1979). Known for his genre-defining swordplay films that encapsulated breathtaking cinematography, graceful action choreography, enigmatic warrior heroines, densely structured mise-en-scenes, and existential transcendence, we celebrate Hu’s visionary artistry and formal innovations that raised the bar for the wuxia film and influenced the work of contemporary Hong Kong and Taiwanese directors such as Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai, and Tsai Ming-liang – whose film Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) will screen adjacent to Hu’s five film retrospective.
Generously sponsored by IATSE 856 Manitoba.
A director in command of everything from the watchful eyes of his actors, to the beauty of a misty morning light, to the heart-stopping vectors of arrows and swords bursting across a widescreen frame, Hu creates cinema that’s the definition of kineticism.
– Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
Dragon Inn is a romantic action film, but it still feels modern thanks to Hu’s strict focus on action. I don’t just mean the film’s relentless series of fight scenes. Hu’s film is all about movement.
– Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com