A Touch of Zen
by King Hu
Director: King Hu
Script: King Hu adapted from Pu Songling's The Heroic Maid
Cinematographer: Hua Hui-ying, Eddy N.H. Chew
Sound: Chang Hua
Editor: King Hu
Music: Ng Tai-kong
Cast: Hsu Feng, Shih Chun, Pai Ying, Tien Peng, Hsueh Han, Chiao Hung, Chang Ping-yu, Wan Chung-shan
Production: International Film Co.
Films Sans Frontières
70, bd de Sébastopol
Tel: 0033 18.104.22.168.84
Fax: 0033 22.214.171.124.66
35 mm, Colour, 165 min
OV Mandarin with French Subtitles.
Cannes Film Festival 1975
Ku Sheng-chai is a well read young man who lives with his mother in an old deserted citadel, on the boarder of China. He becomes Yang ‘s friend, the daughter of Yang Lien, the former imperial censor killed by the police of Wei Chung-hsien, a powerful eunuch. Wei Chung-hsien’s lieutenant Ou-Yang Nien challenges Yang to a fight. With the help of Ku Sheng-chai, Yang who was trained by the Abbey of a Buddhist monastery, succeeds to defeat the whole political police detachment. After she has a child with the painter, Yang retires in a monastery. Pushed by the Abbey to go back to the world, she starts fighting against the political police. The issue of this fight allows the Abbey Hui Yuan to reach Nirvana.
Based on P’u Sung-ling’s short story The Heroic Girl, King Hu has integrated ideas inspired by Zen. Nest of stories are structured around the character of the painter Ku, the only "human" not to fight in the film. It took four years for the film to be completed. Badly released in Taipei in 1972, its failure stopped King Hu’s carrier. Yet, he later shot Raining in the Mountains and The Valiant Ones. Eleven years later, A Touch of Zen was finally distributed.