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Chicago’s APUC Season 13 to Present Four Restored Wuxia Classics from Director King Hu

  • Date:2021-08-29

Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 13 will kick off on September 15 and run through October 12. From September 22 to September 28, Taipei Cultural Center in New York is pleased to collaborate with APUC to present masterful cinema by Director Kung Hu(胡金銓) with four restored wuxia classics: DRAGON INN(龍門客棧), A TOUCH OF ZEN(俠女), LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN(山中傳奇) and RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN(空山靈雨). All four films are available to stream online across the United States, with DRAGON INN also playing on the big screen at a drive-in theater on September 28.  

Praised as an “extravagantly talented visual stylist,” cinematic titan King Hu revolutionized the wuxia/swordplay film, introducing a refined sense of aesthetics, attention to mise-en-scène, and sense of mysticism to the genre that was borne out of his lifelong love for Peking opera. With its unique blend of thrilling action and dazzling stylistic expressiveness, Hu’s style influenced decades of subsequent Asian cinema, including Tsui Hark’s NEW DRAGON GATE INN and Ang Lee’s CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.

Janus Films, which holds the U.S. rights to DRAGON INN and A TOUCH OF ZEN, notes that “He [Hu] imbued his action with a compositional depth and maturity; focused intently on the physicality of his performers, rather than relying on special effects; used the camera as a balletic partner to the actors; sculpted his fight scenes keenly through editing rather than letting them play out in single takes; cast women in stronger, more central roles than the studio had before; and conveyed a palpable sense of Buddhist precepts.”

DRAGON INN was a blockbuster, setting box-office records in Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines in 1967, and the film proved to have a broad and lasting impact. Hu’s next directorial effort could not hit screens until 1971, after three years of filming. A TOUCH OF ZEN took the Technical Grand Prize award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975, propelling Hu onto the world stage, and its bamboo forest duel became a classic scene and an indelible contribution to cinema.

LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN and RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN underwent the development, pre-production, photography, post-production and even distribution process simultaneously. LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN was described as one of King Hu’s most visually ravishing works, and it swept six major awards, including Best Director, at the 16th edition of Golden Horse Awards, while RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN became a virtuoso showcase for Hu’s typically luxurious mise-en-scène and elegant action choreography.

After more than 30 years, Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (previously known as Taiwan Film Archive and Taiwan Film Institute) commenced restoration of King Hu’s classic titles. In 2014 and 2015, the scrupulous digital restorations of DRAGON INN and A TOUCH OF ZEN were selected for Cannes Classics. In 2016, LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN was restored and subsequently selected for Venice Classics. In 2018, RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN was selected for the first edition of Classici fuori Mostra, organized by the Venice Biennale.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 13 is bringing 30 films from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and China to Chicagoland and beyond. Sophia Wong Boccio, festival director of Asian Pop-Up Cinema, stated that “Keeping up with our eclectic programming, I truly believe that we have another season with a diverse mix of films for people to choose and enjoy. Also, the festival is going hybrid for good. Showing films physically in a cinema or at a drive-in for people to meet and watch films on the big screen will always be the heart of the festival!”

Wednesday, September 22 - Tuesday, September 28
Martial Arts Restored Classics
This program is supported by Taipei Cultural Center in New York and co-presented by Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute.

DRAGON INN (King Hu, 1967)
**An encore screening will take place at ChiTown Drive-in (2343 S. Throop) at sunset (8:00 - 8:30PM) on September 28.

A TOUCH OF ZEN (King Hu, 1971)