Monday, June 05, 2006

I tell ya, these ones are valiant!

So if any Kung Fu Friday disciples want to get elevated in their belt rankings, I would suggest they head out to the Cinematheque Ontario for the Monday night screening of King Hu's THE VALIANT ONES at 8:45pm. Director King Hu is a grand master of martial arts cinema, and if you don't know his name, you will know his influence... CROUCHING TIGER would never have came to be without the influence his films had on Ang Lee like COME DRINK WITH ME and A TOUCH OF ZEN. Sadly his films have never gotten the proper exposure outside of Asia (and France) that they deserve.

From the introduction that I wrote for the Toronto edition of the Heroic Grace 2 series:
King Hu represents the classical side of the genre and has the distinction of being the first Chinese director to win a major award at the Cannes film festival with TOUCH OF ZEN (1975). Considered the true "scholar" of the martial arts directors, Hu had a keen eye for detail on costumes and settings, and pioneered the rapid edit and active camera techniques that would later become the standard in Hong Kong action movies. THE VALIANT ONES (1975), choreographed by Sammo Hung, who went to Peking Opera school alongside his younger "brother," Jackie Chan, features action scenes that did not particularly require physical prowess from its performers: it was the editing that endowed them with superhuman skills. In fact, Hu admittedly filmed combat scenes more like ballets than plausible fights. Obviously, Hu's style was very influential on Tsui Hark, who produced Hu's SWORDSMAN (1990) and a remake of Hu's DRAGON INN (1967) in 1992.
For more info, check out this essay by a close friend of Kung Fu Fridays, Concordia film professor Peter Rist: A Touch of Hu: A Fan’s Notes and an Appreciation.

Here is the French poster and some enticing stills...

Arrrrrrrrrgh! It's Sammo Hung as a Japanese pirate!

Incoming fists!

1 comment:

Poptique said...

If I'm not mistaken, Sammo appears near the end in A Touch of Zen too. Beautiful film.

There's a pretty good subbed/LBX DVD of it available in the UK.