Modern martial arts pictures like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Hero,” “The Grandmaster,” and “House Of Flying Daggers” plus films like Quentin Tarantino‘s homage to the genre “Kill Bill,” and the wire work in “The Matrix,” can all draw a line back to the films of King Hu. The director combined beautiful imagery with groundbreaking action scenes, creating an oeuvre like no other, and this spring two of his pictures are returning to the big screen.
Janus Films will be releasing The Criterion Collection‘s restoration of 1971’s “A Touch Of Zen” and “Dragon Inn.” The three hour epic ‘Zen’ follows Yang (Hsu Feng), a noblewoman and fugitive hiding in a small village, who must escape into the wilderness with a shy scholar and two aides. There, the quartet face a massive group of fighters and are joined by a band of Buddhist monks surprisingly skilled in the art of battle.
Meanwhile, 1967’s “Dragon Inn” is set during the Ming Dynasty, and kicks off when the Emperor’s Minister of Defense is framed and executed by a powerful court eunuch, and his family is sent into exile and pursued by secret police. As the chase ensues, a mysterious band of strangers begins to gather at the remote Dragon Gate Inn, where paths (and swords) will cross.
You can check out the trailers for both below. “A Touch Of Zen” opens on April 22nd at Film Forum, with “Dragon Inn” following on May 6th at Film Society of Lincoln Center. The films will roll out nationally from there.