Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

A Touch of Zen 1971

Xia nu

Directed by King Hu Retro

Frequently imitated (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and never surpassed, King Hu’s spectacular pre-CGI masterpiece of wuxia cinema has been radiantly restored. “The visual style will set your eyes on fire.” — Time Out

Taiwan In Mandarin with English subtitles
180 minutes CinemaScope / DCP



Sha Yung-feng
Hsia-wu Liang Fong


Hua Huiying


King Hu
Wang Chin-chen


Wu Dajiang


Hsu Feng (Yang Huizhen)
Shih Chun (Gu Shengzhai)
Bai Ying (General Shi Wen-chiao)
Tien Peng (Ouyang Nian)
Roy Chiao Hung (Abbot Hui-yuan)


The greatest of martial arts movies returns, looking and sounding better than ever, to the giant Embassy screen.

“When it comes to the wuxia film, all roads lead back to the great King Hu: supreme fantasist, Ming dynasty scholar, and incomparable artist. For years, Hu labored on his own, creating one exquisitely crafted film after another (with astonishing pre-CGI visual effects), elevating the martial-arts genre to unparalleled heights…

Hu’s three-years-in-the-making masterpiece, A Touch of Zen, was released in truncated form in Hong Kong in 1971… A close-to-complete version was constructed by Hu and shown at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, where he won a grand prize for technical achievement (and earned an apology from his studio heads).” New York Film Festival

“Widely and rightly regarded as not only one of the finest martial arts films ever made, but one of the greatest works in all Chinese cinema, King Hu’s A Touch of Zen is most often lauded for its extraordinary fight sequences. Why the film is so exceptional, however, is that as great as these fight scenes are (and they are spectacular), they may not even be the best part of the movie.” Jeremy Carr, Mubi

“King Hu’s remarkable Ming Dynasty epic deliberately makes itself impossible to define, beginning as a ghost story, then turning into a political thriller, and finally becoming a metaphysical battle as the role of the monk Hui-yuan (Chiao) comes to the fore… The visual style will set your eyes on fire.” Tony Rayns, Time Out