The cinematic achievement of Director King Hu (1932-1997) is multifold and world recognised. His unique wuxia genre has not only brought new heights to action choreography and film editing during the 1960s and 1970s, but also created a unique film language that has influenced many filmmakers to follow.
King Hu is best known for his early attempts in creating a special “Chineseness” in his cinema that blend Peking Opera acrobatic movements, Chinese operatic music with costumed martial arts actions. His sensitivity in Chinese ink painting opened up new approaches to film framing and composition, creating stunning visuals that were new to Chinese cinema at the time. King Hu’s attention to form and style and his meticulous demands on sets and costumes had resulted in a film language that is highly stylish and overtly enticing.
“Xia” and “Zen” are two significant concepts in King Hu’s cinema. In Chinese martial arts tradition, “xia” usually refers to skilled heroes or heroines that exercise justice and fought against the brutes and the evils. “Xia” in King Hu’s world, however, is a media of portraying gracefulness and wit and a means of creating his “Touch of Zen”, often combining Buddhism with ink painting aesthetics, plus a bit of his own escapist philosophy. At this juncture of King Hu’s 80th birth anniversary, Hong Kong Film Archive takes the opportunity to present a screening and exhibition programme in tribute to this very important figure in Chinese cinema. The screening programme will showcase most of King Hu’s directorial titles, plus a careful selection of films he had acted in. The Film Archive took length in locating the best copies available, which implies the best and longest available version of A Touch of Zen (1971), a longer version of Raining in the Mountain (1979) and a more refined copy of The Valiant Ones (1975).
Thanks to the great support of Chinese Taipei Film Archive, we are able to access the highly precious archival items that were shipped back from Los Angeles in 1997. Among them are precious drawings, paintings and calligraphy of the director himself. All these will be shown in the exhibition titled Zen and Sensibility: Legend in King Hu's Drawing. To echo King Hu’s various artistic achievement, a series of seminars will be hosted to discuss on his drawings, his set and costume designs and his acting skills.
Special thanks to Chinese Taipei Film Archive, King Hu Foundation USA, King Hu Arts and Culture Foundation for their kind assistance in making this programme a success. We would also like to thank Ms Cheng Pei-pei, Mr Shih Chun, Mr Law Kar, Mr Tsui Hark, Mr Keeto Lam, Ms Edith Cheung, Mr James Leung, Mr Chan Wai-keung, Mr Feng Yusong, Mr Ng Ming-choi, Zunzi, Mr. Sha Yung-fong and Mr Wu Hei for their contribution and advice.
The Actor in King Hu
King Hu’s life is a legend in itself. Stemming from a prestigious Mandarin family from Hebei, he arrived in Hong Kong in 1949 at age 17 and worked in a variety of occupations, including proofreading at a printing company, sets decor and English tutor and ended up working for the Shaw Brothers in 1958. Before King Hu turned director, he had acted in more than 36 films from mid-50s to mid-60s. His acting roles ranged from minor to key roles; from teenage prodigal sons, ugly but devoted lover to comical roles that stand out in a number of comedies. In order to take a more thorough study on King Hu’s contribution to Hong Kong’s cinema, we are taking this opportunity to showcase 12 interesting titles in which we can appreciate King Hu’s acting. Among these, Cha Cha Girl (1957), The Swallow Thief (1961), My Lucky Star (1963) and Stranger than Fiction (1963) are newly acquired prints that the Archive is showing for the first time.
The contents of the programme do not represent the views of the presenter.
The presenter reserves the right to change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.