As the godfather of Chinese action cinema, King Hu has influenced such leading directors as Tsui Hark, Wong Kar-wai, and Ang Lee, establishing the mold for the wuxia (swordplay) genre. Hu and his contemporaries were reaching for higher plateaus, using wire work and gravity-defying pyrotechnics, and chivalrous heroes who fight nobly for god, country and honor.
DRAGON INN, shot in lavish Cinemascope, is Hu’s more influential epic in already an amazing filmography of classic martial arts epics. Set during the Ming Dynasty, the main plot is a complex tale of courtly intrigue, secretive assassins, and Machiavellian maneuvering, as the Emperor’s loyal Minister of Defense, Yu, is unjustly accused and executed by the nefarious master swordsman Cao Shaoqin. Seeking to sever all ties, Cao dispatches two of his loyal assassins to intercept two of Yu’s offspring who are expected to stay at the titular Dragon Inn as they flee to exile. The inn is a neutral zone, enabling people from any caste – eunuchs, officers, swordsman, hawkers, hermits, and spies – to rub shoulders regardless of social standing. Wandering warrior Xiao Shazoi and spectacular swordswoman Chu Hui also arrive at the inn and immediately recognize the clandestine assassins as there for no good and soon join forces to protect Yu’s honor and to restore justice.
HIFF and the Honolulu Museum of Art proudly present this lavish 4K digital restoration of King Hu’s influential classic. Without DRAGON INN, as well as other of the master filmmaker’s wuxia classics, there would not have been modern hits like CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, THE HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS or HERO. This film is part of the King Hu sidebar, alongside A TOUCH OF ZEN and COME DRINK WITH ME, which are all playing at this year’s HIFF.
King Hu in His Own Words: Reflections on an Extraordinary Career
Directed by George Chun Han Wang. USA. 2013. 5.5 min.
This screening is presented by the Doris Duke Theater at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Tickets are $10 General Public / $8 Museum members. Tickets must be purchased through the Museum at: https://honolulumuseum.org/events/films