Directed by: King Hu 1971 | 180 min.

Section: Filmmaker in Focus: Cheng Pei Pei & King Hu

Premiere: Special Presentation

Countries: Taiwan

Languages: Mandarin Chinese, with English subtitles

Genres: Adventure, Asian Cinema, Drama, Martial Arts, Period/Historical


Sponsored by:

Doris Duke Theater


Ku Shen Chai (Shih Jun), an unmotivated artist in his early 30s, still lives with his mother, but he is shaken from his comfortable rut by the arrival of beautiful and mysterious Yang Hui-ching (Feng Hsu), a princess on the run from General Ou-Yang Nin (Tien Peng), who murdered her entire family. Yang brings Ku into her circle of protectors, including Nin's rival, General Shih Wen-Chiao (Pai Ying), and the nameless monk (Roy Chiao) whose spiritual guidance transforms Ku into a valiant fighter.

A TOUCH OF ZEN, a 1971 Taiwanese wuxia film directed by master filmmaker King Hu, won an award at that year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it held its’ world premiere. Hailed as a masterpiece, and perhaps Hu’s greatest film, the film is famous for its cinematography, editing, and special effects, as well as its unusually thoughtful approach to the genre, with its strong thematic focus on Buddhism. The film makes strong use of symbolism throughout and is famous for its "abstract," open-ended finale. Its influence is apparent in later wuxia revivals such as Ang Lee’s CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000) and Zhang Yimou’s HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (2004).

HIFF and the Honolulu Museum of Art are honored to present the digital 4K restoration print of A TOUCH OF ZEN and is part of our sidebar highlighting the works of King Hu — also keep an eye out for COME DRINK WITH ME and DRAGON INN, both playing at this year’s Festival.
-Anderson Le

Played with:
King Hu in His Own Words: A Touch of Zen
Directed by George Chun Han Wang. USA. 2013. 4.5 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


Sunday, November 06 7:00 PM Doris Duke Theater Date Passed

Cast & Crew

Director King Hu
Producer Hsia Wu Ling-fung
Cast Pei Pei Cheng, Roy Chiao, Shih Chun, Hsu Feng, Pai Ying
Cinematographer Hua Hui-ying
Writer King Hu
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