DVD Review: A Touch of Zen (Masters of Cinema)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a huge global success and sparked a huge interest in epic Asian fantasy and martial arts films. Primarily, it introduced the world to the wuxia genre, often characterised by gravity-defying action. However, this is not a new phenomena, with films dating back before WWII. The most notable came in the ’60s and ’70s from the Shaw Brothers Studio and King Hu, the latter directing possibly the greatest of the genre, A Touch of Zen.

Ku (Shih Jun) is an unambitious painter who lives with his mother (Cheung Bing-yuk). When the mysterious Miss Yang (Hsu Feng) moves in next door he falls for her but soon gets a shock when she’s attacked by a mysterious stranger. Along with General Shih they manage to escape. Ku learns they’re fugitives who are being hunted by the Eastern Chamber Guards who have been ordered to capture them by the evil Eunuch Wei.

A Touch of Zen is a masterly epic which has influenced so many modern films. The new transfer looks great and the backgrounds look more stunning than ever. There are many beautifully choreographed action scenes which combine intricate martial arts routines with tricks and flips. The acting is good and I can never get enough of fights in bamboo forests. A Touch of Zen remains a classic martial arts film and most of its contemporary imitators pale in comparison.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Limited edition of 2000 – With Bonus disc and slipcase
  • Limited edition exclusive: King Hu 1932-1997, a 47-minute documentary on the director featuring interviews with colleagues, collaborators and historians
  • limited edition exclusive: Golden Blood, a new video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns
  • New 1080p transfer of the film on Blu-ray, with a progressive encode on the DVD
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Select scene commentary by critic and Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • Trailer

A Touch of Zen is released on Dual Format by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema Collection on Monday.

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