To be completely honest, I knew absolutely nothing about King Hu before this class. I had never even heard of him either, but then again I don’t usually know the names of directors except for the mainstream ones like George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. When George mentioned that we will be learning about “King HU”, I literally thought “King who?? George doesn’t know the name of this King?” (lol.) However, after taking this class, I learned that he was probably one of the best martial arts directors back in the day. Honestly, I learned that many of martial arts movies that we see nowadays that have been mainstream are all influenced by King Hu, for example, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger. Learning about how he got to where he is, learning techniques, having conflicts with Shaw brothers before finally going independent, all the hardships he faced got him to where he was before he passed, and probably would have been a VERY well known director if he was still living.
Films I Liked:
- Sons of Good Earth- Story was pretty good, had a good plot and a lot of humor. I thought it was very cool how they fought for their own country. Ending was a bit cliche, but I thought it could have been better, maybe a more meaningful ending.
- A Touch of Zen- Contrast in calm nature vs. eerie ghost/murder scene, had a lot of spirituality, also the forest battle scene, I felt, was most iconic.
- Fate of Lee Khan– Loved that most of the cast were of women, shows how good they can fight vs. men. Attire was creative. Love that each women had a different personality.
- Crouching Tiger- I know, this is not a King Hu film, but it is one of my favorite martial arts movie, so I just had to include it. Plus, it was influenced by King Hu himself, like the forest scene compared to the one in A Touch of Zen.
Films I Disliked:
- Valiant Ones- I felt this was a bit confusing for me, and boring due to the plot not building up quick enough to the point where it kept me interested. Really hard to watch and write about.
- Painted Skin- Not the “horror” movie I was expecting of him. No offense, but I can see why this film was not one of King Hu’s “better” films. Not a lot of humor (felt off-putting) and everyone was just all over the place, which made it hard to keep up.
- Dragon Gate Inn– Found the movie too confusing and hard to keep up with. The beginning looked interesting, but as the plot develops, that’s where I got lost..especially the ending. The ending was probably the worst ending I’ve ever seen in my entire life..left me utterly confused.
Now that we have come to the end of the semester, I can honestly say that learning about King Hu has been a privilege. I now see that King Hu, who is a nobody to most people, actually was a somebody to many people, especially well known martial arts directors. As I mentioned previously,the bamboo scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is influenced by the bamboo scene from A Touch of Zen. Comparing his early works to his later works, it can be seen how King Hu has revolutionized the display of such special effects, even if his later works did not receive as much recognition as his earlier works. The casting of Cheng Pei-Pei in Come Drink With Me, King Hu placed an emphasis on dancing, which correlates with fighting. I even remember that Cheng Pei-Pei mentioned that martial arts is much like dancing in similar ways by paving the way for wuxia with his interest in putting the dances of Chinese opera into his film so he could use their beautiful choreography in place of actual martial arts. Nowadays, the usage of wire works and acrobatics used in many Chinese martial arts films can lead back to King Hu and his first film, Sons of Good Earth.