Aside from watching Part 1 last week, Part 2 having been the continuation, was good up until the last half an hour of the film. In Part 1, the viewers could tell that the main character was the painter, Ku, and I believed King Hu made it very clear. The movie was the continuation of where we left off, which was the forest scene. The plot continues to flow as Ku, Yang, and the others form a plan in order to capture the Emperor and leads to an ambush, which I thought was rather clever. There were a few questions after the ambush, like why was Ku laughing as he was strolling to where all the attacks had happened and then as soon as he saw the Emperor killed, Ku automatically went into a state of shock as all the soldiers (?) around him were dead as well. I did not get that part because shouldn’t Ku have known that they all died as he was constantly laughing like a maniac?
As the story picks up from there, Ku then goes in search of Ms. Yang as she has ran away. As he searches for her and climbs a mountain, a new born baby suddenly appears. I had a couple questions after this scene. One, was Ku searching for Ms. Yang for a total of 9 months to a year and then the baby was born OR the baby just suddenly appeared in a couple of days/weeks that Ku was searching for Yang? Second, after Ku had found the baby, shouldn’t the film have ended there instead of moving on to a totally different story with different villains and different protagonists when the viewers were focusing on Ku as the protagonist this entire time?
After Ku escapes from becoming a “Wanted Man”, Yang suddenly appears with the General, the monk, and then you have another different character who is now another villain. The story then focuses on those set of characters and then Ku makes a slight cameo appearance at the end of the movie as he holds the baby and looks up into the sun. At that moment, I was lost and completely dumbfounded.
Although, I did like the first part of the film and majority of the second part as it kept me on my toes and had a lot of action, I did not like how it ended. The usage of props and amount of action in this film was pretty cool as it kept me entertained and the ambush scene was well plotted, however the storyline could have used a little more work as I felt like King Hu was dragging the story.
A Touch of Zen Part 1, in my opinion, had a really slow pace while watching the film. Other than minor action/battle scenes that took place in part 1, the one scene that really stood out to me, and I’m sure the rest of the class was the infamous battle scene in the Bamboo Forest. Here, you have Ku, Yang and the other two men that are battling the two dudes in the red uniform. Aside from the battle being only 6 minutes, the usage of props and the setting, I felt, all went well together. I found some of the scenes really cool like when Yang threw darts and Ku was shooting arrows at the two men and they dodged it and one of them even held the arrow and just ran away.
I thought that Yang was pretty cool when she jumped from the thin bamboo tree and stabbed one of the men. I was in awe and I’m pretty sure we can all agree..even Ku and the other guy that was hiding behind the trees were in awe. What I didn’t get was when the two men were trying to escape and they started cutting down the bamboo trees while Yang and Ku were following them. Maybe while they were cutting the bamboo, they were doing a bit of foreshadowing with it since 30 seconds later, Yang did all these flips and tricks from bamboo to bamboo as she got a good distance and jumped off.
Other than that, I thought for part 1, it was alright. The bamboo forest battle scene was a really good way to end the class since it kept me all excited for what’s in store later on when we watch part 2.
Fun Fact: There were two versions of this movie. Dragon Gate Inn (1967) being the first original movie, New Dragon Gate Inn (1992) , which apparently is the sequel, and the most recent one, The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011), which I am more familiar with because I am a fan of Jet Li.
Dragon Gate Inn (1967), in my opinion, is one of those films that you either will absolutely love…or absolutely….not love. Personally, I thought the movie was okay, but the ending was what really questioned if I considered this a movie that I would consider watching again or not. It was somewhat confusing because you have all these characters that are somewhat related to one another in a way, in which I got confused. For example, when the commander of the secret police was beheaded by his own squad (condemned by the emperor, himself), I did not know that there was a man and woman, who turns out to be the commander’s youngest son and daughter. Also, when the emperor ordered the commander’s entire family to be killed, why didn’t he kill the youngest son and daughter at that time? Instead, the son and daughter were expelled from the empire to the outlands.
Aside from that, what I really didn’t get was the battle scene towards the end involving the emperor. I may have missed some parts before the movie, but when I finally tuned in to the battle scene, I was slightly confused.. there were multiple times where the emperor got hit and resulting this, he struggled, but he still managed to fight like it was nothing. Also, when the emperor finally got his head chopped off, it ended 10 seconds later. Who does that?? The emperor’s head being chopped off felt like the climax with no falling action or conclusion. You would also think the main protagonist would be the one to kill the emperor, but it was some other guy and then it ends.
King Hu’s Come Drink With Me was considered his first martial arts film. While watching the movie, I thought there will be a lot more action and a lot more weapons used throughout the movie. I also thought that the movie would be centered on the main protagonist, Golden Swallow, who was portrayed by Cheng Pei-Pei. However, the main focus was actually on the Drunken Cat, who was portrayed by Yue Hwa.
Aside from the main character, I really liked the costumes, the setting and the continuity editing that made the film a “masterpiece”. There was one scene that stood out to me, which was the fight scene between Golden Swallow and the Jade-Faced Tiger’s men. While the fight scene was not your average fight scene that includes punch, kicks, dodges and stunts, the way it was filmed was pretty impressive. I was told that the camera had to be placed upside down at one point in order to shoot the scene and was edited backwards.
Another scene that I realized was when Golden Swallow got hit by a poison dart and the Drunken Cat had to suck the poison out of her. However, what I noticed was when he was sucking the poison out of the wound and stop the bleeding, the wound appeared just below her shoulder and collar bone (which was seeped through her clothes) then the actual wound itself, which was placed more along her chest area. Other than that, very good usage of lighting throughout the movie except the fight scene between Drunken Cat and the monk, which appeared rather dark so it was hard for me to tell where all the sudden wounds had come from. Prop usage and acting was overall well used, however, I don’t think it is rather necessary to include so much blood and have the scene be more over dramatic then it needs to be, but I do understand that this was King Hu’s way of expressing anger and hatred toward the Shaw Brothers.
After viewing Sons of Good Earth, I liked the film, especially since this was King Hu’s directorial debut film, and was also considered to be his “first film.” It was through his background in acting that he was able to cast Peter Chen Ho and Betty Loh Ti, both big stars at the time; through this very power couple the film was expected to draw an audience and thus a profit.
Apparently, this film however, was made over budget. The scene I felt was most memorable and left quite an impression on me was the fight scene where the villagers retaliate against the Japanese. It helped me to understand why the film did so well to the point where it went over budget..especially since all the props and the material needed to create that fake funeral and the amount of weapons in which that King Hu wanted them to be authentic and look realistic for the actual fight was what made the film go over budget.
I also felt that the last scene where the villagers retreat back to the mountain only to find the Japanese had infiltrated their safe zone was well done especially because it was shot in a wide-shot, so it made me feel like the plot was gradually becoming more intense.
Although the film did cost the Shaw Brothers and King Hu a lot of money, however, the money spent shows and kept the film interesting via impressive action scenes, to me, was worth it in order for this film to be grossly over budget and a spectacular hit.