A Touch of Zen: Martial-Arts Masterpiece

Posted by Michael Gibbons on 5.3.2011

On May 6, our new Taiwan Stories: Classic & Contemporary Film from Taiwan series opens with a diverse panorama of Taiwanese cinema. Once again, we turned to friends of the Film Society to ask what their "must-see" film is, and Reid Rosefelt was kind enough to share a glowing review of A Touch of Zen (which screens at the Walter Reade Theater on May 13, 15, and 19):

"Anybody who sees A Touch of Zen on the big screen is guaranteed to have one of the greatest experiences of their movie-going lives. It was that for me. 

I had no idea what I was about to experience when I wandered into the New York Film Festival screening years ago. I’d never seen anything like it before.  Everything seemed normal for awhile, but all of a sudden people started flying around, and the female character turned out to be a warrior. I didn’t know what hit me.  I fell in love with this actress (from IMDB I think her name is Hsu Feng).   

The film went on for three hours but I was very sad when it was over. I never stopped talking about it for years afterwards. Of course then, I have seen many excellent wuxia and martial arts films since then, but this will always be my favorite as it was my first love. I suppose that no one can recreate the experience I had at the time, because they will already have seen dozens of films that have been influenced by A Touch of Zen, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I also see from IMDB that it is listed 9th on the list of the all time best Chinese films. 

I bought no less than two international DVDs of the film. The transfers were horrible and I couldn’t watch them. One wasn’t even widescreen. There is a copy available on Netflix. This movie needs a big screen."

Reid Rosefelt is a long-time publicist and writer of My Life as a Blog.

 

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