A Touch of Zen (1969)

A Touch of Zen (1969)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

According to this drama, set in 14th-century China, a state-run secret police organization made life a living hell for anyone with the temerity to cross it. In the story, a noblewoman is in hiding. When a police spy tries to take her to his masters, she beats him in single combat.
Action & Adventure , Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Hsu Feng
as Yang
Pai Ying
as General Shih
Ping-Yu Chang
as Ku's Mother
Tien Peng
as Ou-Yang
Roy Chiao
as Golden Monk
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Critic Reviews for A Touch of Zen

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (3)

The visual style will set your eyes on fire.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

[King Hu] has not ignored traditional mayhem here, but he has demonstrated that pictorial artistry, Zen mysticism and the stylized martial arts, can make a fascinating mix.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

A widely acclaimed martial arts film (1971) by Hong Kong's King Hu, one of the handful of directors to have worked in the genre with artistic ambitions.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

...pure, ravishing spectacle.

Full Review… | August 10, 2016

a true game-changer in the way it infused the wuxia (martial arts) genre with both epic scale and spiritual intensity

Full Review… | August 7, 2016
Q Network Film Desk

A vigorous heroine, ghosts, balletic battles, political friction, the greenest of green bamboo and a mystical ending that satisfies without resolution.

Full Review… | June 29, 2016

Audience Reviews for A Touch of Zen


Early 70's wuxia film about Ku, living with his mum in an abandoned fort, Yang mysterious and attractive and baddy Eunuch Wei who's trying to kill her. Long, dated and slow.

Lesley N
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

it's not a typical wuxia film. it's a philosophical epic from the most artistic of the original martial arts directors, king hu, that takes a full hour to build to the first fight scene. so be warned. the second hour is well worth the wait, the action is beautifully staged and cut, a huge influence on the modern wuxia, crouching tiger, house of flying daggers, etc. one might want to start with king hu's first film for the shaw brothers, come drink with me, as this takes some getting through. it's an art film lol. also it could use restoration; some scenes are pretty murky. now i need to find dragon inn...

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

The length of this movie does not bother me. I'll sit through any engaging film, no matter how long it is. What bothers me is the engagement angle. If a film is tightly wrought, then five or six hours or even more is no problem. This one, however, goes through periods where the editorial staff seems to have been asleep at the board. It's definitely a movie with a split personality. At times it's stunning both in terms of narrative and visuals. At times it is so dark that it's impossible to see what's going on for very long stretches. There is character meandering that goes on way too long -- we could use a "touch" less from time to time. Overall, I think a restoration is in order -- the quality of the DVD is not even.

There is a truly strong woman principal here -- my favorite character -- along the lines of a Ziyi Zhang from Crouching Tiger, but this woman is even stronger in that her sexuality is all but absent. She's a kind of asexual butt-kicker, who almost never depends on her femininity to carry a scene -- the musical seduction is the only scene I can recall where she plays it purely as a woman. The part could almost be played by a male -- but thankfully it isn't. She's wonderful.

I'm not keen on the story -- it's basically political intrigue minus the intrigue.

Still, if you are looking for a non-Hollywoodian movie from China, this one is a must-see.

Lanning : )
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

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