films seen
11/17
average score
2.50*
nationality
China - 64 years old
status
R.I.P. (1932 - 1997)
more info

Legendary martial arts director who is often seen as the founder of the genre. He never delivered the best martial arts scenes, but the overall quality of his films exceeded that of his contemporaries. Hu's oeuvre is a must for martial arts fans.

Solid pieces

Painted Skin

by King Hu
Also known as
Hua Pi Zhi: Yin Yang Fa Wang
Specifics
Hong Kong, China [1993] - 94m
Genre
Fantasy, Horror
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Painted Skin poster

Swordsman

by Siu-Tung Ching, King Hu, Raymond Lee, Hark Tsui, Ann Hui, Yeung-Wah Kam
Also known as
Xiaoao Jiang Hu
Specifics
Hong Kong, Taiwan [1990] - 120m
Genre
Action, History
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Swordsman poster

The inoffensive

Legend of the Mountain

by King Hu
Also known as
Shan Zhong Zhuan Qi
Specifics
Taiwan, Hong Kong [1979] - 192m
Genre
Fantasy, Mystery
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Legend of the Mountain poster

A fine King Hu film with some surprising fantasy elements. It's clear that he was a better director than his Shaw Bros pals, his film aren't really in the same league as theirs, sadly they're not that good that they warrant a 3-hour running time. It's a shame, because if you would cut a full hour out of this one, you'd probably end up with a much better film.

Raining in the Mountain

by King Hu
Also known as
Kong Shan Ling Yu
Specifics
Taiwan, Hong Kong [1979] - 120m
Genre
Action
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Raining in the Mountain poster

Another solid King Hu film. Like most of his films, quite low on actual martial arts, with more attention given to the plot and surroundings. The pacing is a little slow and I wouldn't have minded a slightly shorter version, but visually it's well beyond the competition and the story is nice enough to follow. Good stuff.

A Touch of Zen

by King Hu
Also known as
Xia Nu
Specifics
Hong Kong, Taiwan [1971] - 200m
Genre
Drama, Action, Thriller, Adventure
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
A Touch of Zen poster

Probably King Hu's most famed martial arts classic, rightfully so. While the film fails as a core action film, the setting and camera work make for some truly stunning moments. Three hours is crazy though and it does drag in places, but the bamboo scene alone makes it worth your time.

Worthy but flawed

Dragon Inn

by King Hu
Also known as
Long Men Kezhan
Specifics
Taiwan, Hong Kong [1967] - 111m
Genre
Action, Adventure
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Dragon Inn poster

Dubious filler

All the King's Men

by King Hu
Also known as
Tian Xia Di Yi
Specifics
Taiwan, Hong Kong [1983] - 100m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
All the King's Men poster

A rather disappointing film from King Hu. I've been enjoying his later work, so I was quite hopeful when I sat down to watch this film. I didn't really expect a somewhat lengthy and rowdy mix of drama and farce set in the imperial court, but that's exactly what this is. And it turns out that's not really Hu's strong point.

The emperor is quite ill and his treatment isn't really working out for him. They're suspecting that the medicine he's been getting isn't doing much for his illness. Luckily he has heard of a famed doctor who lives in a nearby kingdom, but getting to him will prove a lot harder than imagined.

The premise is simple, but the actual story is pretty complex, with characters having to jump through plenty of hoops to get everything done. It's also quite lively and loud, which usually doesn't work in favor of Chinese comedies. The cinematography is decent enough, but the comedy is poor and the film started to drag during the second half.

Sons of the Good Earth

by King Hu
Also known as
Da Di Er Nu
Specifics
Hong Kong [1965] - 107m
Genre
Drama, Action
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Sons of the Good Earth poster

Early King Hu film that wasn't quite what I expected. Don't watch this for the serene/ethereal martial arts vibes, what starts off as a somewhat tepid drama ends up being a precursor of John Woo's heroic bloodshed cinema. That's quite something for a Shaw Bros film from the mid-60s.

Ju Rui and Lao San are two painters who run into Hua, a woman employed by a local brothel. They decide to help her out, but the Japanese occupation of their village isn't making things easy for them. As the oppression of the Japanese invaders grows stronger, Ju and Lao will be forced to make a stand for their country.

Hu's clean style is already clear, but the first hour feels a little basic. There's a strong narrative focus and not much else, which makes it a tad dull. The heavy firearms in the action-packed finale make for a big tonal shift. While entertaining, it turns out that it's not really Hu's strong suit either, so it's no surprise he'd fare better as a martial arts directors in the rest of his career. Sons of the Good Earth is an interesting entry in Hu's oeuvre, but it's far from his best film.

The Story of Sue San

by King Hu
Also known as
Yu Tang Chun
Specifics
Hong Kong [1964] - 107m
Genre
Romance, Musical
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
The Story of Sue San poster

King Hu's first film is a romantic drama with strong musical influences, made for the Shaw Bros studios. Because of that, it's somewhat of an outlier in his oeuvre, but people familiar with his work are sure to recognize Hu's tranquil directorial style. That at least made it an interesting watch.

The film revolves around Chin-Lung Wang, the son of a wealthy minister, who falls in love with Sue San, a prostitute. As their relationship grows stronger, Wang wants to buy off Sue San's deb. When he informs his father of his plan, he disowns Wang right away. Wang won't give up though and looks for other ways to get the money.

The plot is pretty basic, the musical elements are woven through the film and pop up once in a while to hold up the plot. Luckily the cinematography is above average and the pacing is solid. I don't think I'll ever become a fan of Chinese operas, but from all the early Shaw Bros musicals I've seen so far this was definitely one of the better ones.

Plain forgettable

The Fate of Lee Khan

by King Hu
Also known as
Ying Chun Ge Zhi Fengbo
Specifics
Taiwan, Hong Kong [1973] - 105m
Genre
Action
More info on
rating
1.5*/5.0*
The Fate of Lee Khan poster

A lesser entry in King Hu's oeuvre. It's clear by now that he loves remote inns, but without some decent fight choreography and with a strong focus on a storyline that fails to excite, it takes way too long to get going. It's all a little disappointing, especially since Hu has some decent entries in his oeuvre that predate this one by several years.

Come Drink with Me

by King Hu
Also known as
Da Zui Xia
Specifics
Hong Kong [1966] - 95m
Genre
Action, Crime
More info on
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Come Drink with Me poster