A Touch of Zen

The pioneering wuxia film A Touch of Zen joins Eureka’s Masters of Cinema series

King Hu’s 1971 masterpiece A Touch of Zen tore Chinese cinema from its earthly origins and thrust it into the sky. With its ethereal cinematography and spiritual sway, it led wuxia - a genre of martial arts films, literally "armed hero" in Mandarin - into a new era.

Eureka’s new dual format release of the film, in a limited edition of 2,000, includes a 47-minute documentary on the director, a video essay by filmmaker and critic David Cairns, and a 36-page booklet that features the original short story.

Featuring spectral fights and forests shrouded in mist, A Touch of Zen created the visual language later seen in the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and House of Flying Daggers (2004), while embracing a Buddhist symbolism previously absent from the genre.

Though it runs for more than three hours, the film has a simple plot: when the ineffectual painter Gu (Shih Jun) stumbles upon the fugitive Yang (Hsu Fung), he quickly becomes embroiled in her plans to take down a corrupt eunuch. The rest of the film follows their struggle.