Before taking this class, I was completely unaware of King Hu and his work. Most of what knew of Chinese films included Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Bruce Lee, and that most were kung-fu based films. I’ve learned a great deal from this class, such as the difference between wuxia and kung-fu films, and many film elements he utilized that would later on inspire and influence many filmmakers today. After becoming familiar with his work, I have gained a greater understanding of Chinese cinema and the influence King Hu has had in the film industry.
The first of my favorites was Come Drink with Me, for its innovative use of the strong female lead. The second of my favorites was Dragon Inn, for its strong characters, intriguing cinematic elements, and consistent action sequences.The third of my favorites was A Touch of Zen, for its intricate choreography, complex plot, and its metaphysical elements.
My least favorites were The Valiant Ones, Legend of the Mountain, and Painted Skin. In The Valiant Ones, the plot was good, but the climax left the heroes with a greater loss than necessary. In Legend of the Mountain, the overuse of special effects and its confusing plot left a lot to be desired. And in Painted Skin, the film relied too much on star quality and left the main characters in the shadows.
Most of King Hu’s influential work consisted of everything up to The Valiant Ones. In Come Drink with Me, King Hu was one of the first to utilize strong female characters(many whom take on the lead role), an element that can be seen in his later films as well as films that would come after, such as in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The most influential element of King Hu comes from the iconic bamboo forest scene, which has been drawn upon throughout most of his career, and another element that is seen in Crouching Tiger as well as House of Flying Daggers and Return of the One-Armed Swordsman. King Hu was also known for his use of symbolic metaphors through cinematic editing. In A Touch of Zen, he incorporates foreshadowing through shots of spiders and webs, hinting at the trap the heroes spring upon the Eastern Agency’s forces. Another technique he is famous for is the sequential editing of shots to create fantastical illusions and effects, as we see in many of his film such as Come Drink with Me, A Touch of Zen, and Dragon Inn.