King Hu, A Touch of Zen (still), 1971; image: courtesy Janus Films


A Touch of Zen

Part of Modern Cinema: Criterion Collection and Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Modern Cinema’s Founding Supporters are Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein.

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A visionary masterpiece of Chinese cinema and martial-arts moviemaking, A Touch of Zen depicts the journey of Yang, a fugitive noblewoman in disguise who seeks refuge in a remote, allegedly haunted village. The sanctuary she and her companions find is shattered when a nefarious swordsman uncovers her identity, pitting them against legions of blade-wielding opponents. At once a wuxia film, the tale of a spiritual quest, and a study in human nature, A Touch of Zen is an epic of the highest order, with breathtaking action choreography, stunning widescreen landscapes, and innovative editing.

A Touch of Zen will remain Hu’s official masterpiece: a repository of his unique cinematic artistry and further proof that Asian action cinema is one of the glories of world film culture.” —David Bordwell,

“The undisputed poet laureate of
wuxia films, Hu treats his genre material as if it were high art, balancing action and atmospherics in each battle.”—David Fear, Time Out’s “50 Best Foreign Films of All Time”

“[A Touch of Zen]… has a core of action scenes that transform Peking Opera stagecraft into sheer flights of imagination.” —Tony Rayns, Time Out London

Film Details

Country: Taiwan
Language: Mandarin
Year: 1971
Running time: 180 min
Director: King Hu
Producers: Liang Fang Hsia-wu
Writers: King Hu, Songling Pu
Cinematographers: Chou Yeh-hsing, Hua Hui-ying
Editors: King Hu, Wang Chin-chen
Music: Tai Kong Ng, Ta Chiang Wu
Print Source: Janus Films

Films and schedules may be subject to change.