Explore China of the Past and Present In Trailers for Films from King Hu and Wang Bing

Written by on April 13, 2016 

a touch of zen king hu

It would require two big restorations and come down to a limited, roll-out release of three films in total, but we might have a fine summer of Chinese cinema ahead of us. Janus Films have restored King Hu‘s legendary wuxia pictures A Touch of Zen and Dragon Inn — which, based on these first previews, have been given treatments that warrant the ticket price. (The former begins playing at Film Forum on April 22 and the latter starts its run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on May 6 before expanding.) I’m sure the inevitable Criterion releases will do well for those who can’t make it, however.

On the somewhat heavier side is Wang Bing‘s four-hour ‘Til Madness Do Us Part, a documentary set within “an isolated mental institution in rural Zhaotong,” and whose very complimentary reviews have brought up comparisons to Titicut Follies and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next. Its theatrical run, the first for any Wang feature in the U.S., kicks off on June 9.

See them below:


At risk of being captured and executed, Yang (Hsu Feng), a noblewoman and fugitive hiding in a small village, must escape into the wilderness with a shy scholar and two aides. There, the quartet face a massive group of fighters and are joined by a band of Buddhist monks surprisingly skilled in the art of battle. King Hu’s grandest work, A Touch of Zen is at once a martial arts film, a spiritual quest, and a study in human nature, taking Hu’s cinematic innovations to a breathtaking level. Janus Films is proud to present the original uncut version of this classic in a new 4K digital restoration. A TOUCH OF ZEN opens Friday, April 22 at Film Forum with national rollout to follow.

The Chinese wuxia-martial arts-picture was never the same after King Hu’s legendary Dragon Inn. During the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor’s Minister of Defense is framed and executed by a powerful court eunuch, and his family is sent into exile and pursued by secret police. As the chase ensues, a mysterious band of strangers begins to gather at the remote Dragon Gate Inn, where paths (and swords) will cross. With its use of vast, open-air landscapes, creatively choreographed fight scenes, and innovative editing that make its protagonists appear to literally fly through the air, Dragon Inn rewrote the rules of the genre. This thrilling landmark of film history returns to the screen in a new, beautifully restored 4K digital transfer from the original film elements. DRAGON INN opensFriday, May 6th at the Film Society of Lincoln Center with national rollout to follow.

Master director Wang Bing documents the inmates of an isolated mental institution in rural Zhaotong, in southwest China’s Yunnan province, in ‘TIL MADNESS DO US PART. Within the facility’s gates, the patients are confined to locked floors of a single building. Once locked on that floor, with little contact from the outside world, anything goes. The facility’s inmates have been committed for different reasons: perhaps they have a developmental disability; perhaps they committed murder; perhaps they angered local officials. But once inside, they all share the same life and cramped living quarters, staring at a barren, iron-fenced courtyard and seeking comfort and human warmth wherever they can find it.

'til madness do us part

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