Archive for A Touch of Zen

Inn Fighting

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on November 15, 2019 by dcairns

Got my copy of king Hu’s THE FATE OF LEE KHAN, featuring a video essay by Anne Billson and myself. Fortuitously, Anne knew the film well and was cat-sitting for us when the job came in. We got back from Bologna, I recorded our cat-sitter’s words, and wrote my own comments to fit in around them.

Have now done, or co-done, essays on DRAGON INN, A TOUCH OF ZEN, TFOLK, LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN, and have just finished RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN. Which leaves THE VALIANT ONES, which I hope will be next.

Well, not next — I have another two lined up, but I’ll tell you about those another day.

You’ll like TFOLK — lots of sneaking around in an inn, and then lots of fighting — classic Hu.

Question — who is King Hu receiving his 1975 Cannes Grand Prix for A TOUCH OF ZEN from? Hu is the one on the right. The statuesque lady with the ratted hair has an Ann-Margaret quality and also a Pamela Tiffin quality and does not seem to be a member of the jury, because she ain’t Jeanne Moreau, Lea Massari or Yuliya Solntseva.

Whoever it is, it seems an amusing combo.

New Arrivals

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by dcairns


Two from Masters of Cinema, on my window sill —

For mysterious reasons the picture is empinkened like faded Eastmancolor.

A TOUCH OF ZEN has a video essay by me and editor Timo Langer.

A NEW LEAF has a video essay by me with editor Stephen Horne. And a text piece by chum Glenn Kenny, the second time I’ve shared disc-space with the bard of Brooklyn (THE GANG’S ALL HERE is highly recommended).

Buy both and you can decide which of my editors you like best, or whether you prefer King Hu or Elaine May. I like both! It’s like snails and oysters, with me.

The Indiegogo campaign for THE NORTHLEACH HORROR is raging away — we have reached halfway to our target already, thanks to some super-generous patrons of the arts. Am worried that we may have exhausted our supply of really generous dedicated friends, family and followers — prove me wrong by helping out, or spread the word!

Inn Sight

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on October 20, 2015 by dcairns


I have contributed a video essay to the Eureka! Masters of Cinema dual-format Blu-ray/DVD of King Hu’s DRAGON INN. Working with editor Stephen Horne we hacked this thing together in record time to fill a gap left by another contributor who had to drop out. This leaves me looking a bit opportunistic since I wrote about seeing this film for the first time at Bologna last year, and I was a complete newbie to wuxia at the time, by my own admission, so when did I find time to become an expert?

Well, I didn’t, but you can learn the basic info quickly enough, and then I relied on what I could say with confidence simply from looking at the film itself, close analysis, stylistic observation, funny comments. Hopefully it works, and I know it’s very snappily cut together by Mr. Horne. And MoC were pleased enough to give me the job of doing another piece for A TOUCH OF ZEN, coming soon.

I have another commission from them also but I won’t tell you about that yet…

You can buy the discs from the evil organisation below and thereby help support Shadowplay — and also get yourself some marvelous swordfighting high-leaping entertainment.

Dragon Inn (1967) [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)