King Hu Reinvents The Martial Arts Film With An Electrifying And Spellbinding Tale Of Revenge
New 4K restoration
The powerful eunuch Cao Shaoqin sows terror among his people. The secret police have just executed the loyal Yu Qian, tutor to the prince and Minister of Defense, wrongly accused of helping foreigners. His three children are themselves condemned to exile outside the country. But Cao Shaoqin actually plans to exterminate them on the way: he orders his two loyal commanders to prepare an ambush at the Dragon Inn, located near the border. This place, usually deserted during the season, is soon invaded by members of the secret police and by mysterious fighters, who have come to protect the young Yu...
Made in 1967, Dragon Inn is King Hu's first Taiwanese production, following his hasty departure from Hong Kong where the director was under contract with Shaw Brothers. In line with his previous feature film, L'Hirondelle d'or (1966), Dragon Inn is a gem of a martial arts film that establishes the reputation of this erudite and perfectionist filmmaker who elevated the genre of wuxia ("Chinese sword film") to the rank of a true work of art. Set in China during the Ming dynasty – as is often the case with King Hu – this film returns to the political conflicts existing at that time by opting for a hybrid cinematographic form, somewhere between the road-movie – through the exile of children Yu – and the camera – the many scenes located at the inn. King Hu deploys a gallery of charismatic characters embodied by a formidable troupe of actors and led by the brave Shih Chun and the intrepid young Shang Kuan Ling-Feng. For many actors, this is their very first film role and the start of a long career for some, like Bai Ying and Hsu Feng.
Dragon Inn is a real revolution in the martial arts film: King Hu stands out for his way of composing a plan, choreographing the fight scenes, finding the musical arrangements that sound right and handling the art of dialogue, in sometimes venturing into the unexpected terrain of comedy. King Hu's first big public success in Asia, Dragon Inn will largely inspire Asian cinema and will even be the subject of two remakes by directors Raymond Lee and Tsui Hark, before its theatrical release in its sublime restored 4K version.
DRAGON INN (1967 – Colors – 111 mins) new 4K restoration
SUPPLEMENTS * . PREFACE BY PIERRE RISSENT
. FORCES HOSTEL (15 mins) “Sometimes movement creates a 3D effect. […] The subjective camera intensifies the suspense, reminiscent of The Train Will Whistle Three Times and the films of Sergio Leone. An essay by David Cairns, critic.
. NEWS A look back at the enthusiasm for the film in Taipei when it was released in theaters in 1967 through unpublished newsreels.