ACM 382: King Hu
Taking ACM 382, I was hoping to learn about different filmmakers, directors, authors etc. and on how their different style of directing had impacted the generations of filmmaking. When I had heard that this class only focused on one director, King Hu, it did feel strange to talk about just one director in the class. At first, I had not heard about King Hu, but as George had explained about how King Hu had shaped martial arts cinema, I had thought that yeah, I can give this class a chance. Now looking back at all the films that I had watched this semester, I can say that I’m glad that I had stayed in this class, learning about King Hu every week.
Three of my most favorite King Hu films in this class was Come Drink With me, Dragon Gate Inn, and Fate of Lee Khan. One of the main reasons that these three are my favorite films is because all three had female fighters. From most of the Twentieth-Century films that I have watched so far does not have a female who is able to fend for herself and has to rely on a male protagonist to save her. In King Hu’s films, however, female fighters in films can be defined as having a King Hu aesthetic to them.
Three of my least favorite King Hu films is the Valiant Ones, Legend of the Mountains, and Painted Skin because the concepts in these films were confusing for me to follow, especially Painted Skin. These films were interesting, with one of the films followed the same concept, whereas Legend of The Mountain and Painted Skin follows a horror/ghost story plot that’s different from the usual King Hu films. They sort of dragged off during the film and it got confusing towards the end.
As I see fit, I think King Hu has impacted martial art cinema by his concept of his films. His films were successful in it’s time, which also helped actors that were cast in his films become famous. King Hu even had no experience in the form of martial arts, but he has proven that anything can be articulated as martial arts, like a form of dance. Using influences and elements of Chinese traditional opera, a form of dance can look like a form of martial arts, which can be seen in Cheng Pei-Pei’s scene in Come Drink With Me. The film’s mis-en-scene can be clearly defined as being an influence by King Hu, the setting at an Inn being one of most defining aesthetic in King Hu’s films. King Hu has also influenced other filmmakers such as Ang Lee. In Ang Lee’s film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with the film’s polished style of martial arts and wire action, you can clearly see most of the film’s aesthetics and mis-en-scene that are heavily influenced by King Hu. Even casting Cheng Pei-Pei as the films antagonist, you can’t help but still see her as that young female warrior in Come Drink With Me, which is channelled through Jen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.