Tsui Hark’s groundbreaking 1983 wuxia epic ZU: WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN recently got a fancy new blu-ray release, inspiring me to finally get around to seeing it. In fact I watched it right before I watched IRON MONKEY for the first time, so that was a hell of a night of filling in (some of) my Hong Kong cinema blind spots.
I can’t say I liked ZU as much as IRON MONKEY, because I can’t say I followed it as well. Like much of Tsui’s work it has a haphazard, is-he-making-this-up-as-he-goes-along? feel to the storytelling, which here I think is a combination of his sensibilities and the difficulty of someone from another culture (me) processing a DUNE-like cinematic condensation of a famous 1932 Chinese fantasy novel steeped in mythology I don’t necessarily have a context for. But I can say that it’s an enjoyable fun house ride, an absolute visual delight, and a key missing link in my understanding of Tsui’s filmography. Everything else he’s made makes more sense after seeing this. I guess it’s kinda like if I’d seen all the modern Spielberg movies and then saw E.T. and JAWS for the first time. (read the rest of this shit…)