Director: King Hu

120 mins, Hong Kong-Taiwan, 1979, Subtitled

Filmed back-to-back with Legend of the Mountain between 1977–78, legendary wuxi director King Hu brings us another daring film shot in and around the 8th century Bulguksa Buddhist temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in South Korea.

Professional thieves White Fox (Hsu Feng), and her accomplice Gold Lock (Wu Ming-tsai), and the sneering Chang Cheng arrive in the secluded Ming Dynasty mountain monastery planning to steal a sacred handwritten scroll – the only surviving copy of the “Mahayana Sutra”. This is a book of instruction for Buddhist monks valued for being personally handwritten by the monk Xuanzang in the era of the Tang Dynasty.

Intrigue, spying, and spirituality mixed with fight scenes, chases and acrobatics where the characters move around as though they were weightless ‘through the temple’s twists and turns’, Hu uses space focusing on ‘the way that the spaces within and around the temple define movement’. Stunning stuff!

Screening as part of the East Asia Film Festival Ireland 2021, March 25th to March 28th.

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