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RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN

Hong Kong, 1978 (MIFF 1980, Programme 16)

Director: King Hu

King Hu is already known to Festival audiences for his brilliant film The Valiant Ones (MFF, 1975), and since that film he has now completed two productions, Legend of the Mountain and Raining in the Mountain, shot back to back over 15 months in Korea.

Since their completion, King Hu's name is back among the leading directors of the world and his work is once more being seen and discussed in many quarters and quarterlies.

As an eminent sinologist, King Hu's films are always based on historical records and one of the reasons for his long shooting schedules is his meticulous attention to all matters of detail. In addition to this, however, he is a master film-maker and his films have an extraordinary sweep and grace. He is one of the few major directors in the world still using cinemascope (a ratio still widely used in Hong Kong, though), and his employment of it can be compared to such a master as Nicholas Ray.

With regard to Raining in the Mountain, Tony Rayns wrote for the film's London festival appearance - "King Hu describes his major new film as dealing with a 'power struggle in a Ming Dynasty monastery', but that tells only half the story. The retiring Abbot of the huge San Pao Temple must choose between his chief disciples, who are rivals for the succession. He seeks advice from secular friends, but two of them come to the Temple with an ulterior motive: they will go to any lengths to possess the Temple's greatest treasure, a cop of the Mahayana Sutra hand-written by the 7th century monk Tripitaka. The resulting intrigues maintain a scrupulous balance between spiritual strength and physical struggle. As you'd expect from the director of A Touch of Zen and The Fate of Lee Khan, there are moments of great beauty, spectacle, humour and suspense, as well as occasional eruptions of stylised violence. As a whole, though, Raining in the Mountain breaks new ground for Kinc Hu. Its excellent cast is headed by Hsu Feng and Shih Chung (the leads in Zen), and its photography (by newcomer Henry Chan) is supremely fluid."

King Hu Filmography: Born Peking 1931

Sons and Daughters of the Goo Earth (1965), Come Drink with Me (1966), Dragon Gate Inn (1968), Four Moods (episode titled Anger) (1970), Touch of Zen (1972), The Fate of Lee Khan (1974), The Valiant Ones (1975), Raining in the Mountain (1979), Legend of the Mountain (1979).

See also...

THE VALIANT ONES

The Valiant Ones was made in Taiwan by Chinese film-maker King Hu, who has already directed A Touch of Zen, and The Fate ot Lee Khan. His latest film is set in the sixteenth century. Japanese pirates ... More »

A TOUCH OF ZEN

The film is based on a tale by P'u Sung- ... Ling , a poor scholar, who lived at the ... end of the 17th century. The director ... combined the filming of “The Heroic ... Maid”, a simple story ... More »

ALL THE KING'S MEN

Shih-chung, King of the Chou Dynasty ... in the 1st century , suffers from epilepsy ... and becomes addicted to the medicine ... prescribed by Occultist Lee, who is conspiring to usurp the throne ... More »

COME DRINK WITH ME

"Cheng Pei-Pei is the original swordswoman. Before Michelle Yeoh, before Brigitte Lin, before Maggie Cheung and certainly before Carrie-Ann flippin' Moss, she rode out of the east and into the wuxia ... More »

THE WOLF MEN

Pity the poor wolf. They've been the heavies in song and dance since the beginnings of recorded history. Garnished with Disney clips of "Red Riding Hood" and "The Three Little Pigs", this film shows ... More »

Quetico

The camera captures the original spirit of Quetico Park &ndash: over a million acres of unspoiled wilderness reserved as canoe country. ... More »

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