HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
Bloodthirsty
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Demonic
Night Drive
Luca
Prospect
Toll, The
Last Bus, The
Purple Sea
   
 
Newest Articles
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Legend of the Mountain She Bangs The Drum
Year: 1979
Director: King Hu
Stars: Shih Chun, Hsu Feng, Sylvia Chang, Chen Hui Lou, Rainbow Hsu, Sun Yueh, Tien Feng, Tung Lin, Wu Chia-Hsiang, Wu Ming-Tsai
Genre: Horror, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Stories of ghosts, spirits and demons have always been popular across China, but have you heard this one, the tale of a scholar named Ho (Shih Chun) who after completing his studies found work difficult to come by, and had to opt to being paid as a copyist instead, that was a writer who copied out books for this was the eleventh century and the printing press had yet to be invented. Even then, there were slim pickings for a man in that profession, and he found he had to move to an isolated but picturesque region where a sutra, or collection of holy writings, needed to be duplicated at a temple. It sounded simple enough, but what if certain entities were not happy with this?

Legend of the Mountain was the last film of the nineteen-seventies for King Hu, the man who had revolutionised the art of the Hong Kong cinema industry by proving just because a kung fu flick was entertainment, didn't mean it couldn't be poetic too. That had been back in the sixties with Come Drink with Me, however, by the stage he made this and its more obscure companion piece in 1979, he was not the box office draw he had been, resulting in this effort, which ran over three hours, being drastically cut to increase its commercial chances. Alas, for years it was the most widely distributed variation, if indeed it was distributed at all, until the full-length incarnation reappeared.

In a way, this had been overcome by events in the film world in another style, as the Hong Kong New Wave of the eighties had seen a bunch of reimaginings of old favourites with added, newfangled special effects work, and so it was Tsui Hark produced a sort of remake of Legend of the Mountain, only snappier, more commercialised, and with little of the pretensions, called A Chinese Ghost Story. That was a huge hit across the world, spawning sequels and was even remade itself, further damning Hu's endeavour to the past where it would be forgotten, not by design exactly, but because it missed its chance to make a mark other than as an inspiration for a more successful enterprise eight years later.

Nevertheless, if you ever had faith that talent will endure, assuming it had been recorded in some variety, then the re-emergence of Hu's fantasy tale would be cause for cheering, as by the twenty-first century his work outwith his sixties era was being reassessed, leading A Touch of Zen, for example, to be hailed as a classic unsung in its day. It would seem Legend of the Mountain, or Shan zhong zhuan qi as it was originally called, was awarded the same treatment, which was good because although there was something to be said for Hark's more compact version, there was definite quality in Hu's vision where he attempted to lift what was a basic folk tale of a kind told across the globe in various incarnations and mixing up of details, to the level of a masterpiece of Chinese art.

If he did not quite achieve that, it was not for want of trying as he focused on the natural world to ally his efforts with the beauty of the flora and fauna, both captivating and terrible in equal measure: there was possibly the greatest symbolic sex scene ever here, which saw the participants on a swing, separately, intercut with leafy glades and closeups of insects mating - but also colourful spiders on their webs to imply our hero has been snared by something monstrous. When he shows up at the retreat he is supposed to conduct his task in, there is hardly anybody about (does the vanishing flute player count?), but he soon likes the look of Melody (soon-to-be powerful producer Hsu Feng), the daughter of the governess there. However, did he like her enough to be abruptly married to her, not remembering the ceremony at all? And what of the equally comely Cloud (Sylvia Chang, best known as an actress for the Mad Mission series), is she to be trusted? To say more would break the spell of mystery, but if Hu could get self-consciously arty, and indulged himself too far, there was plenty to admire if you chose to immerse yourself in this fantasy realm. Music by Wu Ta Chiang.

[The Eureka Blu-ray is a godsend to fans of this film as well as those curious enough to try it, looking and sounding better than ever, and with featurettes and a booklet as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1956 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (3)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: