A Touch Of Zen review

Ang Lee has held his hands up and admitted that King Hu's stately 1969 movie was a major influence on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And - after the slightly tedious first hour set in a sleepy town outside Peking - you can easily see why. The second and third acts are packed with whirring, acrobatic, tree-climbing sword scrapping as a small band of unjustly outlawed rebels take on the forces of an evil government official in ancient China.

However, also like Crouching Tiger, A Touch Of Zen is less an action movie than a thoughtful look at the nature of life, love and destiny. The background presence of a bunch of peacefully-orientated, kung-fu monks gives the whole thing a brain to balance out all the hacking and slashing. And, as events build towards a strange and mystical ending, it's difficult not to feel moved by it all.

Looking as fresh as if it was made yesterday, rather than three decades ago, A Touch Of Zen is Eastern cinema at its most dynamic and grown-up. Think you're a martial-arts fan? Seek it out, grasshopper.

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