Thursday, December 15, 2016

Final Blog

At the beginning of this class I did not know anything about King Hu.  I had never watched any of his works before, but I was exposed to other films that utilized elements from his films.  From this class I have learned who King Hu is and the amount of influence he had on Chinese films and other films as well.  By analyzing his works I was able to learn things some of his camera shots techniques, stylistic humor, and witty scene layouts.

One of my favorites films was Raining in the Mountain.  I really liked this film because the underlying message that it conveyed which was something along the lines of the most unlikely is capable of change.  I also enjoyed the humor that King Hu placed within this film. Another one of my favorite films was Come Drink With Me.  It was interesting to see Golden Swallow as a martial artist since she is female.  I enjoyed seeing a female role as a lead martial artist, it feels empowering to women to insert such a role.  One of the last films that I liked was the Valiant Ones.  I think at this point I started to realize how King Hu displayed deaths.  In some of his martial arts movies he wrote the deaths of characters almost in a comical sense.  I kind of enjoyed this light hearted feature.

One of my least favorite films was Painted Skin.  I felt that since it was more on the spiritual side a lot of the comical elements were lost, which was one of the features I enjoyed about his films.  Another one of my least favorite films was Sons of Good Earth.  The choreography of the martial arts felt like it lacked fluidity and I think that took away from the angles and shots King Hu took in order to obtain that footage.  I do understand that this was his starting point and that perhaps choreography has not developed yet.  One of the last films that was my least favorite was Legend of the Mountain.  It felt like this one lacked the comical elements that his other non-martial arts film did not have.  I feel like there was more room for creativity when there was choreography for the martial arts sequences to insert comical aspects.

King Hu played a substantial role in martial arts cinema.  I felt that because of his experimental capabilities and his willingness to create something for the purpose of vision were some qualities he possessed that made his works what they are.   The footage that he took was mostly based off of the skills of his actors and editing. Which was different in comparison to early on special effects techniques such as; fast or slow motion, animation, etc.  He even went to the extent of creating contraptions for actors to utilize in order to highlight some kind of strength or agility.  Like the tower he built for A Touch of Zen when Yang did a diving jump from the top of the bamboo trees towards her foes on the forest floor.  In order to make the movement seem fast and enable the actor to achieve the correct amount of speed King Hu went to the extent of building a tower by a river and had the stunt double jump from the top while he filmed the movement from below.  And some of the sequences he planned were entertaining.  Like from Come Drink With Me, the sequence where Golden Swallow catches something between her chopsticks was entertaining.  It was a display of her set of skills but at the same time it was done in a way that was interesting for the audience to see.  Other filmmakers have used some of the elements from King Hu's films.  Like in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon the fight sequence in the bamboo forest was taken from King Hu's A Touch of Zen.  The characters even fought similarly, the diving sequence that I mentioned previously was almost replicated in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Painted Skin

After watching King Hu's film Painted Skin I realized what I enjoy about his films.  Usually King Hu inserts certain comical aspects into his films and that's one of the elements that I really enjoy.  I felt that this film was a little bit more on the serious side.  It was an interesting story and artistically I did enjoy other aspects, but I felt it lacked that light hearted feature that King Hu seems to insert.  I did like the scene where Taoist Master is battling the Yin-Yang King.  I thought the choreography the Taoist Master had with his staff moved fluidly and the magical attacks they launched at one another ended in the iconic smoke screen.  I also liked the field of peach trees.  I thought it was a nice element because it was a desolate place and the trees were bare.  It kind of helped to bring the plot over to the next section with the addition of the Taoist Master.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

After watching the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon I noticed quite a few elements that drew on inspiration from King Hu's films.  One of them was the bamboo forest fight sequence where Jen and Li Mu Bai are gracefully gliding through the trees.  That particular scene is similar to the bamboo scene from A Touch of Zen.  In A Touch of Zen we saw the characters run along the base of the bamboo trees to the top and then dive down from the top of the three to attack. Similarly in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, we see the characters run along to the top of the bamboo trees. However, they stay suspended among the tops branches and fight in the air not the ground. Li Mu Bai did do some sort of dive attack against Jen, as the branches bent towards the ground and they continued to cross swords. That sequence was characteristic of King Hu's diving attack scenes he filmed.Image result for crouching tiger hidden dragon

Friday, November 4, 2016

Legend of the Mountain

I thought Legend of the Mountain was an interesting movie because it drew from a genre so different from martial arts.  I could tell that King Hu was experimenting with different effects and techniques.  Like for example, the yellow smoke, the flashes in the ending scenes, and also the sequences where Ho is in a trance from the drumming.  It's was interesting to see King Hu implement those kinds of techniques into the movie.  There was also a very strong representation of instruments in the movie.  Practically all the ghosts played an instrument.  There was the flutist, Melody played the drums and there were also handheld drums and cymbals included in the film as well.  I wonder if that was a purposeful representation, to include so many instruments into the film.  Meaning that King Hu included instruments to help build on that mystical legend ghost story.  Or if it was for experimental purposes, so that he could experiment with sound manipulation and try new techniques in creating sound throughout the film with the different instruments. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Raining in the Mountain

Raining in the Mountain is probably one of my favorite King Hu films so far.  I think more for the underlying message that the movie conveys.  I think stories about the unlikely underdog becoming an empowered individual that is able to overcome their own bad situation is truly inspirational.  So seeing the convicted criminal being able to overcome his past and change his ways was something I liked.  It was also nice how he wasn't even trying to obtain the position of abbot; because he was a selfless individual he was more likely to carry on the teachings of the previous abbot.  I also liked that the two parties who were in pursuit of the scroll received copies of it while the original one was burnt.  I felt that that gave it a more spiritual/religious meaning behind the movie.  That there is something more beyond the materialistic world; it almost felt as if that was an allegory for enlightenment.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Valiant Ones

In the movie The Valiant Ones I am beginning to notice the way King Hu displays death or injuries in his films.  Like for example, when the character Wu Re-shi was violently hit in the head with the blade during the last fight.  That sequence was actually slightly humorous because she was accidently hit, only because someone moved away at the last minute.  Or even the dramatic ending to the fight where Hakatatsu is decapitated and everyone ends up dying.  All these sequences deal with a serious topic, death, but King Hu adds a twist to it.  He does glorify and exaggerates the sequences where characters die, but at the same time the deaths are slightly humorous.  It makes it easier for the audience to watch as characters die and doesn't allow you to get fully absorbed by their passing.  I kind of like his sight twist on how he displays death.  For me, it's a different kind of experience when I'm watching characters get hurt or die.  It sort of reminds me that this is fiction and it keeps me more uplifted.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fate of Lee Khan

I really liked how in this King Hu film he highlighted the role of female fighters. In some of his other films he did include females who were capable of fighting; like Golden Swallow from "Come Drink With Me" and Yang Hui-zhen from "A Touch of Zen".  Even though in the previous films he did include female characters there usually was only one or two of them fighting.  This film had more than two skilled female fighters.  Since it included a larger amount of females in power I thought that helped to highlight the females as the main presence.  In the other films, it seemed as though the female fighters were more of a side-kick; they were a minority in comparison to male fighters.  This film helps to level out the ground between male and female fighters.  Bringing females on to an equal standing in comparison to male fighters.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Touch of Zen pt.II

I enjoyed watching part II of A Touch of Zen, the whole plot to deceive the army that the house was haunted was comical.  Based off of the previous content of the beginning when Sheng-tsai believed the house was haunted, I thought it helped advance the plot with a comical touch.  Another thing that I noticed, but I'm not sure if it was intentional, was when the army encountered the "ghosts" they experienced the "three monkeys of their divine pantheon" or also known as "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil".  The army first heard the chime of the bells as the wind began to blow.  Next, the army saw multiple flames.  And then next they began speaking to each other about all the bad deeds they've committed so their souls are tainted.  I'm not entirely sure if this was intentional, or if it had any sort of connection to the three monkeys. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Touch of Zen pt.I

I think after watching a couple of King Hu's films I noticed he uses humorous aspects in his movies.  I really enjoy these kinds of aspects added into his films, it helps to make the film easier to watch and keeps me engaged.  In the first part of A Touch of Zen, I really liked the way he portrayed the relationship between Sheng-tsai and his mother.  It was very humorous and you could really relate to the characters.  As I was watching the beginning, I thought that the spider webs that Sheng-tsai encounters while searching the outside of the house was foreshadowed his the scene when he stumbled across the trap.  Spider's use their webs to ensnare their prey, so I thought that when Sheng-tsai came across the trap within the house it kind of showed how he was almost ensnared by the setup. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Dragon Gate Inn

In Come Drink With Me, I really liked the playful representations the characters skills.  Like when the bowl of stew was thrown across the inn and landed perfectly in front of the soldier.  And during one of the skirmishes where Hsiao catches the arrow and then reshoots it through the glass pot.  Or in the scene where Yu Chien's daughter demands the wine from the other soldier.  She is able to catch the sword easily when he tries to stab her.  Although the scene is dealing with a serious situation where Yu Chien's daughter is being threatened to be killed, it's played off as almost comical.  I thought those little touches of playful skill demonstrations made the fight sequences more interesting and made the characters more fun to watch. Although what they were fighting for was a serious kind of conflict, I think adding a touch of those kinds of interesting sequences helped to develop the scenes even more.  It keeps the audience interested and entertained without taking away from the plot. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Come Drink with Me

In the movie Come Drink with Me the protagonist, Golden Swallow, is a female.  She is introduced to us as being someone of excellent skills and is even able to defeat some of the male characters.  Her empowerment is pretty groundbreaking for a film especially one released in 1966.  Golden Swallow's empowerment is shown, but only to a certain degree.  There are moments where she is still treated as a 'damsel in distress' by Fan Da-Pei.  For example, when she first infiltrates the bandits hideout, Fan Da-Pei is secretly in the shadows giving her assistance as she fights the bandits.  On top of that, Golden Swallow would have never known the whereabouts of the bandits if it wasn't for Fan Da-Pei tipping her off.  Another example would be when Golden Swallow is shot with one of the poison darts from the bandits.  Fan Da-Pei nurses her back to help and even protects her while she is still ill.  Throughout the film we do see Golden Swallow as an empowered female, but at the same time we also see Fan Da-Pei taking care of her.
Another thing that I thought was interesting was how the character Jade Faced Tiger was presented.  He was always clothed in white and even his face was stark white.  White is usually the color that represents purity and in a sense the good side.  When I think about color symbolism I automatically think of Yin and Yang.  If you think in terms of Yin and Yang, the color black represents Yin which is the dark side and white represents Yang which is the light side.  I think it was ironic that Jade Faced Tiger was the complete opposite of how he was shown.  And I wonder if the choice of his character design was purposely put there to show that sort of irony.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sons of Good Earth

I enjoyed watching the film Sons of Good Earth directed by King Hu.  Even though it touched base on a serious situation China was facing at the time, there were still moments of humor included into the film.  I found that it helped make the mood a little bit light-hearted and the content was easier to digest for the viewers.  The duality of some of the Chinese people who worked under the Japanese but still tried to help their fellow Chinese was very inspiring.  It helped recognize the courage of the those few that were probably never celebrated after the occupation.
I did think that the fight choreography could've used more work but the story and characters helped make the film successful.  Especially since this is one of King Hu's earlier films and he is still getting to know the cinematics it didn't bother me as much that the martial arts portion lacked an intense sequence.Image result for sons of good earth king huImage result for sons of good earth king hu