A Touch of Zen was probably my favorite King Hu film so far. The beautiful cinematography combined with the interesting characters and story made it really hard to tear my eyes away from the screen, and I really do think that it deserves the praise that it gets. The fight scenes were also always impressive and are a large step up from the films that came before it, in my opinion. Though the second half of the latter half of the film has heavy Buddhist undertones and ended in a way that was a bit unexpected, it still did not seem as if it was completely out of place.
My favorite parts of the film were the ambush of the East Chamber guards in the abandoned fort and the chilling aftermath with Ku, admiring his handiwork. The scene of the ambush by “ghosts” is, so to speak, fiendishly hilarious and pitiful, as the reactions of these guards mimic those who walk through a haunted house, but only during the aftermath does both the viewer and Ku realize the weight of his actions; he slaughtered a whole army in cold blood. The chilling scene of where he walks through the battle-torn abandoned fort and his amusement of his handiwork, laughing all the while, is a very well-made scene, as for a moment, I lost sight of the original Ku, the painter and scholar, and all I saw was an egotistical maniac, making my hair stand on end and my blood ran cold. It was a really well-crafted scene and was extremely memorable.
For those looking for a lengthy, yet well-done movie, beautiful cinematography plus an interesting story and cast makes for A Touch of Zen definitely worth checking out.