A quintessential entryway into the highly stylized, tightly choreographed wuxia genre of martial arts cinema. DRAGON INN was a global breakthrough for the form’s greatest practitioner, King Hu. Its influence remains incalculable, from its annihilation of traditional expectations of what kind of role an actress should inhabit (also chipped away at by Hu’s previous masterpiece COME DRINK WITH ME), to the formation of many of the genre’s archetypes – such as the Eunuch, the Swordswoman, and the Family of Murdered Loyal Officials – that are still recognizable in the martial arts films of today.
It’s the middle of the Ming Dynasty. The powerful eunuch Cao (Pai Ying) has killed the Loyal Minister Yu, and Yu’s children are exiled to the border, whereupon Cao undertakes efforts to massacre the remnants of the family. As Yu’s children take refuge in the Dragon Gate Inn, Xiao the righteous swordsman (Shih Jun) and the surviving loyalists of Minister Yu engage in a series of battles to the death against the forces of the blood thirsty eunuch.
After having returned to the spotlight in 2003 as the backdrop for Tsai Ming-liang’s modern classic GOODBYE DRAGON INN, Hu’s film is again resurrected by way of the dazzling 2014 4K restoration presented here.
Director: King Hu
Cast: Polly Ling-Feng Shang-Kuan, Shih Chun, Bai Ying
Language: Mandarin (with English subtitles)
Genre: Martial Arts, Wu Xia
Runtime: 111 minutes
- New 1080p transfer of the film on Blu-ray, with a progressive encode on the DVD
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Archival newsreel footage from the film’s première
- Hostel Forces, a new video essay by critic David Cairns
- 36-PAGE BOOKLET featuring vintage writing on the film by critic Tony Rayns; a testimonial about King Hu by Tsui Hark; an analysis of Hu’s style by Edmond Wong; the eight characteristics of “the inn” in King Hu’s films and archival images