DIRECTOR: KING HU
A watershed in the history of Taiwanese popular cinema, the film-within-a-film in Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn, and the first movie that Hu, who is to the wuxia what John Ford is to the Western, made after fleeing his Shaw Bros. serfdom in Hong Kong to freedom in Taiwan. The emancipatory joy is palpable. The movie’s plot concerns the three marked-for-death children of a framed-up imperial minister as they’re pursued by a unit of ruthless assassins, the Black Arrow Troop, to the Dragon Gate Inn, a remote redoubt where both sides dig in and feel one another out in preparation for an inevitable showdown—but this conveys nothing of the elation of the filmmaking. Unlike many contemporary wuxia directors, including the good ones, Hu painstakingly pre-prepared and composed his films. Here, adapting the music of the traditional Beijing Opera to the rhythms of the fight film, he creates something that feels both ancient and new.