Simian Substitute Site For January 2016: Year Of The Monkey Sweets
Simian Substitute Site For February 2016: Chinese Zodiac - Year Of The Monkey


As mentioned in the review of A Touch Of Zen, here's a screengrab from my Video CD of Dragon Inn. Note the sensitivity with which it fits a 2.35:1 image into a 4:3 frame.Last week, the website Dulwich OnView referred to that place I sometimes contribute to as "the acclaimed film blog Mostly Film." I think that's a rather lovely thing to be honoured with, even though The Belated Birthday Girl keeps on trying to ruin it by asking "acclaimed by whom, exactly?"

Still, I feel a little bad about trying to grab some of that acclaim for myself. After all, there are only three articles I ever write for it. The most obvious one is I Went To See Some Movies Abroad And Couldn't Quite Understand What They Were Saying, which I've managed to get published in 21 minor variations so far. Close behind that comes I Went To A Film Festival And Saw So Many Films That I'm Going Way Over My Allotted Word Count (and there'll be another one of those coming next week).

But there's a third type you may have missed, which is this: I Saw An Old Film And A New Film That Were Somehow Related To Each Other, And The Old One Was Better. I wrote it on the very first day of Mostly Film's existence, comparing Repo Man with Repo Chick. Subsequently I've done the same with the two versions of Maniac, and the various exploitation documentaries of Mark Hartley. And now, in a weekend where two Taiwanese swordplay epics have been released in the UK, I've written a pair of articles comparing them - Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 2015 cinema outing The Assassin, and King Hu's 1971 Blu-ray debutante A Touch Of Zen.

Yes, the old one was better. But read both articles anyway, and enjoy the Red Button Bonus Content here.

The backup material for these articles is a video playlist covering all the films by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and King Hu that are namechecked in the two reviews, most of which I've written about online at one time or another. Details below the embed.

  1. The opening shot/scene of Flowers Of Shanghai, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien in 1998. Reviewed here.
  2. A clip from Millennium Mambo, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien in 2000. Reviewed here.
  3. The Japanese trailer for Cafe Lumiere, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien in 2003. Reviewed here.
  4. The opening scene from The Assassin, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien in 2015 and currently under review here.
  5. Not mentioned in the review, but included here because Shaw Brothers trailers are works of art in their own right: the one for Come Drink With Me, directed by King Hu in 1966. Never reviewed by me online, surprisingly, despite my owning a very nice DVD of the film.
  6. The trailer for Eureka's restored Blu-ray of Dragon Inn, directed by King Hu in 1967. Reviewed both here and here.
  7. A clip from A Touch Of Zen, directed by King Hu in 1971 and currently under review here. In a neatly serendipitous touch, it looks like this clip was uploaded to YouTube by film historian David Cairns, who contributes a delightfully insightful video essay about the film to the bonus disc on Eureka's Blu-ray release. Also: ooh, look, it's Sammo Hung.
  8. To make up the numbers, here's a bit more about A Touch Of Zen, specifically a short demonstration of what the restoration job entailed.


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