Tsui Hark was supposedly inspired by the then-groundbreaking effects of the first Star Wars trilogy when he made Zu, a fantasy action film starring Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Brigitte Lin, and Adam Cheung. In a somewhat confu... more »sed story line, a young soldier (played by Biao) stumbles onto a magic temple after escaping an all-out civil war battle between various armies. There he meets a magic swordsman (Cheung) and his disciples, who enlist him to help fight against the evil Blood Monster. They also run across a group of swordswomen and an ice goddess (played by Lin) who appear primarily to sprinkle in some romance and humor. The 1983 special effects look dated, but they were once revolutionary, this film forming the very first special-effects house in Hong Kong. And the playful spirit behind the effects hasn't faded. Demons (which look suspiciously like the Sand People in Star Wars) fly about in an impressive aerial ballet, and in another scene, an evil demon is bounced between pillars like a pinball. One of Tsui's earliest films, Zu is a good introduction to the fast and furious style of one of Hong Kong's most visionary directors. --Shannon Gee« less
Tsui Hark's landmark HK film of special effects and fantasy
George Edward Purdy (firstname.lastname@example.org | USA | 04/28/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tsui Hark, who went to film school at the University of Texas, is one of the most influencial filmmakers of Hong Kong. In this film, he made an effort to attract Hollywood special effects artists to come to Hong Kong and not only create a visually impressive film, but also to teach his team how the effects are done. This film was the result of that effort, and it shows. By the way, the previous mention of computer effects is incorrect. Not only does this film pre-date extensive use of computer-generated effects, but the suggestion that Lightwave is made by SGI instead of Newtek is also incorrect. Zu is a fantasy film, and the influence it (and other Tsui Hark films, like A Chinese Ghost Story) has had on other filmmakers is highly evident."
Bradford Daniels | Redmond, WA | 11/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Does it have a disjointed plot? Yep. Poor continuity? You bet. Incomprehensible ending? Sure. Cheesy effects? Yes again, by modern standards, anyway. Is it a massively cool film? Hell, yes!Do not watch this movie expecting deeply moving themes, great acting, high art, or really just about anything you'd normally watch a movie for. If you do, you'll be disappointed. This is not a normal movie. Watching Zu is really more of a life Experience. Think of yourself as Winne-the-Pooh Watching Surreal Fantasy Images.This film achieves a level of fantastic strangeness rarely equaled in live-action cinema. Where else will you see a man imprisoning an evil demon using his eyebrows, or a man chained to rocks being sucked into the mouth of hell? No, none of it makes much sense, but just go with it, and you won't regret it."
Sounds good, looks good, pity about the convoluted plot.
Devlin Tay | Adelaide, Australia | 09/05/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Tsui Hark's 1983 special effects extravaganza, "Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain", was one of my all time favorite Chinese swords and sorcery movies. Using Hollywood-style special effects not seen before in Chinese cinema, "Zu: Warriors" broke new ground and created a new generation of Tsui Hark fans. Tsui would go on to create other Chinese movie classics such as the "A Chinese Ghost Story", "Swordsman" and "Once Upon A Time In China" series. So it was with great excitement that I greeted the news in 2000 that Tsui was in the process of remaking his 1983 classic for release in 2001. However, I must admit that I was absolutely disappointed when I finally got to watch "Legend of Zu" on the big screen in the summer of 2001. The plot of "Legend" is totally convoluted - it seemed Tsui was more interested in stretching the limits of what he can do with computer generated special effects than in telling a good yarn. And don't get me wrong - the special effects are mind-boggling for a Chinese movie and look fantastic on the big screen. The sheer imaginative scale of the visuals created by Tsui's special effects team is amazing - the magical Zu mountain range is innovatively presented as a series of upside-down islands floating on top of mountain peaks - words cannot quite describe the scene, you have to see it on the big screen to feel the magic Tsui has created. As most Chinese folk will tell you, the mythology of the Chinese swords and sorcery genre is full of gods, demons, superhuman powers and fantastic weapons, and "Legend" delivers all these in spades - so much so non-Chinese may be overwhelmed by seemingly nonsensical superhuman feats that make Superman's powers look like child's play. The sound effects complement the visual effects well, making "Legend" one of the best sounding Chinese movies I've seen in a long while. The Hong Kong version of the DVD that I recently bought includes a DTS soundtrack, which sounds absolutely perfect on my surround sound home theatre system. But stunning visuals and great sound do not a good movie make. While the lead actors (Ekin Cheng, Cecilia Cheung, Louis Koo and Zhang Ziyi - all great looking and talented young actors) make valiant efforts to flesh out their characters, the script's frenetic pace simply lets them down. It took me at least two viewings to grasp all of the important plot points and to understand what the story was all about. Too many special effects and not enough story telling made the whole movie look like a computer game. Three stars from me and would someone restrain Tsui the next time he shows signs of going over the top?"
The birth of the fantasy genre
Phil Flores | Los Angeles, CA USA | 07/15/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When watching this film, consider the fact that it was made in the early 80's, so adjust your views accordingly.Having said that, Zu is a busy movie with a lot of subplots, and twists. It is enough to almost confuse the viewer. Within 3 minutes, the whole movie changes scenery while the characters change attitude. This is one of the few films where I enjoyed Sammo Hung. His character seemed to fit the ambience of the whole film. Yuen Biao was great, as usual, and a younger Brigette Lin also adds to the cast. In addition, the cameo by Tsui Hark was a welcome surprise.I would rent this film before you decide to purchase it. It's an older film, so if you're used to some of the later stuff, you may be disappointed."
Robert A. Mccracken | Jacksonville, FL United States | 04/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was great. I loved the original Zu warriors, but i especially loved the effects in this one. I say this mainly because i love movies like storm riders, but because of the lack of them i commend tsui hark on making another movie of this genre. Wish i could find more like this."