Dragon Inn (1966, King Hu)

Watched this when I realized I’d get to see the Goodbye, Dragon Inn restoration in theaters. More focused on simple conflict and action than the other two King Hu films I’ve seen, the plot keeps accumulating unstoppably brilliant fighters who kill scads of flunkies until all the brilliant fighters finally converge against each other – or more specifically, five legendary heroes team up against the sinister eunuch army seeking to kill a slain general’s entire family.

The two who will later meet in Goodbye’s dying theater are lead hero/drifter Shih Chun (also star of A Touch of Zen) and the white-haired eunuch boss’s chief soldier Miao Tien (already a Tsai regular by the time of Goodbye). Shih joins the orange and blue sibling team of Hsieh Han and Shangkuan Ling-fung (the perpetually pissed-off woman in front on the new Criterion box art), and eventually another supernaturally fast duo joins up. It takes all of them to dispatch the lead soldiers and then the eunuch boss himself (Bai Ying). The subtitles say he suffers from “asthma” but it appears to be psychedelic migraines. Reportedly a game-changing film, King Hu breaking from the Shaw Brothers studio to independently reinvent wuxia cinema, it still holds up as a beautiful and kickass picture.