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This 3-parter uses the same 3 leads in each of its parts. Through reincarnation, 3 people meet in 3 different periods of Chinese history. Director King Hu opens with a Ming Dynasty tale of renegade swordsmen battling secret police. Lee Hsing follows with a melodrama about a wealthy man in love with an opera singer in the early 20th century. Pai Ching-Jui closes with the story of a dancer and a shaman in the 1980s.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
February 19, 2023 at 03:21 AM
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"It's the circle of life,And it moves us all,Through despair and hope, Through faith and love."
Left breathless after watching the gripping Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters (1968-also reviewed) thanks to BrianNaas and Jessica Yeung detailing in their reviews about restored Taiwan films streaming for free for a limited time,I decided to check what other movies were on the site.
Aware of his work for a number of years, but sadly not having got round to watching any of it, I was excited to find an obscure anthology title co-directed by auteur film maker King Hu, leading to me spinning the wheel of life.
Note:Review contains some plot details.
View on the film:
Taking their individual spins on the wheel of life, directors King Hu, Hsing Lee & Ching-Jui Pai superbly link each of their reincarnation segments with an exploration to the evolution of the arts on the world's stage, via Hu's highly stylized, cinematic opening descending into Hsing's grand Opera, with the final note being played as Pai elegantly pans across a sparse, minimal dance stage.
The second anthology title he had worked on, (after Four Moods (1967)) directing auteur King Hu brings to life the opening segment with his distinctive eye for stylization, as the trio of reincarnated souls, (each superbly played with a vibrant expressiveness by Hsueh-Fen Peng, Huo-Yen Chiang and Chun Shih) flicker to life with exploding with colour, sharply edited, whip-pans and close-ups on the Action set-pieces, which Hu delicately pulls the camera away from,in order to create a balance with graceful, lingering wide-shots that touch on the spiritualism of Hu's work.
Matching the Melodramatic lives of the reincarnated, director Hsing Lee unveils a gloriously rich atmosphere, spun from ultra-stylized tracking shots and close-ups on the beaming colours of the Opera house which heightens the Melodramatic atmosphere to a breaking point of startling altered frame rates capturing the moment that the souls leave their current incarnation.
Set in the 80's, director Ching-Jui Pai cleverly links the spiritualism of Hu's tale and the Melodrama of Lee's episode, by wisely staying away from flashy 80's styling, to instead unite the spirits on a remote island, displayed in long, stilted wide-shots and close-ups on the earthy surroundings, which melts into beautiful dissolves and superimposition's that have the three souls come face to face with their reincarnated state, as they each take another spin of the wheel of life.