Memories of a Martial-Arts Master

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — Jul 16, 2018


In his international breakthrough, 1967’s Dragon Inn, director King Hu gathered an ensemble of dazzling, wonderfully idiosyncratic performers for a tale of Ming-dynasty intrigue. One of the standouts among the cast was appearing on-screen for the very first time. Playing the only female knight-errant in the film, Shangkuan Ling-fung alternates between virtuosic combat choreography and moments of comedic precision, defying gravity as she engages her enemies with a coolly fatal professionalism. Our new edition of Dragon Inn features an interview with the Taiwanese actor, who turned her black-belt-level fighting prowess into wuxia stardom. In the above outtake from the supplement, she describes her time with another of the best-known martial artists of the day, Bruce Lee, and the kindness, generosity, and sense of humor that lay behind those fearsome fists.