The 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Friday April 28- “The Grand Passion” and “The Legend of the Sacred Stone”

The final weekend of The Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition begins with two special and hard to find wuxia pictures.

It took King Hu years to make his 1971 masterpiece “A Touch of Zen”. In that down time, his production manager Yang Shih-Ching gathered the cast and most of the crew to make the wuxia treasure that is 1970’s “The Grand Passion”.

Lu Xiao-Ling (a dazzling Polly Shan-kuan) and her brother Lu Liu (Pai Ying) are skilled rebel warriors in the Southern Song Dynasty. The siblings are sent on a mission to safeguard a charter that will bring together two allied armies to defeat the occupying Jin army and its sadistic General Zheng Yun.

A historical intrigue of the highest order, “The Grand Passion” holds everything that makes wuxia Martial Arts films work so well. There is a sense of realism in the production design that gives a good flavor for the era and Hui-Ying Hua’s cinematography is a gorgeous visual feast.

The aura created by director Yang Shih-Ching and his crew mixes well with the expertly crafted fight sequences. These moments are realistic, but sprinkled with fun dashes of over-the-top, as one character can throw coins with deadly results.

“The Grand Passion” is a film of substance. Shih-Ching Yang created a screenplay with good characters and a plot full of a few surprises. Mix these ingredients with the expert fight scenes and fans of the wuxia- styled Martial Arts film will have a raucous good time.

The second film showing to close out Friday night is 2000’s “Legend of the Sacred Stone”, a true rarity.

Director Chris Huang has designed a gorgeous wuxia Kung Fu spectacle. What makes this one unique? The cast is performed entirely by puppets.

A group of Martial Arts masters band together to fight the evil Mo Kuei, a villain who wields the power of demons and wants to take over the world.

Huang is a fourth-generation puppeteer and his skills with the art form show. “Legend of the Sacred Stone” has fantastic wuxia action sequences. As bodies defy gravity and swords clash, each moment is crafted with care and supreme style that gives the fight moments an extraordinary fluidity.

Puppets or not, the battle scenes held within this film are pure excitement.

The puppet characters are beautifully designed. Flowing robes, hats that take the characteristics of animals and other creatures, and elaborately designed weaponry give a unique look to the figures.

“Legend of the Sacred Stone” was a feature film spinoff from the popular mid-80’s Taiwan wuxia television show “Pili”. Huang crafted his film in 2000 and is is rarely shown in the United States in its full form, if at all.

The chance to see this beautiful and unique motion picture in its original version could be (for some) a once in a lifetime opportunity.


The Grand Passion & Legend of the Sacred Stone

Directed by Shih-Ching Yang & Chris Huang