23 April 2009 | lukechong
A Chinese ghost story, Part 1
A scholar, tasked with the job of copying a sutra, meets an adviser, an old lady and his daughter in a residence in the mountains. After marrying the daughter, he meets with another, equally ravishing young lady, who discloses to him that his wife is an evil ghost. King Hu's "Legend of the Mountain" takes its cue the numerous ghost stories in Pu Songling's "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio". Shot back to back with "Raining in the Mountain", released the same year, this tale effectively "recycles" many of the actors used in the previous film, such as Xu Feng (the evil ghost), the Taoist priest, the lama, the raving servant and the well-meaning adviser.
The whole film is shot in Korea, full of beautiful pictorial shots. But the story itself is rather spooky - it is after all a supernatural ghost story alongside Buddhist myths. King Hu's interest in Buddhist supernatural mysticism was such that he made two more movies on these themes - his last film uses a similar plot. Tsui Hark would produced a similar "ghost story" movie in his "A Chinese ghost story", released in 1987.
The Code 3 DVD I watched was from Hong Kong, and the running time was just a little over 110 minutes. However, it is not the complete version. Googling the net, there appears to be a Japanese TV version which is 191 minutes long, while the Hong Kong Film Academy lists a cut which is 184 minutes.
So, as this DVD is drastically cut, I cannot make a justified assessment of the movie. But the 110-minute cut still makes a strong impression, and anyone interested in King Hu's films would be urged to catch this movie in full.