Tsui Hark

Chinese name: 徐克
Born: February 15, 1950
From: Saigon, Vietnam
Occupation: Director, producer, screenwriter, actor
Worked with Ziyi: 2 times

The Climbers (2019)

The Legend of Zu (2001)

Tsui Hark (born 15 February 1951), born Tsui Man-kong, is a Hong Kong New Wave film director, producer and screenwriter. He is viewed as a major figure in the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema.

Upon turning to feature filmmaking, Tsui was quickly typed as a member of the “New Wave” of young, iconoclastic directors. His debut film, The Butterfly Murders (1979), was an eccentric and technically challenging blend of wuxia, murder mystery and science fiction / fantasy elements. His second film, We’re Going to Eat You (1980), was an eccentric blend of cannibal horror, black comedy and martial arts.

Tsui’s third film, Dangerous Encounter of the First Kind (1980), put him beyond the pale. The thriller about delinquent youths on a bombing spree was nihilistic, grisly and pregnant with angry political subtext. Heavily censored by the British colonial government, it was released in 1981 in a drastically altered version titled Dangerous Encounter – 1st Kind. Unsurprisingly, it was not a financial success. However, it helped to make Tsui a darling of film critics who had coined the New Wave label and were hopeful for a more aesthetically daring cinema, more engaged with the realities of contemporary Hong Kong.

In 1983, Tsui directed the wuxia fantasy film Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983) for the studio Golden Harvest. Tsui imported Hollywood technicians to help create special effects whose number and complexity were unprecedented in Chinese-language cinema and remains preoccupied with pushing back the boundaries of the industry’s effects technology.

In fact, Tsui’s “movie brat” nostalgia is one of the main ingredients in his work. He often resurrects and revises classic films and genres: the murder mystery in The Butterfly Murders (1979); the Shanghai musical comedy in Shanghai Blues (1985). Peking Opera Blues (1986) plays with and pays tribute to the traditions of the Peking opera that his mother took him to see as a small boy and which had such a strong influence on Hong Kong action cinema.

The pattern is also seen in perhaps Tsui’s most successful work to date, the Once Upon a Time in China film series (1991–97). This series is the clearest expression in his oeuvre of Tsui’s Chinese nationalism and his passionate engagement with the upheavals of Chinese history, particularly in the face of Western power and influence.

Tsui returned to directing at home in 2000 after not having made a local film since 1996. Time and Tide (2000) and The Legend of Zu (2001) were action extravaganzas with lavish computer-generated imagery that gained cult admirers but no mass success.—Wiki


♦ Tsui Hark and Ziyi were both awarded during 1999 Cineasia Awards Ceremony. It’s the only time they were photographed together, Ziyi didn’t attend any promotional event for The Legend of Zu.