Coming to Virtual Cinema from writer/director King Hu and Film Movement Classics comes the beautifully restored story of RAINING IN THE MOUNTAINS.
On a long walk up a mountain to a monastery is Esquire Wen (Sun Yueh), White Fox (Hsu Feng) and Gold Lock (Wu Ming-tsai). Asked to come to give the Abbot (Kim Chang-Gean) advice on who should be the successor, Wen has another thought in his mind.
Also invited for advice is General Wang (Tien Feng) and his sidekick Lt. Chang (Chen Hui-Lou) who have the same thoughts as Wen. What neither of these men expect is a third member to the advise party and that is of Wu Wai (Wu Chia-Hsiang) a Buddhist master who is brought in surrounded by his own group of nuns!
Before considering his replacement, the Abbot is told that a criminal by the name of Chiu Ming wants to become a monk. Bringing him in, both the Abbot and Master Wai listen to his tale which includes Lt. Chang. The Abbot accepts Ming and gives him duties to perform. While all of this is happening, White Fox and Gold Lock are casing the place looking for an ancient scroll that Wen wants before a new Abbot is named.
With everything going on, all the players do not realize that something special is about to happen. Bringing everyone at the monastery together, the Abbot chooses the most unlikely of candidates to replace him. Chiu Ming is given the wrap of the Abbot as the elderly Abbot steps down to begin another life.
Now the plotting and planning really begins when the idea comes to the unscrupulous guests to get rid of Ming and replace him with their own choice. That way they get what they want and control the monastery.
What they did not count on was the actions of others to do what is right!
Feng as White Fox is swift, smart and hears everything going on in the monastery. When she realizes what everyone is up to, well, let’s just say she has plans of her own. Yueh as Wen brings the criminals to get what he wants most of all – the sacred scrolls. He uses his ‘friendship’ with the Abbot and that makes him worse than a criminal – well done sir! Ming-tsai as Lock is a mixture of criminal and comedy which works for me.
Feng as Wang is in the same category as Wen when it comes to using people to get what he wants. The difference is that his cohort is much nastier in thought and deed. Wang counts on that to make everyone work in his favor, including putting someone he wants at the head of the Abbot table. Hui-Lou is the biggest snake in the grass but the shortest in stature so let that be a lesson to everyone. Evil comes in all heights!
Chang-Gean as the Abbot is treated as if he has no sense to him because of his age. What I love about his character is he is as cool as a cucumber, never giving anything away of what he knows and how he intends to handle it all. Bringing Chia-Hsiang as Master Wu into the mix is hilarious as these two elderly wise men watch the games going on around them but have only one serious purpose – a new Abbot.
Film Movement, founded in 2002, is an award-winning independent and foreign film company that has released more than 250 feature films and shorts. Theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries, and foreign arthouse titles catalog such directors as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner and Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. Bluray and DVD films bring such directors as Eric Rohmer, Bolle August, King Hu, Sergio Corbucci and Luchino Visconti and many more. To discover what Film Movement is all about and find out more about what they have to offer please visit www.filmmovementplus.com.
RAINING IN THE MOUNTAINS is a fun film of cat and mouse but at the same time it is a story of redemption and believing in second chances. Filmed in a real monastery lends to the authenticity of the story being told.
The film comes in at 120 minutes, but every moment gives us a chance to know the characters story and prepare for the outcome. Of course, there is martial arts and superb skills and with these characters it’s a bonus.
This film was actually released in 1979 and has been remastered to show the beauty of the era. Director Hu is responsible for the 1966 COME DRINK WITH ME, the 1967 DRAGON INN and A TOUCH OF ZEN.
In the end – the unexpected is not what they expected!