BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#26 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:32 pm

The TFI restored Four Moods in 2013; here's a trailer. Hu's segment was released in a DVD boxset along with the Dragon Inn, Touch of Zen, and Legend of the Mountain restorations, but unfortunately it's only available directly from the TFI and they don't ship internationally. Personally I've been holding off in the expectation that a foreign distributor will include it as a bonus feature on a Blu-ray, but every new Hu BD that comes down the pipe keeps disappointing me in that regard.

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feihong
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#27 Post by feihong » Wed Dec 25, 2019 4:19 am

I didn't know they'd restored the film, but I had hoped the same, especially as an extra on Dragon Gate Inn. But maybe they'll release the full film in the future? I think it'd be worth it. What I saw of the film made it look exceptional, and Tony Rayns raves about it on the commentary track for The Fate of Lee Khan, calling it the best of Hu's inn films.

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whaleallright
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#28 Post by whaleallright » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:45 am

It's strange that the booklet for Lee Khan republishes a piece by Stephen Teo that discusses both that film and its companion, The Valiant Ones—because Teo spends more time on the latter, which he clearly regards as the superior, more personal film. Does anyone know if The Valiant Ones has been restored?

On a general note, it's incredible that so many of this guy's major films are so widely available in good editions (the color timing issues notwithstanding) after decades where they were almost impossible to see unless you were willing to search high and wide and then put up with dupey, splicey atrocities.

Has anyone here seen any of Hu's films of the 1980s? Those who would know, like Rayns and Teo, mostly dismiss them wholesale or pass them over in polite silence, so I can't imagine there's much to discover. But I admit I get curious when there's a film by a major director that's almost literally completely unknown (à la Dreyer's Two People), and Hu has at least two.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#29 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:57 pm

whaleallright wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:45 am
Does anyone know if The Valiant Ones has been restored?
See feihong's post on the previous page

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: BD 214 The Fate of Lee Khan

#30 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:12 pm

feihong wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:58 pm
Also visible is how sweaty everyone is. It must have been exceptionally hot on the set. Is that Golden Harvest studios? People seldom seem to be dripping quite so much in the Shaw pictures.
Actually, it probably is the studio. Golden Harvest was known to not use air conditioning to save costs. Eastern Promises finale has an equally sweaty Golden Harvest set.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#31 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:02 pm

The interview with Bai Ying in the Hong Kong Film Archive's When the Wind Was Blowing Wild: Hong Kong Cinema of the 1970s (which they have made freely available online) touches on the shooting of both The Fate of Lee Khan and The Valiant Ones (among many other seminal films). The facade of the tavern in Lee Khan was built on the same outlying island where the climax of The Valiant Ones was shot simultaneously, while "the main set was inside the studio, where we filmed for a month." He doesn't specify what "the studio" was, but having also stated that Raymond Chow insisted on 50% ownership of The Fate of Lee Khan—and that Golden Harvest kept a close watch on the production to ensure Hu wouldn't go over schedule as he typically did—it's safe to assume he's referring to their studio.

Regarding the restoration status of The Valiant Ones, it's frankly confusing. In 2003 the HKFA screened a "digitally restored new print from the negatives donated by the director a month before his death in 1997"; I'm not quite sure what "digitally restored" means here, but in 2009 the Archive screened what it described as "an early restoration project by the HKFA, parts of which were repaired digitally." This is probably the same "digitally restored" print from 2003, and the wording here reads as though the HKFA applied some digital cleanup to more damaged portions of the source before outputting them back to 35mm. I have no idea how or if this restoration is related to the aforementioned new wet-gate print screened in 2012, or the DCP shown at last year's Hong Kong International Film Festival. Given the age of the HKFA's digital restoration, I strongly suspect it isn't up to contemporary standards.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#32 Post by Finch » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:06 pm


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feihong
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#33 Post by feihong » Sat Feb 22, 2020 12:01 am

Looks pretty gorgeous. And not too yellow, either. Glad my favorite is getting good treatment.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#34 Post by longstone » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:40 am

My copy of Raining arrived yesterday and I had a free evening so was able to watch it , I've never seen this before but really enjoyed it, the scenery,setting and costumes are fantastic. I'm not really qualified to comment on the transfer quality but it looked great to me . It seems it's restored from multiple sources? and this seems to show from some slight jumps and also some sections appearing slightly more faded/bleached than others ( although perhaps this was just the effect of bright sunlight ) but my guess is that's the best that was available, anyhow it was very enjoyable.

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tenia
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#35 Post by tenia » Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:06 am

feihong wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 12:01 am
Looks pretty gorgeous. And not too yellow, either. Glad my favorite is getting good treatment.
Not sure I exactly like this timing though (sorry to seem like a never-pleased person). Even when taking into account the usual Beaver-fidelity caveat, it seems at times Ritrovata's yellow-ishy in some caps, but pretty much every other cap look like people have tried too much to avoid this and have gone in the opposite direction instead. Faces seem too pinkish in places, and god some of these whites look harsh.
From what I gathered, it seems it has been directly restored by the Taiwan Film Institute, which is now fully equipped for film restoration, but they have been integrating past experiences from their partners like Ritrovata to advance its skills.

Hopefully, I'll check that soon in motion to confirm this impression.

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feihong
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#36 Post by feihong » Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:14 pm

I mean, this isn't scientific or authoritative, but the color looks pretty close to what's on the Film Sans Frontieres DVD, which is the only source I've seen for the film. The sunlight sometimes looks yellow on that disc, sometimes more pale. The actors, who spend most of the movie running around on a steeplechase, often look flushed. Hsu Feng looks a little red–faced and puffy for the whole movie. But I haven't seen this in a theater, so I don't know for sure. On the FSF disc the scenes shot with a lot of overhead shadow tend to look less saturate, and the stuff in bright sunlight looks more yellow–ish. Again, only a guess, but it looks to me more like the way the film was shot than the Ritrovata–style global yellow adjustment.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#37 Post by tenia » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:49 am

Oh it's only a guess for me too. But these caps look quite pink.

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feihong
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#38 Post by feihong » Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:35 am

I was reading Roger Garcia's "King Hu in His Own Words" this week, and in the book Hu mentions that filming on Raining in the Mountain was done in very cold to freezing temperatures, which could possibly explain the flush in people's faces in many scenes (Garcia is the editor of the book, which is a collection of essays, speeches, scripts, drawings and interviews with King Hu). In the production stills in the book all of the behind-the-camera personnel are wearing big coats. Hsu Feng and Wu Mingcai are wearing gloves and scarves as they rehearse some scenes. I'm not really trying to defend the MOC transfer or the captures on DVDBeaver. I just thought this was kind of a cool bit of Hu's testimony that kind of explains why people look so unnaturally reddish in many scenes in the movie.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#39 Post by longstone » Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:23 am

The informative extras ( at least to me, as someone who hadn't seen any King Hu before these MOC releases ) explain that Raining in the Mountain and Legend of the Mountain were filmed back to back at the same location maybe with actors swapping costumes and filming scenes for both films on the same day. There is quite a lot of running around for some characters and if it was as cold as that essay suggests then I'm not surprised they looked flushed.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#40 Post by feihong » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:11 am

Raining in the Mountain just arrived and I'm watching it now, and tenia, you're quite right about problems with the restoration. DVDbeaver is underselling the problems by a bit, but I can understand why they're doing it. They talk about how beautiful the shots are in the film in almost the same breath, and it would be a shame if anyone interested in the movie passed it up for the restoration issues––we aren't likely to see it in any better shape for a long time, after all.

But still, there are a lot of problems. A lot of shots––50% or so, by rough estimate––are unencumbered by problems, sharp, full of depth and great-looking grain, and really beautiful. The rest of the film goes all over the place. Some shots are soft. Some look waxy. Some have a kind of stuttering motion briefly, especially at the ends of shots, near the cut (this is very infrequent, but I noticed it occasionally). Once in a while you'll see a shot with some of the selective blurring around the edges which you see in some of the Shaw Bros restorations. Then there are frequent images with a lot of mist visible, or shots delivered in soft–focus, where it's hard to tell whether the image looks the way it's supposed to or not. In some shots the grain is larger and coarser, and in other shots it's quite fine.

The biggest issues are with color–correction. The restoration is clearly taken from different sources, and some of those sources occasionally look a bit like old prints that have gone a little red all over. In other shots, the temperature of pure white is a kind of creamy yellow (this never looks like the Ritrovata restorations, though--the yellow is much paler). Some shots have a very limited range of color––the shot cuts to another, and then back to the same angle, but in this second shot there will be a much more sophisticated range of color being expressed. The biggest issues like this are near the beginning, but they continue fairly frequently throughout the film. And occasionally the color–correction will change abruptly in the middle of a shot. Some images have a kind of unintentional "grindhouse" look to them as a result. Whenever the full range of color snaps back into the picture, it's very clear that's what has happened.

In spite of all of this, the movie ends up mostly looking right. Like most King Hu movies, the film cuts quite fast from shot to shot, and no issue stays on screen for very long. Most of the time the larger impression is one of crisp grain and great color. I doubt another company is going to get this done better than Eureka. And the film is worth seeing in spite of the restoration flaws––to me it's far, far better than Legend of the Mountain; I think it's probably Hu's best film.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#41 Post by tenia » Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:58 am

Note that I have no idea who did the restoration and the grading. I said this purely on a hunch, some kind of educated guess, but I might be wrong and it has nothing to do with this.
However, my experience is that Ritrovata's usual yellow grading comes with other tell-tales (that can be found in the caps), but when corrected (and we now have a few examples of these), it comes either with the same tell-tales but partly adressed (the most visibly remaining one usually is pastel skin tones) or with diametally opposed issues, ie very pink and saturated skin tons and overly bright whites.

This being written, again, this is a pure guess, based on a few caps on top of this, since I have yet to buy this one.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#42 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:22 am

The restoration was done in-house at the TFI. Their notes state that four sources were used: a 120-minute negative held by the TFI, along with negatives for the special effects shots; a 91-minute negative from the Hong Kong Film Archive; and an 87-minute negative from the Korean Film Archive. The HKFA negative was in the best shape and was used for 86 minutes of the restoration, while about twenty minutes came from the TFI's 120-minute negative, ten minutes from the Korean negative, and four minutes from the special effects negatives. The Hong Kong and Korean sources had "discoloration" issues (presumably fading) and so required more extensive work in this area. The restoration comparison the TFI posted on Youtube also notes light leakages during post-production that were addressed in the restoration, which might account for the blurred edges.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#43 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:45 am

I liked but wasn't crazy about The Fate of Lee Khan, which was peculiar and disappointing considering it shares a lot of qualities with my pet favorite Dragon Inn, so I was heartened to fall in love with Raining in the Mountain for more than just typical Hu fanfare. This opening act was more reliant on silent film technique than usual, a playground game of spies during which we begin to sense that the surfaces we are glancing at are just mirages for what Hu is really interested in tackling.

The entire picture is an interesting mix of Buddhist teachings in self-effacement along with bribes, social climbing, and deception in pursuit of selfish aims; however this presents a hypocritical blend without undoing itself, professing at first that perhaps to be human is to embrace these flaws rather than repress them. In many ways that’s what Buddhism is about: impermanence and acceptance without blindly grasping onto them. It’s oddly encouraging that the monk who conspires does not hide and is consistently as honest as he can be. However the purity of acting in accordance with enlightenment is stressed and clashing everywhere with innate flawed humanity. From an atmospheric angle, there is tranquility permeating all spaces even those that provoke the traditions of the Buddhist conservatives, like the women bathing in the waters in front of the men, which is staged so beautifully that it is practically meditation on screen and completely de-sexualized.

The question for me became: is this peace persisting all around us as a spiritual presence regardless of the manipulative conspiring, or if because of it we can see a platform of kinship between all things, positive and negative, serenity and control, all coexisting. It’s a rhetorical question because of the transient flow that doesn’t subscribe to a linear dial. I enjoyed the context of this spiritual practice as a worldview by which to examine behavior and motive that might seem to be ill-suited for it but that if we assume that all is suited, why not this too; or maybe even especially this kind of ‘immorality’ should be looked under a different nonjudgmental miscroscope that sees the world in grey. There are clear bad guys here but I suppose the balanced who retain a moral code that binds their actions, however that might flex according to character defects, are good and equal status to the monks who look away from the bathing girls and don’t steal scrolls. The water bucket exercise heightens this point as separate narrow scopes that together form an eclectic philosophy of constant learning rather than just one perspective providing a tainted answer for personal gain. True contentment comes to those who let go and embrace humility so the reveal of the new Abbot is who is innocent and humble, while the other protagonists are flawed but don’t become clouded with total investment in their thievery, never to compromise the sacred morals while still engaging in some amount of cognitive dissonance; and the bad, well, they will feed themselves at all costs and should be a warning sign for the consequences of narcissistic continuity. This film appears to flesh out all three types well and for a moment I felt that it was slyly encouraging us to see that most of us are in that middle group, which was both respectful and quite relieving in absorbing shame.

But then the ending happened and this entire reading was cross-examined with another that gave the film a fresh coat of paint. Part of why this worked so well for me was that it all felt like a deceptive wuxia film that actually became a parable with a brutal punchline in that all our protagonists except one are not spiritually fit, and the way everything ends sidesteps away from the narrative to say just that. Not as a cheap shot, but as a serious question that sizes liberal humanism up against traditionalist spiritual ethics. Perhaps the answer is in contemplating the value in each. Should we accept ourselves but still set the goal of modesty high for a daily engagement to better ourselves? Doesn’t complacency and solipsism come from acceptance without the continual push? Where is the line between these two points, and if it’s intangible how do we seek it?

Hu films don't often make me think, they serve as ethereal and mindful exercises in narrative blended with transcendent vibes, but I understand that there are culturally religious subtexts to these themes. This is the first time I've felt that Hu was actually challenging his audience into a state of self-reflection, but now I'm tempted to review his filmography for more clues. He certainly took his same strengths in style and thematic interest and re-applied them into a space where the gears clicked to implode the narrative for the sake of the more mystical ideas, all while still retaining the beauty (this may be his loveliest shot film, autumn leaves and all) and action. Hu isn't trading up his trademarks for something different but infusing both into the same pot. Don't sleep on this one.

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tenia
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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#44 Post by tenia » Tue Apr 28, 2020 12:52 pm

Looks like the 2000 O-Card copies are sold out, at least on Eureka's webstore.

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#45 Post by cowboydan » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:34 pm

tenia wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 12:52 pm
Looks like the 2000 O-Card copies are sold out, at least on Eureka's webstore.
I just received my copy from the Fishpond webstore and it came with the O-card!

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Re: BD 214-215 The Fate of Lee Khan & Raining in the Mountain

#46 Post by TMDaines » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:19 am

Availability of slipcases for Eureka products are bizarre. Either some of their titles sell way quicker than you'd expect or they are all sitting in warehouses somewhere overstocked.

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