A Touch of Zen (1971) Script

Based on the story The Magnanimous Girl by PU Songling from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (Liaozha iZhiyi), 1679 A TOUCH OF ZEN (XIA NU)

Executive Producer XIA-WU Liangfang Planning ZHANG Jiuying Producer YANG Shiqing

Starring HSU Feng, SHIH Jun BAI Ying, TIAN Peng CAO Jian, MIAO Tian, ZHANG Bingyu, XUE Han

Guest star: Roy CHIAO as Abbot Huiyuan Director of Photography HUA Huiying

Assistant Director MIAO Tian Production Design: ZHENG Zhiliang Art Director: CHEN Shanglin Music by WU Dajiang

Martial Arts Choreography HAN Yingjie, PAN Yaokun Written and Directed by King HU

"Fort Jinglu"

"General Cheng Yuan's Residence"

"Letter writing and scroll painting"

"Gu Shengzhai"

Welcome, sir Is this your work?

Just humble efforts It's excellent May I do a portrait for you?

All right Please take a seat

May I know your name?

Ouyang Nian Mr. Ouyang

You must have had a tiring journey How do you know?

I know almost everyone in this remote town

I've just arrived You've lived here all your life?

Yes Ah... your hat?

And turn your head to the side

What's your name?

Gu Shengzhai.

Good morning!


You're early today Can I offer you some tea?

Not now, you're busy. I'll come by later See you

Mr. Gu...

Who is he? They sell medicinal herbs What's his name? Lu. Why do you ask?

Is he local?

No, they came about a month ago He's quite skilled He has a stall near the temple Why do you ask?

No reason

Mr. Ouyang...

I'll be back tomorrow

Mind the step!


Mr. Shi You're back early, Mr. Gu Won't you stay a while? Another time See you then Bye Goodbye Mother, has someone moved in?

Who'd dare to live there?

Mr. Shi just told your fortune You know what he said?

I've no idea

Come and eat

He said this is your lucky year What makes him think that?

I told you, he worked it out

You should take the civil service exam I'm not interested Why not?

Why should a sighted man take a blind man's advice?

Everyone except you wants to be successful You're hopeless!

Mother, we may not be rich...

...but we don't starve When I've saved a little more, I can open a school Don't be silly!

You want to be a teacher?

You know the saying...

"Nothing compares to officialdom"

Actually, being a scholar is better!

Why study if you don't want to be an official?

We study to acquire knowledge But you don't seem to know anything

You're over thirty now...

...but still not married!

Why not?

I'm waiting for the right person What you mean is, you're too poor!

The Gu family line is going to die out!

"In troubled times, I choose safety..."

"...over jostling for rank and fame"

Don't quote at me!

Save your quotes for the exam!

Oh, you're hopeless!


What's going on?


I was looking...

...to see if anyone was there Have you gone mad?

No-one lives here Come home!

Come on!


You shouldn't be out at this hour See how dirty your clothes are!

Mr. Gu...

May I ask something?

Of course I hear that Fort Jinglu is near here It is Have you been there?

I live next to it

They say it's haunted Only those who believe in ghosts!

Mr. Ouyang...

I'll mount the finished portrait Please tell me tomorrow if you like it Thank you

It's better to be wary of ghosts Confucius says, don't speak of such things

I'm afraid I can't agree Goodbye

"it's better to be wary of ghosts..."

"Taoist exorcism spells"


What's all this?


You're behaving like a madman Let me introduce you This is Miss Yang This is my son


Miss Yang...

Just ask if there's anything you need

Who is she?

Our new neighbour You terrified her last night She scared me too She's very brave to live there alone Same as us, she pays no rent


Mother, why did you visit her?

I gave them some needles and thread They have nothing there


Who else is living there?

Her bed-ridden mother, who must be eighty

What's that stick for?

Oh, nothing What do they do for a living?

Miss Yang sells funeral offerings She can't be earning much

You're well over thirty...

Not again!

Don't interrupt me!

Miss Yang is single and in her twenties Why shouldn't you marry her?

Don't "huh" me They need someone to depend on And you're not going anywhere You'd make a good couple

But Mother...


Will she agree?

Why not? Aren't we good enough for them?

It's all up to you Isn't this just wishful?

Don't be silly, they have nothing!

She has nothing to lose by marrying She'll agree I'll talk to her mother tomorrow

Come back early today


You scared me!

Why aren't you at work?

What did she say?


Where are you going?

To the shop It's going to rain, don't go today

What did her mother say?

She wants her to get married But Miss Yang says no Why?

She wouldn't say She must think we're too poor If only you had an official rank Not that again!

Take the exam this year!

I've said many times...


If you had an official post, she would have agreed Mother...

Go on painting all day and you can forget about marrying Mother!

Excuse me...

No one answered, so I took the liberty of coming in Sorry, we were out This is Mr. Ouyang. My mother Please have a seat Pleased to meet you Do sit down The place is in a mess Please excuse us It's a nice room Very small It's quiet here Have a seat Why weren't you in your shop today?

I had some family business here

I called at your shop this morning Sorry...

Your portrait is ready Give me your frank opinion

It's very good You're too kind

A man of your talents is wasted in this small town I'm an ordinary man, not so ambitious Why not take the county exam this year?

You think he stands a chance?


With his talent I'm sure he does You flatter me Didn't I tell you?

You must try this year

If you enter, I may be able to help There's no need I said you needed connections! That's wonderful!

I'll be happy to help I'm much obliged, but I won't enter this year Please ignore him, we're relying on you Mother!

Just be quiet!

Do think it over When you've made up your mind, tell me A token of my respect...

It's not my best work Please take it as a gift Impossible!

You're giving me too much!

My set price is 5 taels That's enough, Shengzhai! Mr. Ouyang is a friend Mr. Ouyang!

Good-bye, Mrs. Gu I'll visit again Mother, you...

Shall I add your name?

Please do I'll pick it up from the shop It's raining, take care Please visit anytime Goodbye

What a nice man You should get to know him better


Who is it?

Who's there?

General Shi Who?


The fortune-teller!

Mr. Shi!

Are you badly hurt?

It's all right I slipped and fell You're bleeding Where's my cane?

Never mind that, come into the dry Where's my cane?

My Cane!

Where's my cane?

You have a bad gash My Cane!

I'll get some medicine

My Cane!

I'll look for it

See, Miss Yang

Fetch some firewood

Ouyang Nian found out who you are? No But who is that fellow?

Tell Lu Ting'an tomorrow All right

"Lu Ting'an, Herbalist"

You've caught a cold, Mrs. Gu It isn't serious Yes, I was out helping the fortune-teller yesterday I got drenched in the heavy rain Last night I had chills, so I knew I was ill Dr. Lu will give you medicine You'll soon recover, Mother What do you know?

Boil this twice and drink the liquid, and keep warm You'll be well in no time, don't worry Let's go

The fee...

We can talk about it later No, we'd better... We'll pay next time Dr. Lu is a friend, he doesn't mind You can rest in my shop No, let's go home Goodbye

Miss Yang!

Don't you recognize me?


I just want to ask you...

Do you know a blind fortune-teller here?

Take a little rest Wait till we get home

Thank you, Miss Yang What happened to your face?

Do you feel better?

I'm getting too old Look at all this medicine!

Miss Yang...

Please take a rest if you're tired Did you know the fortune-teller Mr. Shi before?


Sorry to put you to all this trouble You've been up all night You must be exhausted

If only I had a daughter-in-law like you

But we're too poor We're much poorer than you

I can't blame you for turning down my son Get some sleep

Shengzhai has no ambition He won't even sit for the county exam He must have his reasons He's as stubborn as my late husband He's studied his whole life...

...but didn't want official rank That's why we're living like this You should be pleased to have such a dutiful son But what good has it done us?

He can't even get a wife With his talents, he'll surely find a good match I've given up hoping

He's over thirty now, and my health is failing When I die, the Gu family line will die with me

How much do I owe you, Dr. Lu?

Later will do I insist Well, one diao and a half is enough

How is your mother?

Much better, thank you

There are agents from the Eastern Group nosing around I hear their second-in-command, Men Da, is coming Goodbye

Dr. Lu...

Do you know a man named Ouyang Nian?

Ouyang Nian?

No, I don't Never mind, then Goodbye Grandpa, how did he...

"Don't trust Gu Shengzhai"

Mr. Gu...

Come to my home tonight

A jug of wine amid the flowers Having no company, I drink alone I raise the cup and invite the moon With my shadow, we form a company of three But alas, the moon doesn't drink And my shadow merely follows my body Let the three of us commune, however briefly Drink and rejoice in springtime The moon reels with my song My shadow moves with my dance While awoke let us seize the moment For we shall part after drinking our fill Let us our friendship cherish Till the next time, should we ever meet again

Mr. Gu...

Mr. Gu...

You're a lucky man to have such a tryst Come with me, Miss Yang Mr. Ouyang!

Stay back!

Miss Yang!

You come from an honourable family!

You have done a shameful thing!

Let's go Keep away!

Mr. Gu, what happened to you?

I slipped and fell

Mr. Gu


His Highness the Magistrate wants to see you

What for?

You'll know when you get there

Gentlemen... Hurry!

Mr. Gu Sir Please make ten copies of this You'll be paid Ink!

Take a seat

"Yang Huizhen is a criminal at large"

"An imperial reward is offered for her capture"

What... what's this for?

Isn't it clear?

Her father was a high official in the court He offended Grand Eunuch Wei So his entire family is condemned to death It seems his daughter escaped with her nanny But the girl...

What? Have you seen her?

No, I haven't But if she's the daughter of an honest official...

Never mind that Just copy the notice Yes, sir Why can't they let her live?

The county has no say in the matter Please start drawing, Mr. Gu Sir!


A Captain of the Eastern Group is on his way here We'd better receive him Unlock the gate and let him in Yes, sir The Magistrate?

I'll tell him myself

They're arriving

We're honoured by your visit Thank you


Your county is surprisingly lively

Please forgive us Not possible

Your county is sheltering criminals wanted by the Imperial Court The penalties are grave We are at fault

What do you plan to do about it?

Sir, I've received orders from the Ministry of Justice to arrest Yang Huizhen A wanted poster has been issued Copies will be posted tomorrow on the main thoroughfares I will dispatch more constables to find and arrest her You fool!

You think your men can catch her?

We can raise the reward for catching her Out of the question!

She'll be alerted and will get away!

But the Ministry...

I'm in charge now Listen, the Commander will be here soon You'd better tread carefully Please advise me Destroy the posters Have your most able men on standby

Mr. Gu, stop copying! You'd better go Yes, sir

Mother! We must leave! What happened to your face?


Come on, hurry!


Should I hide in the temple? Yes Be careful! I will Watch out for thieves Hurry!

Take care!

Miss Yang!

Miss Yang!

Miss Yang!


Mr. Shi!

Who are you looking for?

Have you seen Miss Yang?

No, I'm blind I'm sorry

She and the old lady have left already

Mr. Shi!

She asked me to tell you to run for your life Where did she go? I don't know I must find her

Mr. Shi!

Mr. Shi!

Who are you really?

Well, I'm not blind Those people... Quiet!

Don't move


General Shi Show yourself!

He knows you!

Mr. Gu Stay away from these people They're fugitives



I'm all right

Why are you back here? Unfinished business You're wanted! The agents from the Eastern Group are chasing you!

What's your plan?

I'll be ready for them

You'll take on all of them?

You should go, Mr. Gu

I can't just leave

Why not?

We're almost like a married couple We should help each other

That's all over, don't mention it again

Then just think of me as a friend who wants to help This is a life-or-death fight How do you think you could help?

It will take strategic planning to win a fight like this

And you have a strategy?

We're outnumbered, we need a strategy to win

If you'll just trust me, I'm sure I can help

I'm in great danger now I have no choice but to trust you Good!

Then you... ...but I don't want to get you involved Don't worry about me Just tell me what's behind all this

"Know thyself and victory is thine"

Lu Ding'an...

Pay those scoundrels no heed

Two days ago I wrote to the Emperor I sent the report of your investigation It lists the 24 crimes of Eunuch Wei And the illegal activities of the Eastern Group Here are some copies Take them to our friends in Donglin Academy Your report might not reach the Emperor Then I shall seek an audience with His Majesty That might work

But if the report falls into Eunuch Wei's hands...

...he will be merciless I won't let that stop me


An imperial envoy is here with men from the Eastern Group

Prepare to receive him Yes, sir

Your Excellency A decree from His Majesty Yes, sir Shall we proceed?


All kneel to receive His Majesty's decree

Long live the Emperor

"Yang Lian, you are hereby summoned..."

"...to an immediate audience with His Majesty"

"By the Emperor's command"

Long live the Emperor!

Yang Lian Is it correct that you mentioned my name...

...in your report to the Emperor?

Yes You've made false accusations against Eunuch Wei I reported only facts!

Very forthright!

But you have embezzled two million taels from military funds...

What do you say to that?

It's outrageous If you accuse me of such crimes...

...no-one will believe a word of it So you won't confess?

You forged an Imperial Edict to get me here I'll inform His Majesty

Apply torture

My father suffered at their hands They tortured him to death Generals Shi and Lu...

...helped me to escape from the capital

That's Mr. Shi and Dr. Lu

But Eunuch Wei was relentless He had Eastern Group agents scour the land to find us The generals took me to the very border of the country



That way



Do not be alarmed They will not dare trouble you here

Did you see three people passing this way?

Before he died, he told his disciples...

I'm talking to you!

What happened here?

A while ago your men stooped to violence Fortunately we intervened...

...and saved those people from grievous harm Sir...

You're a monk You should practice meditation in your temple Not meddle in worldly affairs

There is no reason to shed blood in a Buddhist land

Master, they will surely go on to make more trouble You have travelled far Please take some rest in our monastery


This way

We stayed in the monastery for two years Abbot Huiyuan taught me how to defend myself

The world may be vast...

...but there is no safe place for us Maybe Abbot Huiyuan could help again...

He will not What about Magistrate Xu Zhengqing?

A just man like him will surely help

They say Eastern Group commander Men Da is coming It's a purported military exercise But in fact he and his deputy Nie Qiu are after you What will you do?

I want to ambush them en route No We must find a way to sap their strength


Here's a map of Fort Jinglu

You know the lie of this land

We should set a trap for them right here

I've been a student of military strategy since I was a child If they can be lured here...

...I can find a way to crush them!

Lu Qiong! What's the matter?

Miss Yang, Ouyang left for Green Bamboo Hill this morning

Could he be retreating?

No I think Men Da's men are arriving

We can't let Ouyang Nian make contact


They're Men Da's bodyguards They're very highly skilled Take them one at a time




Leave me alone

"Office of the Magistrate"




Bring a brush and ink Write a letter for me Yes, Captain



"To Commander Men Da of the Eastern Group"

"Survivors from Donglin Academy lie in wait here"

"Halt your advance"

"Ouyang Nian"

Dispatch it immediately He has already left the capital Hurry!

If there's any delay, I'll have your head Yes, sir

Who was that?

Nobody Keep everyone out Yes, sir, I've told the guards outside

Captain, your wounds...

I've taken medicine Now I must lie still I must have quiet Yes, Captain

General Lu Magistrate Xu He's badly wounded

Who is it?

Captain, your wounds are grave I've brought a doctor

I told you...

...to let no-one in!

It’s you!

Captain Ouyang

Lu Ding'an...

You timed this well I'm here to treat your wounds

We must lure Men Da here

Write to him!

A letter for His Excellency Wait Yes, sir

What is it?

Sir, a message from Ouyang Nian What does he say?

"Everything is ready for your arrival"

He says they are fully prepared Then let's advance Forward!

Men Da will set up base at Fort Jinglu When?

After he finds Ouyang Nian How many men are with him?

Around two hundred We're outnumbered We start by sapping their morale

I don't understand Spread the rumour that Fort Jinglu is haunted Surely that's too...

No, do it I think my mother could help with this...

I've seen a ghost!

One night...

...I saw someone standing on the fort He was this small at first sight But when I looked again...

...he grew bigger and bigger I tried to look more carefully. What a shock!


My respects, your Excellency Have you found Ouyang Nian?

No Have you been to the fort?


Your Excellency...

We hear the place is in ruins, ravaged by wars

Well then, clean it up


It's said that... the place is dirty Meaning what?

It's rumoured that...

...there are ghosts That's ridiculous Don't listen to such talk MOVE in there tomorrow

Yes, sir

Station a few men outside Yes, sir You four, stand guard Yes, sir Go in


You! Stop!

Stop! Stop!

What's going on?


Come on


What do you want?




There are ghosts outside!

Did this really happen?

Yes, I saw them myself I've heard many tales about ghosts and demons BUt I've never seen one I'd like to see for myself

Sir, you have the burden of command here I don't think you should take the risk Ghosts won't bother us

It's said they fear violent men!


Don't fall for this nonsense The stupid locals spread these rumours to make trouble But our men believe the stories

Maybe this is all a plot

What do you think, Magistrate?

Yes, Your Excellency is surely right

He doesn't believe it?

It seems he's starting to suspect the magistrate

No need for all this trouble Let's just kill them in the magistrate's office tonight That would ruin our plan We should lure them here tomorrow night

Then let's send Men Da a gift tomorrow

It's Ouyang Nian



Where was Ouyang Nian's body found?

Near Fort Jinglu

Captain Ouyang died in your area Evidently he was murdered What do you have to say?

I am to blame



Take him away and confine him Your Excellencies...

I have something to report!

Speak It's confidential, could you...

Now, speak

Yang Huizhen!

Isn't she Yang Liam's daughter?

Yes She has two renegade generals with her Splendid All three of them are here

Who else?

I heard they are gathering bandits They plan to storm into town to kidnap you

We'd better strike first Sir, if you permit me to command the troops...

...I can finish them all off tonight

We're ready, Sir


Don't move

What is it?

Sir, it's... true!

An ambush?


Two dead!

Sir, the rumours are true Ridiculous! Be alert for an ambush

What is it?

Look, sir...

Sir, maybe we should...

Try to calm them down!

Hold your positions!


Please tell the commander...

Men can't fight ghosts We should return in daylight We're soldiers, we've done terrible things Our deeds have spawned ghosts!

Sir, I think...

You're usually a sharp fellow!

Can't you see this is a plot to trick us?

Yes, sir To make us fear we've offended the gods You've attained high rank How can you believe such nonsense?

Sir, I've just talked with other officers...

What? Mutiny?

Don't panic! Protect His Excellency!

Don't let her get away!

It's Shi Wenqiao

Sir, they must be inside

Someone's there


I'll keep watch here You two go in and search

Miss Yang, please spare me!

"A woman's empathy is her weakness"

"Funerary Tablet of Yang Lian"

Miss Yang!

It's you!

Miss Yang!

Miss Yang!

Master, have you seen Miss Yang?

Where is she?

Have you seen Miss Yang?


Have you seen Miss Yang?

Yes, I saw her Where is she?

She asks you not to look for her

I must find her

"I have entered the monastery. The Gu family has its heir"

Yang Huizhen, this matter remains unresolved If I attain enlightenment, you will follow me Gu Shengzhai is in danger Go with General Shi

"Wanted: Gu Shengzhai"

That's him!

Catch him!



That's their commander-in-chief, Xu

General Shi Miss Yang

I'm the new commander of the Eastern Group, Xu My respects to General Shi I am honoured His Excellency Eunuch Wei orders me...

...to invite you to the capital for consultations

Please inform Eunuch Wei that Miss Yang and I...

...have retired from service to the Court We will not return to the capital Then I should say that you're to be put on trial All the more reason not to obey Then there is nothing I can do for you I suggest you reconsider

You take the fat one Go!

Stay back!

Commander Xu You are Abbot Huiyuan?

I am

You are celebrated in monastic circles Why are you harbouring criminals?

Isn't your reputation at risk?

I've not turned my back on the secular world General Shi once held high rank Miss Yang is from a noble family Evil men attacked them, so they fled in despair They wished to live in peace and seclusion But they have been hounded by agents of the Eastern Group The agents do their duty You know how unjustly the Donglin Academy is persecuted For Buddha's sake, show compassion and mercy A man cannot compromise And the Emperor's edicts must be obeyed

Tell Eunuch Wei that they've entered the monastery On my advice, they've renounced worldly affairs It's beyond reason to hear a monk challenging the law!

Commander Xu...

You were once a petty clerk in the eunuchs' bureau How dare you disturb our peace?

Now go I will arrest you for sheltering criminals!

Get this evil creature out of my sight

Lay down your weapons

Stay back!


Stay back!


His evil is not yet expunged General Shi!


Master, please take me in

You are not free of worldly bonds. Go back

Master, I've killed many people Phantoms haunt my dreams at night Sometimes I have visions Sometimes I feel gnawing pains

I wake in a cold sweat I have no wish...

...other than to end my days in the monastery Good! If you repent, you'll be saved Penitence is the answer

Master, take me in or I shall kneel here forever

The sea of suffering is boundless, come ashore Arise