The Legend of Zu

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The Legend of Zu
Film poster
Traditional 蜀山傳
Simplified 蜀山传
Mandarin Shǔ Shān Zhuàn
Cantonese Suk6 Saan1 Cyun4
Directed by Tsui Hark
Produced by Tsui Hark
Brian Cox
Anant Singh
Written by Lee Man-choi
Tsui Hark
Starring Ekin Cheng
Louis Koo
Cecilia Cheung
Patrick Tam
Zhang Ziyi
Sammo Hung
Music by Ricky Ho
Cinematography Herman Yau
Poon Hang-sang
William Yim
Edited by Marco Mak
Film Workshop
One Hundred Years of Film Company Ltd.
Distributed by China Star Entertainment Group
Release dates
  • 9 August 2001 (2001-08-09)
Running time
104 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Mandarin
Budget $35 million[citation needed]
Box office HK $11,757,088.00[1]

The Legend of Zu, also known as Zu Warriors in the United States, is a 2001 Hong Kong film produced and directed by Tsui Hark. The film starred Ekin Cheng, Louis Koo, Cecilia Cheung, Patrick Tam, Zhang Ziyi and Sammo Hung. It is based on the same source as the 1983 film Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain.


Peace-keeping immortals living in clans inhabit a mythical mountain range called Zu, which exists between Heaven and Earth. A demon called Insomnia desires to rule Zu and the world below; it begins wiping out the various clans. In the Kunlun Mountains, Dawn sends away her apprentice, King Sky, because she believes that their emotional attachment hinders their progress. She gives him her weapon, the Moon Orb, to help him train; he is to return only after attaining a higher level. If she cannot be found, the Moon Orb will find her. Moments after they part, Insomnia attacks Dawn and disintegrates her.

200 years later, at Omei, Grandmaster White Brows senses darkness coming and dispatches his disciple, Red, to investigate. King Sky joins Red and the Omei clan to fight Insomnia. White Brows engages and weakens Insomnia with his weapon, the Sky Reflector; Insomnia retreats into the legendary Blood Cave; Omei's top warriors pursue Insomnia. At the cave, King Sky notices Enigma, who resembles Dawn. White Brows warns that the cave is capable of sucking away the powers of those who venture near it. Red and King Sky risk their lives to battle Insomnia within the cave, but they narrowly escape after White Brows sacrifices the Sky Reflector to save them. With Insomnia absorbing the cave's energy, White Brows has Red guard the cave entrance while the Omei reconnoiter.

At Omei, White Brows tries to combine Enigma's Heaven Sword with Hollow's Thunder Sword, the two guardian weapons, to form a new weapon, the Flaming Sword of Thunder. Unfortunately, the fusion process fails, turning it into scrap metal, and rebounds; Hollow dies and Enigma is seriously injured, but King Sky rescues her. White Brows appears before King Sky and admits that Enigma is the reincarnation of Dawn. He then appoints King Sky as the chief of Omei as he ventures into a new dimension to find a weapon to defeat Insomnia. Before leaving, he resurrects Hollow, who is renamed "Ying", hoping that the reborn Hollow can wield the Thunder Sword in their most desperate hour. King Sky asks Enigma to help him attempt to use the sword, but is unsuccessful and he was burnt alive in the process. Enigma tries to save him, but fails and buries him.

Meanwhile, Red is possessed by Amnesia (a flower demon) while guarding the Blood Cave. Red returns to Omei and decimates the clan and captures Enigma. Amnesia then destroys the rest of Omei, weakening the clan. To the survivors' frustration, Ying has yet to re-awaken his abilities. In a pitted fight against one of the Sword Saints, Thunder, Ying's abilities and memories return. Concurrently, through the power of resurrection, King Sky revives just in time to intercept White Brows's weapon. With his new weapon, King Sky joins Ying in confronting Red at the Blood Cave.

After Ying rescues Enigma, they return to Omei to stop Insomnia's final assault. King Sky exorcises Red, but the latter sacrifices himself to destroy Amnesia. At Omei, Enigma and Ying successfully fuse their swords to form a new weapon to defeat Insomnia. King Sky joins the duo and they weaken Insomnia. Enigma possesses Insomnia to prevent the demon from escaping, giving King Sky a chance to destroy it. Just as Insomnia is destroyed, Enigma remembers herself as Dawn and tells King Sky she is happy to find him again before disappearing. After the battle, Enigma is reincarnated as a new immortal and Mount Omei is restored. King Sky parts with the Omei to rebuild his clan.



Box office[edit]

The film grossed HK$10 million in its theatrical release in Hong Kong.[2]


Although Miramax Films bought the rights to distribute it in the United States, the film was never released in theaters, despite advertising the American release with movie trailers (which appeared as previews & on the Apple website under Movie Trailers). It was eventually released on DVD on 19 August 2005 under the title of Zu Warriors.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Those who praised the film mostly noted its thrilling action scenes and elaborate, computer-generated sets.[3]

Unfortunately, the U.S. release cut the film down extensively, from 104 minutes to 80 minutes. Most of the scenes that were cut were plot and character development based, leaving most of the action intact. The end result being that the U.S. release (while action packed) is much harder to follow, with shallow characters and a plot so stripped of substance that it does not inspire the viewer to care about what is happening. The film is weakened dramatically from its original edit.


  1. ^ HKMDB
  2. ^ "The Legend of Zu". 31 December 2001. 
  3. ^ Carr, Kevin (18 September 2001). "The Legend of Zu". Retrieved 2006-06-25. 

External links[edit]