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smilebomb

Kung-fu flicks with great scenery/locations

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There's a certain vibe about these movies I like, and part of that is where they were filmed and how they visually embrace nature. Movies like 7 Grandmasters and Crystal Fist have these rolling misty mountains, valleys & hills that are always very striking to me. The finale of 18 Fatal Strikes starts off with this great shot of the characters in a meadow swarmed in dragonflies--I always remember that scene first.

Shaw Brothers' more artificial, stagey look had its charms, too. Human Lanterns and The Magic Blade have a legitimately dreamlike feel thanks to the lighting and the self-contained visual language of the sets.

This stuff can make a fight seem much more intense and fantastic, I think. Which films are the best in this regard?

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No "old school" era director used natural locations better than King Hu.

While I couldn't call it the best, I'm really a big fan of the somewhat obscure Shaw wuxia The Imperial Swordsman (although it should be translated Imperial Swordsmen). One of the main reasons is the magnificent "artificial" set design filled with rolling mists, purple skies, deep chiaroscuro, and the main setting, which is a labyrinth-like castle. The film plays it straight, but it all looks like something out of a fantasy film. And unlike most Shaw films, I can't recall most of these sets from other films. All this a whole four years before Chor Yuen made Killer Clans.

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Those that spring to mind first are...

Jet Li's second film, KIDS FROM SHAOLIN,,shot near Xingping along the Li River in Guanxi province.

Lau Kar Leung's MARTIAL ARTS OF SHAOLIN was partially shot in this gorgeousl area, too.

YELLOW RIVER FIGHTER set in the wintry loess-scapes of Shaanxi looked stunning as well.

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Mainland films in general seem to have great natural scenery, and often authentic sets, thanks to the greater resources and locations available to them. Case in point, Hua Shan's Disciples of Shaolin Temple, which makes the Temple feel genuinely monastic, something you never saw in brightly lit 70s films.

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Which received a solid HK-style "wire-fu" era sequel during the '90s.

I've not seen the sequel, so you liked it? I like 90s wire fu films, most of the reviews seemed to portray the film in a negative light. Is your avatar from The Sword? I really liked that film a lot, if it is.

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You have a couple thousand movies to choose from. Just pop one in and you have a 50% chance of seeing some great locations. If it's the spectacular set design you're looking for check out just about any Chor Yuen movie. As for independent movies having good set design look for the sword plays, like Miraculous Flower and Dream Sword.

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