The Essence of the Movie Legend of Zu Mountain
by Michael Chung
Legend of Zu Mountain is based on the novel Warriors from Zu Mountain (Zu Shan Chien Hsia) written by Li Show-Min, also known as the owner of Building of Returning the Pearl. This novel contains a collection of stories about the legendary Zu Mountains, located in Szuchuan, Huangshan and Chang Chia Chieh.
Some of the characters and sub-plots may be hard for western viewers to understand because they have not read the novel before seeing the movie. The director assumed that most viewers were already familiar with the novel and did not fill in the missing details.
We will attempt to fill in the missing details for western viewers as well as point out the key points, the essence if you will, of the movie.
The English subtitles for this movie identify the negative evil force that attempts to take over the world as Insomnia. This name was chosen because when a person has too many negative forces (that is, thinks too much and uses his mind constantly), he is unable to be quiet, so he can・t relax or sleep well. Anyone who has suffered from insomnia or been sleep-deprived knows what a special hell this can be. In our discussion of this movie, however, we will use the name Blood Devil instead of Insomnia because it is closer to the Chinese term.
The Kun Lun School
Kun Lun is one of many schools of chikung. This particular school consists of only two people at any one time: the teacher and the student. In this movie, Kun Lun consists of a female teacher (Dawn) and her male student (King Sky) who has been studying with her for 200 years. Dawn tells King Sky that her personal progress in training is being limited by her emotions. Because she doesn・t want to limit his progress, too, she tells him to leave. Dawn tells King Sky to master her weapon, the moon orb, and then return to her. If she isn・t there when he returns, the moon orb will find her for him. She says that she will worry about the evil forces only when they come.
An important thing to notice about Kun Lun is that it is only by letting go of everything that you can be promoted to a higher level.Long Brows
Long Brows (with his distinctive long white eyebrows) has been the head of the Omei chikung school for more than 2,000 years. He also played a key role in the previous movie New Swordsmen from Zu Mountains. Long Brows commands the weapon known as the sky mirror or sky reflector.
In Legend of Zu Mountain Long Brows teaches two important messages. First, he tells his students not to be greedy, envious or jealous as these are poisonous elements which will block them from further progress. Second, when Long Brows sends the two students to check on the Blood Cave, he knows that they will have to fight themselves. These two students represent the best students from the Kun Lun school (King Sky) and the Omei school (Red). To be successful in fighting external wicked forces, the balance you need is inside yourself. You must get rid of your rigidity first before you can fight external forces.Party of Righteousness
The Party of Righteousness consists of the Omei students, the Kun Lun student King Sky, seven saints and 300 ．castles・ (humans who own castles or forts). This party believes that they represent justice, but actually they are a group of negative forces because they use their minds constantly. The Blood Devil uses their negative forces to distract and trap both them and their forces, which allows it to open the cave. This Party of Righteousness is ineffective against the Blood Devil because any extreme action they take leads to great imbalance in their thoughts and actions.
Long Brows, on the other hand, knows how to overcome the Blood Devil, so he can be more balanced. The only way to overcome the Blood Devil is to fight the negative forces within yourself and not fight the Blood Devil. This is difficult to do because it requires you to release the forces of the Blood Devil and release yourself. Releasing the forces of the Blood Devil is accomplished by merging the Sword of Heaven and the Sword of Thunder. Such a merger is difficult to do because human memory creates feeling and emotion which are distracting and prevent the concentration required for the merger to be successful. Releasing your self is accomplished by finding the three elements (that is, Heaven, Earth and Man). Although Long Brows asks King Sky to find them, it does not mean that he is the only person who can do so. Long Brows just asks King Sky to form a search party for the elements. Long Brows himself is controlled and enlightened so he is able to let go of his self to sacrifice his self. His doing this results in breaking down the blockages of absolute power and aberrations caused by his followers focusing on their leader. When Long Brows does this, his followers should be able to find their self and the Tao. But King Sky is distracted and blocked (by Enigma and sentimental emotions which remind him of the past), so he doesn・t understand exactly what Long Brows meant when he requested him to find the three elements. Instead, King Sky assumes that Long Brows meant that King Sky was the only person who could find them. Enigma says they need to enter the Tri Element Hall to get the Sword of Thunder so he can merge with her Sword of Heaven. King Sky fails to get it because he is filled with too many desires. As a result of the failed merger, he burns up like a phoenix, but this is a form of transformation. Enigma is not as distracted because she realizes she has a pre-destinated relationship with King Sky.
Rebirth of the Sword of Thunder
Long Brows recreated the Sword of Thunder by using his forces and the forces of Enigma・s Sword of Heaven. The new master of the Sword of Thunder, Ying, can・t remember anything of his past. Above anything else, he wants to find out who he was. Enigma says that before he can do that, he has to find his ．real・ sword first. By this, she means he needs to find his real face or real self, and only then he can control his sword or forces. Finding his real sword has advantages and disadvantages: it is good because it reveals his consciousness and ability to distinguish between this and that and defend. In this way, he can make progress. On the other hand, it is bad because he denies truth from reality by not seeing the real truth and reverting to his own potentially faulty judgment. Enigma is waiting for Ying to find his real sword first before she teaches him. Since Ying is so obsessed with finding out who he was, his spirit and wisdom are closed and he is blocked. He needs to become enlightened, but he takes too long. Enigma misjudged the situation and thought that Ying already had his sword and was already enlightened, but this is not the case. Enigma wants to teach him how to fight and use magic, but Ying stubbornly insists that if he can become enlightened by himself, then he doesn・t need Enigma・s help. This leads to Enigma and Ying fighting, and ends with Ying being tied up and suspended from the cliff. This is like a Zen method of desperate solitude in which if you let go of your self, you might be able to find your self.
Red comes to destroy the Omei School
When Red comes to destroy the Omei school, a human named Dwan Lei along with the general・s daughter Chen Le-tien try to lead all the followers and people to defend it. However, his level of gung fu is not high enough, so his mind gets clouded. At a critical moment, Enigma destroyed the visual negative forces on Omei, but she is unable to let go of her own conscious blind spot. Consequently, when she is near Red she is absolutely open and defenseless. Enigma and Red have the same problems and so she is possessed by the Red Corpse again.How Ying is totally reborn
Ying was blocked from being enlightened by his own rigidity and stubbornness. When he saw the Omei school destroyed (such an unbelievable thing!), his rigidity was destroyed. He was then able to let go and open up and find his real sword again.
King Sky is reborn
Long Brows sends the message that he・s unleashed the universal forces and his own spiritual forces to save King Sky and to speed up his rebirth procedure. As a result, King Sky is reborn and unifies the three elements and then gets together with Ying to enter the Blood Cave to fight Red. Red says he・s powerful in order to distract King Sky, but when King Sky is almost defeated, Enigma・s Sword of Heaven and Ying・s Sword of Thunder merge and fight the Blood Devil. During the merger, Enigma finds her energy can link up with King Sky due to the moon orb weapon. This awakens King Sky and breaks the Blood Cave. It provides an external link between the universal forces, Dawn and rebirth forces so King Sky wakes up with enormous power. He breaks Red・s forces and transforms him from evil to normal. At the last moment Red knows he did bad things and asks King Sky to destroy him. This means that Red・s negative side will be destroyed so he won・t be reborn with such terrible negative forces.
How Enigma merged with Dawn
This sort of merger requires a pure mind which is not attached to anything. Otherwise, you will find all negative forces around you everywhere. Enigma had destroyed the negative forces and returned to her deep real face or her original face so she has Dawn・s spirit when she looks into Blood Devil・s body. Because she had tried to correct all the imbalances within her quality, when she and Dawn become one, she becomes enlightened at a higher level and gets a new sword (new forces) so she can sell everything. Enigma tells King Sky she has the feeling of Dawn again (she recalls their relationship but puts it behind them) so King Sky is promoted with much purer and larger forces. The second time when Dawn・s face breaks into pieces, King Sky does not have the same sense of loss as he had the first time it happened. The first time her face broke into pieces it was destructive; the second time it was positive.
Chi Kung Culture Society of TAIPEI