Four Moods (1970)

A who's who of Taiwanese cinema in 1970
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-01-07

The four moods are:

1. Joy (Pai Ching-Jui): a horny scholar receives a nocturnal visit from a beautiful ghost.
2. Anger (King Hu): various factions engage in nocturnal combat in a remote inn.
3. Sadness (Lee Hsing): A man gets out of prison to learn his family was massacred and his house is now occupied by a beautiful ghost
4. Happiness (Li Han-Hsiang): A fisherman meets a flautist who is also a ghost, and the two become drinking buddies.

The Sadness segment would actually better fit the title Anger, as it's a particularly rage-filled sort of sadness, whereas King Hu's segment might better fit the mood "Awesome".

With 3/4 films being based on stories from Pu Songling's classic Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, FOUR MOODS is reminiscent of Masaki Kobayashi's classic Kwaidan in tone and structure... if it was a bit shorter and one of the segments had a 20 minute sword fight in an inn (IIRC, not the case).

King Hu and Li Han-Hsiang's segments are about 45 minutes each whilst the others get 25 - none outstays its welcome.

Pai Ching-Jui's opening segment is arguably the most interesting, a dialogue-free haunted comedy driven by the camera and the music, but King Hu's familiar tale of Inn-trigue is the film's highlight, thanks to the really well choreographed and filmed extended action scene that fills the second half.

Li Han-Hsiang's segment is the weakest (I've never really enjoyed his work), but the other three are all good to great.

The disc in the new Spectrum Asie boxset is English-friendly by default since it's scanned from a theatrical print, but I'll upload a somewhat improved translation of the French subs to OpenSubtitles anyway.