Eight Diagram Pole Fighter ★★★★★

Probably Lau Kar-leung's darkest film, bringing an end to the Shaw Brothers era with a bleak, brutal distillation of his most fundamental subject, the impulse to worldly revenge versus the pious imperative for withdrawal in the face of injustice. A palace, an inn, a temple, a cabin in the woods, an abstract, unearthly battlefield: the scene of a nihilist apocalypse. Unable to prevent himself from taking bloody vengeance, the hero walks away. Not into the sunset, but towards the audience and into the world.