The most beautiful and innovative wuxia of this period were directed by King Hu, who combined Japanese samurai films, Chinese philosophy, and Western film techniques, creating elegant masterpieces like A Touch of Zen and Dragon Inn. Hu’s films featured gravity-defying fight scenes and strong female protagonists, and his unique style in films like Legend of the Mountain and The Fate of Lee Khan, would be a major influence on later directors.
At the same time, a wuxia variant, the “kung fu” film, emerged, with stories in the present day. The most popular starred martial artist Bruce Lee, whose films The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and Enter The Dragon, were successful world-wide. Later kung fu films incorporated comedy, with actors like Jackie Chan bringing a touch of slapstick to films like Fearless Hyena, Fantasy Mission Force, and Project A.
In India, commercial cinema’s popularity was dwindling, and it would take two screenwriters, Salim Khan & Javed Akhtar, to help resurrect “Bollywood.” Salim-Javed incorporated various genres (action, comedy, romance, & melodrama), into a new genre dubbed the “masala” film. Engaging with India’s political & economic realities and featuring morally conflicted characters, these films helped create new stars in Indian cinema, the most prominent being Amitabh Bachchan. Known for his “angry young man” roles, Bachchan would become a major player in Bollywood, starring in such films as Amar, Akbar, Anthony, Kasme Vaade, Kaala Patthar, and Pukar.America would also see a rise in its commercial film industry thanks to three new films that would begin the era of the “blockbuster.” First, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, despite studio belief it would flop, was a box office success, becoming the first horror film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Next, Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws became the highest grossing film of the time,