At the night, thousands of soldiers are trampled as blood spills across the Imperial Palace in a spectacular final battle. The acting was also very good, anchored by experienced great actors like Chou Yun-Fat and Gong Li. Think about the movie Jean De La Florette where the protagonist is slowly killed by the grinding labor of finding non-existing water. Disscusing this film in the technique way is not the important thing. That said, this movie had an effect on me, and as mentioned, it is very well crafted. It's basically a family drama, though in a rather fascinating and different setting for such a story.
Few also have managed to weave the threads of so many tangled tortured relationships into such a spellbinding masterpiece of tragedy. This movie has been described as a martial arts epic. Chow Yun-fat is also good but his role is not as rich as hers. The metal nail extensions worn by the Empress, the head accesories, the golden embroidery, every detail was extremely well cared. And omg Jay Chou looks soo. The Empress, who eventually engineers the meltdown of the entire court, carries on an affair with her stepson, the Crown Prince Liu Ye who, in turn, sleeps with the beauteous Chan Li Man , both blissfully - but not for long - unaware that they are closely related.
I liked his older films better - Raise the Red Lantern, Huo Zhe, etc. Gold is the tone throughout the picture. This is not the action movie some might expect, though there is enough near the end to earn the R rating. Couple this with the usual Eastern martial arts film wire work and you got yourself a film that's almost unsure of where to go when all is said and done. It teetered on the abyss of being comically horrid, and yet was really striving to be a classic film. Could she be headed down an ominous path? Wonderfully photographed especially when against a moonlit night, thousands of chrysanthemum blossoms are trampled as blood spills across the Imperial Palace.
This film is based on a novel Thunder Storm by Chao Yu in 40s of 20th century, and the background is changed to about 9th century. Meanwhile, Prince Jai, the faithful son, grows worried over the Empress's health and her obsession with golden chrysanthemums. Zhang Yimou is a master at storytelling, and he does it exceptionally well in this film. Jai's brothers will have to make their own choices. Watch this movie only if there's nothing else to watch.
I saw this film yesterday at its premiere festival on Dec 14 2006 and I'm so excited for it, I believe it's the best Zhang Yimou's film in past 10 years! Zhang forms part of China's Fifth Generation of filmmakers, who began making films after the Cultural Revolution , others from this group include Chen Kaige and Jinzhan Zhang. Storyline: China, Later Tang Dynasty, 10th Century. And yes, the Chinese Imperial Palace is displayed on an extravagantly grand scale just because it is possible to do it only in China! The filmmakers who designed and implemented all the sets and costumes should take a hell of a lot of pride in what they do. As the Imperial Family continues its elaborate charade in a palatial setting, thousands of golden armored warriors charge the palace. Without a doubt, it shows Yimou Zhang's skills in his profession, and I do recommend it.
And it's got the poisoning that was all the rage in those days, as well as incest. They were fashionable only after the Ming dynasty 1368-1644 and made famous by Empress Cixi of the Qing dynasty 1644-1911. This is cinema at its best. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. I would definitively enjoyed it more. My major complaint is that he could have cut out some of the side stories while allowing the major line to a fuller development.
There's just too much material here crammed into too confined a space with ornamental violence that seems too unrelated to the central core of royal machinations. The empress favors the flower as well, in her hair, on her robe, even in embroideries. I usually don't think much of costuming or set design, but I must say that after seeing Chow Yun-Fat's golden suit of armor, or anything Gong Li was in, or the design of their personal quarters, I really hope for some Oscar recognition. Just as the viewer finds him- or herself starting to feel sorry for one character--for example the Empress who is being tortured by her husband, or the Emperor who has been scandalously betrayed by his wife--it turns out that nobody is 100 percent innocent, not even the youngest of the royal family's three sons. Jai decides to help his mother overthrow the Emperor, while Wan takes his father's side. Each layer has been meticulously handcrafted.
Sure, as a spectacle it's frequently eye-popping. However, if you go in expecting extravagant sword fights, kung-fu, battles, you are going to be disappointed. It's only a picture; with the aid of the Imperial Doctor, he is poisoning the Empress with a slow poison that will drive her crazy. But Chinese audience is very tolerable, they watch they comment and they despise. Chow has improved on his accent tremendously which was very strange in Crouching Tiger and portrayed the Emperor with magnitude and hysterical outrage.
Who can forget the spatial existence of discovered deceit in the flickering flames in front of the throne? The Emperor Chow Yun Fat returns unexpectedly with his second son, Prince Jai Jay Chou. Third Brother, still in his mid-teens, is shy and doesn't say a lot, but he has has mastered Yogi Berra's principle that you can observe a lot by watching. Chan and her mother, Jiang Shi Chen Jin are forced back to the palace. Despite his active love life, the Crown Prince is a self-doubting dweeb who has never left the Imperial Palace. Against a moonlit night, thousands of chrysanthemum blossoms are trampled as blood spills across the Imperial Palace. It may be over-the-top at times, but she shows that nobody else can play this vengeful and solitary empress better than her. If anything it was a little sub par, but not much, and typically and needlessly melodramatic.