Thursday, December 21, 2006

Curse Of The Golden Flower

If you enjoyed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "House of Flying Daggers", or "Hero", you will certainly be looking forward to this latest period piece out of China. I know I was. Starring Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li and directed by Yimou Zhang, "Golden Flower" had all the ingredients for a smash hit. Unfortunately, the film does not perform up to the standards of the previously mentioned films.

The story is full of family secrets, double crosses, incest, and betrayals but bogs down terribly in the first half. The setup for all this intrigue is very slow and not much actually happens but Zhang redeems himself in the second half of the film when secrets are revealed and betrayals are set in motion.The CGI work in the climatic battles scenes could have been better. Much of the fighting resembles a videogame but the close-up martial arts work is terrific. The good news is the film is beautiful to watch. The colors, sets, costumes, and pageantry are outstanding.

Yun-Fat, playing the Emperor, (aside from a quick sword fight he performs sitting down) doesn't have much to do except brood and Gong Li, beautiful as always, plays her part as the Empress pretty much the same way with much biting of the lip. The story is Shakespearean in scope (although it actually predates Shakespeare) and for fans of this genre, it works but it could have been stronger.

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