Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Curse of the Golden Flower (满城尽带黄金甲)

I went to a pre-screen of China's Oscar contender for best foreign film "Curse of the Golden Flower" ("满城尽带黄金甲", opens on Dec 22).

This is the latest epic film by director Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) with stunning visual and a weird story.

"Curse of the Golden Flower" ("满城尽带黄金甲") is set in China's Tang Dynasty. It tells a story about the royal family: the Emperor, the Empress, and their three Princes, among other servants.

I will not say much about what's happening among these characters, because that's the whole movie is about: the secret. Everyone has a secret, so are these characters. The more secret we learn, the more shocking the story gets. It becomes so weird that I started to giggle in the theatre. Well, I wasn't alone. Others did too.

Zhang is a master for creating spectacular scenes that would wow all of us. He succeeded in this film as well, except I don't understand why they built this giant platform right in front the Emperor's palace. It's so hight that the Emperor sits at about the same level as the roof of his palace. Have you seen somebody sits on top of their garage door? That's what I was thinking when I saw it.

platform in the film Gong Li (巩俐) plays the Empress. Of course that's an unhappy character. I have never seen any happy character Gong Li ever played. And before this film, I didn't know that she has big boobs too. When she was walking with the incredible costume in this film, I can't help but to notice how her boots were shaking up and down half way out of the costume.

Not only Gong Li. Almost all the female actors wearing costumes like a night gown that Cher would wear on stage, only it's about 1000 years ago. That's just absurd. Does Zhang Yimou lost his mind to let them wear gowns like that exposing their breasts?

Just like time, if you squeeze the breasts, you will have some.

I was surprised to see Jay Chou (周杰伦) in the film playing the second prince. He really should just sing. Actually none of the performance by male characters are impressive, except Yun-Fat Chow (周润发) playing the Emperor.

It is based on a famous play "Thunderstorm" ("雷雨") written by a great Chinese writer Cao Yu (曹禺). Unfortunately the film doesn't posses the power of the original play. I remember how I became overwhelmed by the play when I first read and saw it back in my high school days.

When I was watching this film, another great film "The Lion in Winter" kept coming back to me. It's also a story about the fascinating struggling among royal family members. Zhang's film definitely has an incredible story to tell, and it's up to the audience to believe it or not.

This is one of those fantastic looking films should be seen on a big screen. No, big screen TV doesn't cut it. Go to a theatre. I don't know how many chrysanthemum flowers Zhang used when making this film. What I do know is that next time when I make some chrysanthemum tea, it won't taste the same with the images from this film in mind.

My rating: 7 out of 10.

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