10th Century China, during Tang
Dynasty, on the eve of the Chrysanthemum Festival, the Emperor (Yun-Fat) unexpectedly
returns to the Forbidden City with this second born son, Prince Jai (Chou)
to unite his family in celebration but he returns to a palace of discontent.
The Empress (Li) has become consumed with anger, as the medicine she has been
ordered to take by her husband for over ten years has not cured her illness,
plots to make her son Prince Jai the next emperor. To do this she plans to
reveal a secret that will force the Emperor to abdicate in shame, if not her
army will take the palace by force.
Zhang Yimou concludes
his 'Wuxia' trilogy but is 'Curse of the Golden Flower' the best of the three?
mixing Chinese fables and martial arts in the visual stunning and superbly
realised period movie epics 'Hero' and 'House of Flying Daggers', writer/director
Yimou Zhang finishes his trilogy with probably his most ambitious project
yet. Based on the play Yu Cao, 'Curse of the Golden Flower' is a very different
from the first two films in the series. This time the drama takes centre stage
with the martial arts used sparingly until the jaw dropping final third of
The movie is all about
power and the political and emotion movements needed to gain control of the
empire. The two powerhouses facing off are the Emperor and the Empress, play
with great gusto by Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li. Each have their own agenda for
the future of the empire and their destiny lies in gaining the allegiances
of the Princes. The Crown Prince Wan, played by Ye Liu, the eldest brother
and stepson of the Empress, holds the key to the Empress's plan but he is
torn between duty to his father and his country. Prince Jai, up and coming
Asian superstar Jay Chou, adores his father and is destined to be Emperor
but the illness of his mother at the hands of the Emperor means that his loyalties
lay with the Empress. Prince Yu (Junjie Qin), the youngest is the forgotten
son, who is seen to have no influence still has an important role to play.
This emphasis on drama means that action that complimented the two previous
movies in the trilogy so well, takes a back seat but this is to the determent
of the movie.
While the drama of
the Forbidden City is the main thrust of the movie, the few action scenes
that mainly take place during the final third of the movie are simply stunning.
The ninja attack scenes will have you on the edge of your seat but it is the
final battle inside the Forbidden City itself that will have you riveted throughout.
These scenes are truly astonishing as the two armies face off against each
other in the palace and can easily compete with anything that Hollywood has
produced over the last few years. The battle scenes make the look of the film.
Yimou Zhang and his creative team have surpassed even 'Hero' and 'House of
Flying Daggers', drenching you in a cavalcade of colour and a parade of costumes
that are simply dazzling. Each frame of this film, as with the rest of the
trilogy, could be used as a piece of art and hung on your wall, proving again
that the production design on these movies are one of the best you will ever
'Curse of the Golden
Flower' is an Asian period drama that has too much drama for its own good.
While epics 'Hero' and 'House of Flying Daggers', mixed martial arts and drama
with astonishing results, the third movie in the series doesn't have the same
mix and the story itself isn't strong enough to be the main focus of the movie.
This doesn't mean that this isn't still a fascinating movie and one that will
sit well in its accomplished in the resurgence in Asian epic cinema.
Presented in Widescreen
2.35:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is good.
Documentary (21.45 mins)
Director Zhang Yimou, costume designer Yee Chung Man, action director
Tony Chung Siu Tang and stars Chow Yun Fat, Gong Li and Jay Chou take you
behind the scenes of the making of 'Curse of the Golden Flower'. The filmmaker
and his cast and crew talk about the Tong Dynasty in Feudal China and recreating
that time, through costumes and extremely authentic set design and construction.
The actors also talk about their roles and working with Zhang Yimou, as well
as the elaborate action sequences with the finale requiring one thousand real
soldiers. This is a fascinating featurette that shows how much work went into
producing this beautiful film.
The Emperor Featurette
Chow Yun Fat talks about his character in the movie, the difficulty in
speaking Mandarin and what he had to go through to prepare himself for the
The Empress Featurette
Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat talk about the character, the costumes, sets
and the Phoenix gown that the Empress was so elaborately dressed in.
Watch the teaser and the theatrical trailers for the movie
Photo Gallery (1.57
Watch a montage of images from the movie
Trailers for 'Atonement' and 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age'
The DVD treatment
for 'Curse of the Golden Flower' is one that will please fans. The featurettes
are good and it is a shame that a director's commentary wasn't included but
for a foreign language movie, the bonus features are good. Fans should be
pleased with this release.
of Flying Daggers
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