Movie Review - Curse of the Golden Flower

>> Monday, January 22, 2007

I've always regarded Director Zhang YiMou as one of the greatest Chinese Director there's ever been. He has a highly skillful storytelling ability that is unsurpassed by anybody else. There are only few better than him and it is because they have the big hollywood budget for it. But lately, I've been quite disappointed in him.

Director Zhang has gone commercial. So much so that he does not even care about having a story in his films. A talented storyteller such as Zhang should never give up the story and go for those action-based Kung-Fu movies. It's inherently wrong. I understand that people want kung-fu movies, and that's what pays well, but to give up those high quality, carefully crafted drama is such a waste of talent.

Curse of the golden flower is a beautifully staged film set in Tang dynasty when all of China is bathed in luxury, excess and chrysanthemum is in trend. The movie tries very hard to capture its audience with stunning colors and costumes. You can see gold everywhere, on the king's armor, on the architectures, on the costumes, on the queen's elaborate headress and fingertips, on her chrysanthemum embroidery. The whole movie you can see tons of color contrasts, A whole field of yellow, a whole army of neon green and neon blue, multi colorpillars and columns in the palace. It is quite busy for the eye. Maybe they try to stay true to the Tang Dynasty of being excess, and that stays around the entire movie - the feeling of excess. The movie makes it look like every Chinese knows Kung-Fu and Chinese Medicine.

The movie is about the emperial family in China, where a rift exist between the king (Chow yun-fat) and the queen (Gong Li). The king is secretly poisoning his queen for having an affair with his son, and the queen is retaliating with a rebellion act. After all these years, I am still mesmerized by Gong Li's exceptional skills. She is undoubtedly the star of this movie. Chow Yun-Fat plays a strict emperor who's broken family has driven him to craziness. There's not much depth in the story, just a few lines to explain the relations of several people. Any mysteries that had built up was immediately explained five minutes later. The movie ends with a violent explosion of fights and killing. At the end, it all seems to be a shameless career built up move for singer/actor Jay Chou into the international market. After all he's the only one who died for a "righteous" reason, and it is his songs that played at the end with translation and all.

There are a few points that doesn't make sense to me. The army that comes out of nowhere and why doesn't the king just kill the queen bugs me a bit and what the medicine represents that they have to stress it again and again. For me it's a "C-"!

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