Curse of the Golden Flower

Despite coming from the same director don’t expect this to be anything like ‘Hero’ or ‘House of the flying Daggers’ there is less fighting and more story for a start. Set on the eve of the Chrysanthemum festival in China’s Tang Dynasty it tells the story of  an emperor who returns from conflict to re-unite his family, his eldest son by a previous marriage and his two youngest by the princess of a neighboring province he has taken as his wife, and rule over his created Kingdom. Simply all you need know from the rest of the story is that it is pure Shakespearian and Greek tragedy all betrayals and double crosses and dark secrets that could rip the family apart and threaten the kingdom and the emperors rule. The emperor is played with seething malice and subdued intelligence by Chow Yu-Fat and his beautiful but naive princess is played by Gong Li who spends the whole film looking stunning, together they work off each other like a soap opera couple all smiles in public and frantic bickering behind closed doors. Their sons are a mixture from the bizarre flirtings and infidelities of the eldest to the warrior instinct of his soldier brother and finally the wet but aspiring nature of the youngest and they all constantly via for their parents affections in various ways. Of course there is some fighting and it is as usual very impressive and stylistic but more than that it is the buildings and rooms and costumes and colours that make this a feast for the eyes. It’s the jewelry and embroidery and armour and general attention to every minute detail that has you not quite sure where to look on the screen, although its mostly longingly into Gong Li’s deep eyes as the camera loves her and so it should. As the twists and turns bring the characters to their knees and armies into combat the melodrama becomes more and more tense until the final outcome signals the end of the film. If you want a story that is complex and exciting coupled with visuals that you wont see anywhere else then watch this movie, but if its crazy kung-fu you’re after then stick with your ‘Kung-fu hustles’ and ‘Warrior king’s as this one is a clever eastern drama of multi-layers and epic proportions.

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