Director: Yimou Zhang
Writer: Yu Cao (play) & Yimou Zhang
Budget: $45 million (estimated)
Gross: $4 538 871 (as of January 14th 2007)
Curse Of The Golden Flower is the latest spectacle from acclaimed chinese director yimou zhang, and i mean spectacle in the best sense of the word. anyone familiar with two of his other films, Hero and House Of Flying Daggers will know exactly how good his spectacles are. however, based on those two films they might also have certain expectations about Curse Of The Golden Flower that might not be completely fair or accurate.
i say this, because i am one of those people. i liked Hero and the Rashomonesque story, and i really liked House Of Flying Daggers, which is still one of the most visually stunning films i have seen. the point is however, that those two films feature much more fighting and martial artistry then does Curse Of The Golden Flower. This isn't a problem for the film, but you know how it is. sometimes we go in expecting certain things from a movie and are too focused on those things and therefor unable to appreciate the film for what it is on its own, and i don't want you to miss out on Curse Of The Golden Flower for such a reason.
Also, that doesn't mean there is no fighting or flying ninjas and gorgeous sword fights. in fact, the last 20 minutes or so of the movie is an incredible battle sequence that is both very gory and absolutely gorgeous at the same time. the cinematography and choreography is a feast for the eyes.
as is the art direction which happens to be the only thing the film has been nominated for at this years academy awards.
so what is the film about you ask? well, the story takes place during the time of the tang dynasty, 10th century in china and stars chow yun-fat as the emperor ping and gong li as his empress phoenix. they have two sons together and the emperor also has another son from a previous relationship. the movie begins with the return of the emperor and his son from war on the pretext of celebrating the chong yang festival with the entire family. it all seems innocent enough, but within the palace walls secrets abound.
for me the film was shakespeare. there are princes, emperors, empresses, scandal, family secrets, double-crosses, incest, love, plotting, loss and death. it was macbeth and hamlet set in 10th century china. grand sets, grand themes , grand emotions and grand acting are what the film gives us, and it works. the academy nominated art direction is stunning and it will be a long time before you forget the gorgeous rainbow colored interior of the palace or the carpet of bright yellow chrysanthemums covering the ground of the great courtyard of the forbidden city (over 1 million chrysanthemums were used).
Curse Of The Golden Flower is the most expensive chinese film to date and you can see every last penny of that $45 million dollars right up there on the screen. this is the first film in the filmed but not forgotten series that is currently in the theaters at the time of the review which is why the box office numbers are obviously not complete. however, given that the current north american haul isn't great and that it was somehow passed over by the academy for a foreign film nomination it is one that definitely deserves to be here. also, given the grand spectacle, the gorgeous colors and the large scale final battle scene, Curse Of The Golden Flower is a movie that really deserves to be seen on the big screen - so try to remember this one before it heads to video.