Lady Yuhuan Yang is the beloved Imperial Concubine of the Chinese Emperor. Her brother Yang, the Prime Minister, is corrupt and the Fanyang Chief revolts and imperils the throne. This has grave consequences for the Yangs and the Emperor.
American pilot Cliff Brandon, fighting the Japanese in China, finds himself the unintentional "owner" of a Chinese housekeeper, Shu-Jen. The unlikely couple falls in love and marries, but not without tragedy brought on by the war.
Interesting story, but executed in a mediocre fashion
Empress Wu tells the story of China's only female emperor. While this is a very interesting story in history, the film does only a marginal job of bringing it to the viewer. The director, Li Han-Hsiang, uses several short anecdotes from throughout the empress' life. While this could have been an effective storytelling method, they are all far too similar to grab the viewer's interest.
Almost every anecdote involves some threat to the throne, which the main characters then must act against. The main problem with this approach is that none of the plotters agianst the throne have fully developed characters, so it is hard to understand why they want to take over. The film would have been better if it it had just focused on one such plot, or had focused on one plot and other aspects of the empress' life.
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