Tian xia di yi (All the King's Men) is about the ailing emperor of China and his ministers' efforts to cure him of his illness. The only doctor who can cure the illness lives in the neighbouring kingdom, so smuggling out takes some effort. The official who allows him to leave wants a painting by a famous painter, so that must be procured as well. The painter won't paint until he sees a certain princess, but she is in mourning and won't leave the house. To make her leave the house, a famous thief must be enlisted ...
In short, it's a convoluted story with layers upon layers and lots of elements, among them pro- and anti-Taoist factions, trying to keep up appearances for visiting diplomats from another neighbouring country to keep the peace, etc. etc. etc.
What this movie is not: a kung fu movie. If you're in the mood for action, this isn't the movie for you. But if you like court intrigues, this film is well worth watching and it's a fun exercise to try and keep all those factors and layers in mind. And if you find the thief's daughter strangely familiar - it's Pei-pei Cheng, who played Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
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