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The Last Emperor (1987)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  15 April 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 65,130 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 131 user | 74 critic | 15 from

The story of the final Emperor of China.


(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Won 9 Oscars. Another 45 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ruocheng Ying ...
The Governor (as Ying Ruocheng)
Dennis Dun ...
Maggie Han ...
Wen Hsiu (as Wu Jun Mei)
Chang (as Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa)
Jade Go ...
Fumihiko Ikeda ...
Richard Vuu ...
Tsou Tijger ...
Pu Yi - 8 Years (as Tijger Tsou)


A dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City, the object of worship by half a billion people; through his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People's Republic. Written by Martin H. Booda <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He was the Lord of Ten Thousand Years, the absolute monarch of China. He was born to rule a world of ancient tradition. Nothing prepared him for our world of change.


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

15 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El último emperador  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$21,105 (USA) (27 November 1998)


$43,984,230 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (television)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The China Film Co-Production Corporation provided their studios and unlimited extras in exchange for domestic distribution rights. See more »


Mr. Johnston enters the Emperor's service during the 4 May 1919 student movement. Thus, Pu Yi is 13 years of age, not 15. See more »


The Governor: [setting a recurring theme of imprisonment throughout the film] Open the door! Open the door! Open the door!... Open the door!
See more »


Referenced in Serial Mom (1994) See more »


China Boy
(1922) (uncredited)
Music by Richard A Winfree
Words by Phil Boutelje
played by the jazz band after Pu Yi finishes singing "Am I Blue"
See more »

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User Reviews

An Oriental paradise that is wonderfully mastered to the screen.
21 March 1999 | by (Suffolk, Virginia) – See all my reviews

I guess I'm the only one who watched this from a worn out-of-print VHS copy. No matter what the quality, THE LAST EMPEROR is arguably among the best of the foreign pictures. The sights and sounds of The Forbidden City are sharp and beautifully screened right on with the provocative events that unfold the coming-of-age life of Pu Yi. It has plentiful moments including his romantic affairs with concubines and how he learns the way of the world as a child. His chronicle of a young emperor boy paints a colorful picture for the first half, only leading to more conflicting matters later, which is the most exciting part. Don't expect to see heads getting chopped off, like I thought would happen (unless you have the longer DVD version), but the intensity of the talk surrounding it sounds horrifying and true. Nevertheless, the dialogue is clearly mystical. Every minute is a feel-good breeze through crafty cinematic art, but it ends too fast, and the narration from Pu Yi in his prison term could use a lot more detailing. Maybe I'll stick around longer and wait to see the Director's Cut which has more. Definitely a winning treat not to be missed for foreign movie lovers and collectors of premium filmfare.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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