Not far from Shanghai, in a country twon stands the palatial home of the Pang family. Old Master Pang is an addict who brings up his beautiful daughter Ruyi on opium smoke. Her older ... See full summary »
Zhou Yu, a ceramic decorative artist, travels twice a week from her home town of San Ming to Chongyang to visit her boyfriend, Chen Qing, a government worker and budding poet. The two met ... See full summary »
Gong Li stars in this low-key drama about a single mother who will do anything to provide for her son. Sun Liying (Li) struggles to care for her hearing-impaired child Zheng Da (Gao Xin) after her taxi driver husband divorces.
A pregnant peasant woman seeks redress from the Chinese bureaucracy after the village chief kicks her husband in the groin in this comedy of justice. As she is frustrated by each level of ... See full summary »
A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without ... See full summary »
In the 3rd Century BC, Ying Zheng, heir to the Kingdom of Qin, seeks to dominate the remaining six Chinese kingdoms. Ying's strategy is to seem invincible. Ying sends his concubine Zhao to the Han Kingdom as a spy, to enlist an assassin he can conquer. Zhao persuades Jing Ke, but falls in love. Written by
The task of reproducing the costumes for the production was undertaken by the renowned designer, Mo Xiaomin, whose work is synonymous with the term 'costume design as art'. Mo Xiaomin spent two and a half years visiting historical ruins, collecting vast amounts of information and reading over 100 specialized texts before officially accepting Chen Kaige's offer to create the costumes for the movie. During the early planning stages, there were continuous consultations with the director and thousands of preliminary sketches made before Mo decided on his final 400 designs. The film's costumes are the culmination of four years of continuous labor and the pinnacle of Mo Xiaomin's celebrated twenty year career as a designer. See more »
For a feature film, the plot closely follows history--or at least historical gossip. But then the Chinese, who know the story very well from seeing it portrayed again and again, would never tolerate it otherwise. The attention to detail is wonderful, especially for anyone who has read Sima Qian's account in the Records of the Historian. Jing Ke, according to Sima Qian, did indeed make an attempt on Qin Shi Huang's life at the request of the Crown Prince of Yan before unification. Sima Qian explicitly mentions both the head of General Fan and the dagger rolled up into the map, as well as the dagger being thrown into the brass column. Although Jing Ke is described as no stranger to swordplay, he's hardly the invincible warrior portrayed by Chen Kaige. Jing Ke is indeed this film's weakest link. In reality (again, according to Sima Qian), he was a heavy drinker and put off his visit to Qin for as long as possible, spending a good deal of time with the ladies of Yan before the crown prince finally ordered him on his way. He was, in short, a human being and was not looking forward to death although he was willing to accept it. Chen Kaige's Jing Ke is afraid of death, but not his own. He is the classic ruthless killer turned disillusioned pacifist. His love (or maybe just affection) for a woman and pity for several hundred children whom Zheng had buried alive (not even two thousand years of hostile Confucian historians claimed Qin Shi Huang did this, although there is a legend about him burying 460 Confucians up to their necks and then beheading them)is enough to make this former assassin kill again. The melodrama is not convincing and the character ends up being just plain boring. The acting here isn't shabby, though not very interesting given the character. As for Lady Zhou, in all the numerous stories I've heard about Qin Shi Huang, she's never come up. Anyway, Gong Li is famous enough for Americans to have heard of her (thanks to Zhang Yimou) and there needed to be a love interest, so here she is. It's unfortunate that her performance is almost as wooden as Jing Ke's character. She's done much better (in Qiu Ju for example) at being subtle; here she just barely manages presence. But all of this is trivial compared to the extraordinary acting of Li Xuejian as Zheng himself. Qin Shi Huang is for the Chinese rather what Milton's Satan is for us: accepted as a villain, but a noble one. Qin Shi Huang's accomplishments radiate an awe all the way across two thousand years into the present and Li captures his frightening will without compromising his humanity. Li's performance is enough, but the scope of the film is grand although the photography is purposely drab. It does feel ancient. The score is adequate, scarcely moving though very appropriate to the action. Though I've only seen it once, I believe that Chen Kaige should be given more credit for his camera work than other reviewers have allowed him. The opening credits are exhilarating. If five stars its absolutely average, I given three more for Li Xuejian's acting and Chen Kaige as an actor, writer, and director.
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