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First of, since 'The City of Life and Death' and 'Kekexili' I have become a fan of mainland China director Lu Chuan. I did not know about this film but somehow, through indirect references, I found out about it and decided to purchase a DVD to see it.
And a good thing I have a DVD, for I needed to watch it more than once to truly grasp the gist of the film. The story line is based on a piece of history in the period of around 200 BC, toward the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is a story of allies turned mortal enemies, trust, mistrust, and the deadly outcome when a woman, here a queen, got involved in the King's decisions.
There are no epic battles and brutal action here, although there are a couple of scenes of torture and execution. The plot and pace are both slow. So I can see why many people will not like it. But if you have the patience, this is a visually impressive film that told a complex story. DVD is the best medium as you can pause, backtrack or watch it for a 2nd or 3rd time to fully understand the plot.
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