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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
Tu Juhua created the blueprints and drawings for the reconstruction of the ancient cities of Qin, Yan, Zhao and Han. He also provided the plans for both the Xianyang palace and Handan castle. See more »
First cut was deemed regime-critic by chinese censors and therefore rejected. Approximately 30 minutes were cut to make a more regime-friendly version. See more »
Love, death and moral choices in a historical epic of China
Based on the actual event , this epic, is set in the year 221 B.C and tells the true story of the unification of China. Action packed and filled with intrigue, passion, betrayals and unforgettable battle sequences, it held my attention throughout in spite of its 160 minute length.
The king, Ying Zeng, played by Li Xuejian is obsessed with unifying the seven kingdoms of China and becoming its first Emperor. His lover, Lady Zhao, played by the beautiful actress Gong Li, devises a plot whereby she will travel to the neighboring kingdom of Yan to set a fake assassination plot in motion which will give the king an excuse to invade Yan. However, she falls in love with the assassin as the king becomes more and more ruthless.
There are subplots, and tragedy and constant high drama. There are scenes of great beauty and of abject cruelty. There is great cinematography and brilliant use of physical space.
The deep characterization made me think of Shakespeare. And tragic events that call to mind Greek drama. And yet it is totally Chinese as it deals with age-old questions of whether the ends justify the means. And raises the questions dealing with life and death and good and evil and all the blurred edges in between.
It is the story of individuals against the backdrop of history, a history that has shaped China for the past two thousand years. I was swept up in the story as well as the moral questions raised. There are no easy answers and this was one of the strengths of the movie.
Recommended. But be prepared for the violence and gore.
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