7.2/10
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The Emperor and the Assassin (1998)

Jing Ke ci Qin Wang (original title)
Trailer
1:26 | Trailer
In pre-unified China, the King of Qin sends his concubine to a rival kingdom to produce an assassin for a political plot, but as the king's cruelty mounts she finds her loyalty faltering.

Director:

Kaige Chen
7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Li Gong ... Lady Zhao
Fengyi Zhang ... Jing Ke
Zhou Sun ... Dan, Prince of Yan
Xiaohe Lü Xiaohe Lü ... General Fan Yuqi
Zhiwen Wang ... Marquis Changxin
Kaige Chen ... Lu Buwei
Yongfei Gu Yongfei Gu ... Queen Mother
Benshan Zhao ... Gao Jianli
Haifeng Ding Haifeng Ding ... Qin Wuyang
Changjiang Pan ... Prison Official
Xun Zhou ... Blind Girl
Xuejian Li ... Ying Zheng
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Xu Chu Xu Chu ... 10 State warrior
Dong Han Dong Han ... Qin cart driver
Bing Lin Bing Lin ... 10 State warrior
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Storyline

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 <ssrich@cityu.edu.hk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

China | Japan | France

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

14 November 1998 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Emperor and the Assassin See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$47,295, 19 December 1999

Gross USA:

$1,267,239

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,267,239
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | DTS-Stereo | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Xianyang palace was reconstructed in its entirety in the city of Dongyang in Zhenjiang province. Much of the film, including the final scene, was shot there. It is now being preserved as a theme park drawing large numbers of tourists. In addition, the capital cities of the other kingdoms featured in the film, Yan Zhao and Han, were constructed as several sights across China. All have been meticulously built to scale with special attention paid to their historical accuracy. See more »

Alternate Versions

On the Chinese (region 6) DVD edition (anamorphic with 5.1) Zhou-sun's scene, the blind girl pleading for death after the assassin had killed her whole family, is completely replaced by the assassin's verbal depiction of the incident. The end credits, however, did include Zhou-sun. See more »

Connections

References Throne of Blood (1957) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Certainly not disappointing
1 January 2005 | by trocky88See all my reviews

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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