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Set during China's Three Kingdom's era (AD 220-280). The story of a great king and his people, who will be expelled from their homeland and will aspire to claim it. The king, violent and ambitious, of mysterious methods and motives; his general, a visionary who yearns to win the final battle but needs to prepare his plans in secret; the women of the palace, who struggle to find redemption in a world where they have no place; and a commoner called "Lord of all the world", will be the characters around who turn the inexorable forces of this story.Written by
The overly emphasized forms, color shades & aesthetics ruled
And making this film shallowed itself to just a skin-deep shell. Another typical "Style over Substance" example.
Director Zhang Yimou has paid too much attention to the colors, the settings and the screen aesthetics of this movie and at same time, similarly paid too much attention to make it more Shakespearean and Akira Kurosawa. He paid too much attention to the artistic manipulation on the settings, costumes, scenario twists. But if you looked back to what he did in "Hero/Ying xiong (2002)", the settings of the emperor's palace is almost identical, dark and suffocating, but the actor, Ryan Zheng, is too young, too light weight if compares him to Chen Dao-Ming's Emperor Chin in Hero. Zheng tried very hard but sometimes it just felt his king role was more like an obnoxious, light weighted, a spoiled young king inherited the kingdom from his father without merit, even lost a very important part of his territory to the neighboring enemy kingdom during his reign.
When the real Commander Jing played together with his wife, some overlooked arrangement was so obviously overdone, his long hairs blew by fan but the hairs of the wife sitting on the opposite were never moved a bit.
If you've also seen the documentary recording how Director Zhang Yimou insisted on the color shades of the film, the calligraphic screen settings in the palace, his constant emphasis on not making this film absolutely representing more in typical and traditional Chinese, but what he had tried so hard to avoid only making this movie still reflected the influence of Akira Kurosawa's style so inevitably. The screenplay also heavily borrowed and adapted from Shakespearean plays, a mixture of "King Lear", "Hamlet" and "Macbeth", and even with some ideas from Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis ", George Orwell's "1984" and Albert Camus' "The Stranger"; the "Big Brother" and "Eye in The Sky" are everywhere, watching your every scheme and move, the conspiracy and the planned double cross you thought that only you knew was but a wishful thinking.
Zhang Yimou has paid too much to the "FORM" of the movie, so over the top emphasized that inevitably made it more pretentious and artificial. His strenuous insists on perfection of each and every complicated setting, his tough decisions to redo or remake the settings definitely cost more unpredictable budget, I just wonder if such overblown budget extravaganzas would actually be earned back or make even from a full frontal world-wide release.
Besides the above-mentioned, this movie also has a fatal flaw as most of the Chinese movies related to the ancient time and era: THE MESSY DIALOG! If you are a foreigner watching a Chinese movie with the ancient historical background by the help of English subtitles, you might not be able to find the ridiculousness of the Chinese dialog in these movies, but to a Chinese who knows how the modern day Chinese different from the ancient Chinese, in speaking and writing, then you'd know how ridiculous the Chinese screenplay writers wrote their "Dialog"! It's such a laughable mixtures of modern day commonly spoken Chinese (Pu-Tong-Hua or Bai Hua) and the ancient writing words (Gu-Wen or Wen-Yen-Wen). The modern day Chinese screenplay writers never seem to know how to separate both for the old ancient movies. The dialogs in these movies when spoken by all the characters, sometimes are so modern and sometimes it only existed in old Chinese articles, not spoken by the people but in only writing. So the dialogs in Chinese movies with the ancient historical background, those actors would have to speak the modern day Mandarin Chinese and mixed with the words only the ancient Chinese would be used in writing. Such absurdity seems never to be able to solve but always overlooked. This movie's dialog is no exception, exactly like what Hsiao-Hsien Hou did in "The Assassin 2015", ancient characters sometimes were speaking those words that could only have existed in writing, and sometimes the dialogs suddenly would only have appeared in modern days, it's just ruined the whole movie and made it so funny and so painfully to watch.
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