Curse of the Golden Flower

Directed by Zhang Yimou
Stars Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Qin Junjie, Li Man, Liu Ye, Chou Jay
R - violence
In Mandarin with English subtitles

Advertised as yet another wuxia martial arts fantasy by Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), Curse of the Golden Flower is really just a soap opera with gorgeous sets and costumes. It tells the story of the Emperor and Empress of China, who really hate each other and want the other one dead, enough to command armies against one another.

Darker than Zhang's previous wuxia films, filled with intrigue and emotional layers, but ultimately unsatisfying as it descends into soap opera territory near the end. And while the sets and costumes are stunning, they are so impressive that they completely overwhelm the film, swallowing it up in a colorful swirl of gold plates and silk brocade.

Not a bad film, but indeed a disappointing one.

GRADE - **½ (out of four)


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