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The Emperor and the Assassin (1999)

Haifeng Ding , Li Gong , Kaige Chen  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

Price: $39.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Haifeng Ding, Li Gong, Yongfei Gu, Xuejian Li, Xiaohe Lu
  • Directors: Kaige Chen
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 13, 2000
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004STDA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,917 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Emperor and the Assassin" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Bonus Trailers: The Story of Qui Ju, The Last Emperor and The King of Masks

Editorial Reviews

From the acclaimed director of Farewell, My Concubine comes THE EMPEROR AND THE ASSASSIN a visuallystunning epic, exploring the devastating price one country pays for peace and one man pays for power. Ying Zheng, the King of Qin, has one driving ambition: to unify China's seven kingdoms into one magnificent empire. Impressed by her lover's convictions, Lady Zhao (Gong Li) helps Ying Zheng concoct an assassination plot that would justify the conquest of Qin's most powerful enemy. When Ying Zheng's peaceful mission explodes into a brutal holocaust, a disillusioned Lady Zhao is forced to question her loyalty and her lover's destiny.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Comes Alive! June 20, 2000
Watching the Emperor and the Assassin is like watching history come alive. Before going into anything else about this picture, just the site of the costumes and watching the Emperors soldiers, living breathing moving terra cotta warriors is simply awesome. The history of ancient China leaps at you in this film. The pictures of Xian's Terra Cotta Warriors are famous, but to see them alive in this film is just unbelievable.
Kaige Chen is one of the world's greatest directors. His previous film, Temptress Moon, was an interesting look at the decadence of the warlord and KMT period in Chinese history, but its his epic Farewell My Concubine that made him famous. If you are not familiar with Farewell My Concubine, its the history of China from the Fall of the Dynasty system through the end of the Cultural Revolution as seen through the eyes of two Peking Opera stars. If you like Chinese history, you must see Farewell My Concubine.
The Emperor and the Assassin is a fantastic look at how the first Emperor of China came to power and unified the various parts of China under one ruler and Dynastic system.
Also, if anyone is not familiar with the awesome Chinese actress Gong-li, this film is a great introduction.
Often Chinese cinema and Hong Kong action cinema get lumped together. This is unfortunate because they are worlds apart. The films of Yimou, Kaige Chen, and Gong-li are very different from those of Jackie Chan. Both are great, but very different.
Watch this awesome historical epic and then I recommend Farewell My Concubine, Raise the Red Latern, Red Sorghum, and the most powerful of all Chinese films of late: To Live
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An historical Chinese story of epic proportions November 10, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Based on the actual event , this epic is set in the year 221 B.C and tells the 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 scheme 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 questions dealing with life and death and good and evil and all the blurred edges in between.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings back memories of Kurosawa and Lean April 29, 2000
The Emperor and the Assassin is a sweeping epic from the director of "Farewell My Concubine" and "Temptress Moon." This film is undeniably one of the best 5 of the year and is strongly reminiscent of a Kurosawa or Lean film, whether in terms of lush photography or deep character studies. Though not ranking at the films of those directors, this film stands on its own as one of the best epics I've seen in a long time. The story follows a ruthless, cold-blooded emperor who will do anything to reach up to the highest level of rulership, a reformed and moral assassin, and the emperor's wife, who bring those two forces together. Though running at a length of 161 minutes, this film cruises by very fast, with realistic battle scenes, almost exactly like Ran and long, sprawling, unforgettable shots like Lawrence of Arabia. There are extremely good performances all around, and a complexed, but fully revealing storyline, which makes this a fascinating, highly ambitous masterpiece.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable! June 28, 2002
"The Emperor and the Assassin" is drama at its finest. Set against the backdrop of ancient China during the end of the Seven Kingdoms, it is not so much the story of how they were unified as it is about the trials and relationships of the Qin king. Extremely long, clocking in at just over 2 hours and 40 minutes, the impatient will shift their seating more than a few times, but the experience is entirely worth it. The crew entirely rebuilt the Qin palace, along with several other cities, from scratch. The sets and costumes are gorgeous. It really does appear to be ancient China. But this is not a film that only Asians will understand, it has a universal message and story that anyone could grasp. The acting is well on par with the best of the western world, and the story is absolutely heartbreaking. This is not a Hollywood movie by any stretch. This film actually takes time to develop every character intricately, and the portrayals of them really make you feel what they are feeling. There is no happy ending, but you will not feel cheated when the credits roll.
As with any foreign film, especially Asian films, the dialogue will be best understood by those who can understand Chinese, but for the most part the subtitles are very good. English speakers(or readers, in this case) will not miss much in the words spoken, but the true emotion can really only be felt by speakers of the language. Chinese is simple in syntax, but extremely complex in its subtleties that just cannot be translated into subtitles. But I am happy they chose not to dub it as that would likely destroy the brilliant performances of the very accomplished actors involved.
Anyway, in any language this is one of the greatest films EVER made, and if you like quality movies at all this film could not possibly disappoint.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great action/romance film about China circa 226-221 BC
This is an excellent film. It takes a few liberties with history but for the most part manages to accurately portray China as a country at constant civil war just prior to its... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Charles B. Lemak
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Emperor and the Assassin" Will Not Disappoint Your Senses, Your...
"The Emperor and the Assassin" is a fascinating story that really happened in China before the King of Qin went about the hard work of uniting the existing seven states... Read more
Published 11 months ago by B. Bratton
5.0 out of 5 stars big fan of Gong Li
loved the costumes and set decoration. fan of Gong Li and FengYi Zhang. appreciate Chinese period movies. viewed many times and one of all time favorite films.
Published 13 months ago by Linda
5.0 out of 5 stars Regal-Majestic and Disturbing Film
This movie is dripping with artistic, regal talent. It has a disturbing theme which is well-treated and well-acted. Read more
Published 17 months ago by TwilightMountainTrader
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie
Very well made Far Eastern film. Nice set up for story. Very good acting. If you like adventure, you should like this film.
Published 21 months ago by Sooner Man
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
Another action packed engrossing chinese movie. this one is one of the better ones of all the Chinese movies I have seen. It is a must recommend.
Published 21 months ago by brian d. bouvier
5.0 out of 5 stars "When the map is unrolled, the dagger is revealed"
This old Chinese wisdom, which can be understood in many different ways, all very instructive, was inspired by THE most famous assassination attempt in history of China, which... Read more
Published on March 9, 2012 by Darth Maciek
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Very cool movie from a Chinese perspective. The costumes and set puts any history lover right into the thick of ancient China. Read more
Published on January 24, 2012 by Socrates' dumb friend
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Chinese history movie
This movie is about the Emperor whose tomb was recently unearthed in China where he was buried with his terra cotta army of soldiers and horses. Very well filmed. Read more
Published on April 8, 2010 by L. S. Pray
3.0 out of 5 stars More functional than completely inspired
Chen Kaige's The Emperor and the Assassin was one of the more expected Chinese flops of the 90s, coming so soon after the previous telling of the same tale, The Emperor's Shadow... Read more
Published on August 24, 2008 by Trevor Willsmer
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