Curse of the Golden Flower
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From the director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers comes the martial arts epic masterpiece whose savage beauty and exquisite elegance has mesmerized and captivated audiences around the world. Set in the lavish and breathtakingly colorful world hidden from the eyes of mere mortals behind the walls of the Forbidden City, a tale of a royal family divided against itself builds to a mythic climax as lines are crossed, trust is betrayed, and family blood is spilled in the quest for redemption and revenge. Starring Chow Yun Fat of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as the embattled Emperor and Gong Li of Memoirs of a Geisha as his poisoned Empress, Curse of the Golden Flower grants you entry into a dazzling and spectacular world of betrayal, vengeance and passion that will change the way you think of martial arts forever.
Curse of the Golden Flower, a fictionalized historical glimpse into the brutally complicated politics of Emperor Ping's (Chow Yun Fat) reign during the Tang Dynasty, shows the viewer just how far a megalomaniac must go to gain and retain power in medieval China. Lavish sets, massive ceremonial displays, and perversely fascinating battle scenes impress similarly to the special effects Americans have come to love and expect from Chinese action films like Zhang Yimou's previous House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. An intricate plot involving the Emperor's wife, Empress Phoenix (Gong Li) and their three sons, Crown Prince Xiang, Prince Jie, and Prince Cheng, most closely follows the Empress's secret plan to force abdication upon her corrupt husband as revenge for his slowly poisoning her with Black Fungus tea. Opening on the eve of the Chysanthemum Festival, 928 A.D., the Empress obsessively embroiders gold chysanthemums to adorn her army's uniforms while hatching plans with Jai to overthrow the Crown Prince for control of the throne. Meanwhile, a side plot develops as the Emperor's ex-wife and mother to Crown Prince Yu reemerges as Yu's lover. By the time the Festival occurs, family members are pitted against each other in a King Lear-ian web of lies that can only result in demise. The most sophisticated narrative aspect of Curse of the Golden Flower is that as the royal family crumbles, the Emperor's death grip on China remains unwavering. Gorgeous scenes set in the palace and costume design displaying China's upper class decadence cannot fail to entertain. The paradox between good and evil, here, is highlighted by how the Emperor successfully rules despite, and because of, his utter cruelty. --Trinie Dalton
- Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medR R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 7.75 x 5.75 x 0.5 inches; 4 Ounces
- Director : Yimou Zhang
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 54 minutes
- Release date : March 27, 2007
- Actors : Chow Yun-Fat, Li Gong, Jay Chou
- Dubbed: : English
- Subtitles: : English, French
- Producers : Bill Kong, Weiping Zhang
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B000MRA592
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,536 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This is one of those films that needs to be seen to be understood. If you have the patience for subtitles, there is no other film like this.
Yes, the theme of the story is one told over and over. Actually there are several good lessons to be learned by younger people who watch this. Biggest lesson is: "Secrets hidden from those you love will always come out one day. Be prepared."
The actors and director are trying to show us a long ago dynasty that was full of pomp and dignity that all shown on the outside, represented by all the gold and fine clothing. Inside the palace, it was different. There were secrets, lies and betrayals from everyone on the family.
We get to watch as the Emporor "cleans up" his house both physically and psycologically. You can predict the ending, but to watch this evil unfold among some of the most beautiful scenery is breathtaking.
There is a royal family portrayed here in a very dim light, and I wonder if they were made to look extra unappealing because of Communist influence. The freaky deaky part for me was the fact that everyone in the movie proceeded fairly logically toward the conclusion, given the circumstances as they already were presented (the first major presented issue being that Gong Li the emperor's wife is having an affair with her stepson). But then, at the very end of the movie, everybody suddenly behaved like a mindless lunatic, begging the question of why they were so logical up to then, or conversely, what made them all suddenly turn into mindless lunatics?
So begins "Curse of the Golden Flower" a Chinese morality story directed by Zhang Yimou, and it's a visual knockout: our eyes are almost assaulted by the lush interiors and the exterior action scenes. The emperor's palace looks like an explosion in a Day-Glo factory; a non-stop riot of color everywhere you look. The imperial family is covered in so much gold from nose to toes that you wonder how they can stand up straight, let alone move about. Everything about the palace is regimented down to the last detail and we understand it's all to underline the power of the emperor. When he sneezes, the earth shakes.
The actors put in creditable performances. Chow Yun Fat (I wish Amazon would respect the Chinese rule of putting the surname first and stop calling him Yun Fat Chow) gives a chilling portrayal of the emperor, venal and evil, cruel and insensitive; watching him calmly chowing down at the Chrysanthemum Festival after his world has fallen down around his ears is mind-blowing. The beautiful Gong Li wins our sympathy as the empress, determined to go out with a bang rather than a whimper, even if it means taking everyone else down with her. Of the three sons, Liu Ye gives the most impressive performance as the weak Crown Prince Wan, seduced by his stepmother, unable to extricate himself from her machinations, and terrified of his sire; he arouses in us a mixture of pity and contempt. Qin Junjie is somewhat perplexing as the third son, Yu, who turns out to have had his own agenda all along and totally upsets the apple cart. The minor characters are interesting and well played, notably Li Man as the imperial doctor's daughter Chan, exquisitely beautiful with a face like a cameo. But the most intriguing character in this film is the emperor's cast-off first wife, the crown prince's birth mother, who reappears in the lives of the imperial family in a singularly incovenient fashion; Chen Jin's performance in this difficult role is excellent.
What keeps "Curse of the Golden Flower" from being a great movie, as opposed to a merely good movie, is there's so much of everything, it's all so overblown, that it's more melodrama than true drama. We watch it, we're blown away by it, but we don't really feel it. One gets the sense that Zhang Yimou was piling special effect on special effect and the result is a kind of sensory overload. We're watching an opulent movie and the effects are so over the top that they almost overwhelm the story.
"Curse of the Golden Flower" is meant to be a morality play, but it seems that the person most in need of enlightenment, the emperor himself, has learned exactly nothing. He knows only one way to be emperor, and he's succeeded both because of his cruelty and in spite of it. After all the blood is shed, the bodies are carted off, the blood is washed away, new carpets and chrysanthemums laid down, and everything will continue as usual. It's as if everything that went before was an inconvenient glitch in the proceedings, and it leaves us feeling curiously empty after the final credits.
(And to the producers: next time you film a historical movie, check your history book first. Although this movie is set in 928 and the emperor is identified as the "Tang emperor", the Tang dynasty actually ended in 907.)
Top reviews from other countries
Extremely watchable and haunting.
Fearless is historical martial arts biopic starring awesome Jet Li. This film tells the story of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia (1869-1910). Huo Yuanjia was the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. This film has some really good fight choreography, beautiful sets, costumes and cinematography. This film has no extras what so ever. Not even a trailer. It's the theatrical cut not the directors cut.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the best film on the set. It's an amazing martial arts film and beautiful love story all together. It's nearly flawless. The acting is superb, cinematography is beautiful, fight choreography is amazing and it stars Chow Yun Fat. It was nominated for 10 Academy awards (won 4)... Well there's also some extras too. There's making of featurette, commentary track by director Ang Lee and interview with Michelle Yeoh.
All 3 films come in good video/audio quality. All 3 films come in original Chinese with english subtitles. Overall it's well worth your money.
Unfortunately for me though it was too much style over substance. The story was too turgid and melodramatic and it was a relief when all the action set pieces arrived. It was pretty inevitable that few of the main characters would survive the carnage, and I would have been happy for all of them to get it (this imperial family was difficult to love!).
Gong Li was wonderful as usual, even if she did spend most of her time in tears, and I'd rather watch Chow Yun Fat in his pomp in John Woo's movies. I doubt I'll be watching this often, not when I can watch Flying Daggers, Fearless, Hero and Ip Man instead.
But oooh! those colours....amazing! Definitely five stars for the visuals.
From the opening shots of the decadent, opulent Emperors Palace to the finale, each scene is a masterpiece of colour, composition, attention to detail and sheer acting brilliance.
As has been said by another reviewer, this is not a martial arts film per se, so you can forget Loadeds' blurb that it is "filled with kick ass action";it isn't. Perhaps their reviewer saw a different film. It is a film of Shakesperean plotting, on a par with King Lear, Hamlet or Othello, but full of characters that one can relate to. The old themes of absolute power corrupting and jealousies will out, are handled in a sensitive and masterful manner.
Rarely have I enjoyed a film so much.