Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
A great adaptation of Hamlet
Gadgester | Mother Earth | 12/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw Akira Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" a decade ago, I was shocked by the screen imagery painted by that legendary director. At first I didn't like it, but after two viewings, I came to love it. Same with "The Banquet." At first it seems strange, with production and character designs quite unfamiliar to this connoiseur of Asian cinema, but it soon grew on me. This is Hamlet-inspired, no doubt, which is a good thing as the story is not going to confuse most Westerners. The set design is quite powerful, as is the cinematography, but it's really the characters that deliver the power of the film. I always like Ziyi and she does a fine job as the queen here. I think this is one of those experimental films that you either love or hate. I like it a lot, and think it's a worthy movie to watch for anyone into real movies (i.e., not the Hollywood trash we're bombarded with each year)."
Ping Lim | Christchurch | 12/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie succeeds where "The Promise" failed. It's headed by who's who of China's movie industry and the production value of "the Banquet" is truly exemplary. It's unfortunate that the fundamental of the movie is divulged by reviewers, of it based on Hamlet. Personally, it would have been better seeing this movie not knowing what to expect and as the end credit roles, & as we put the pieces together, that's where we get maximum value out of this movie. For those that are looking for no-nonsense martial arts movie (normally starred by someone as Jet Li), "The Banquet" is no "Fearless". This movie is verging towards arty farty movie with extensive choreography upon the fighting moves which resemble more like a dance, dance of doomed lovers. Abstract would be a word to describe the fighting sequence. Other than that, "The Banquet" is a character-driven movie which focuses upon lust, betrayal, loyalty, family, power, greed, love, innocence's lost. I have to say that Chinese movie is gradually finding its own feet in the Western market & no longer it stereotypes itself churning out picture perfect movies or martial art movies glorified by Quentin Tarantino in "Kill Bill 1& 2" but rather, quality movies that make you think & unashamedly captivate your attention. There's nothing wrong for the Chinese to copy Shakespeare's story. In fact, hasn't Hollywood modernises Shakespeare's stories themselves to make them relevant to younger generations? Hasn't the Koreans done well by making its own take of the "Dangerous Liasons", which Hollywood made almost twenty years ago, which it copied from the French anyway? At the end of the day, that's what art is all about. As Picasso said himself, great artists steal ideas whilst amateur artists reproduce originals! Highly recommended."
A very fulfilling cinematic experience!
Kwisatz Haderack | 12/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was a wonderful display by a director at the height of his powers. The nuanced performances, beautiful yet realistic sets, intriguing and thoughtful cinematography, and a powerful control over the pacing and the rhythm of the film were simply unforgettable. I felt like watching the film again right after it finished. At many times it reminded me of Kurosawa's "Ran" (another Shakespeare adaptation), especially by the chamber drama aspects present in "The Banquet". It will not be everyone's cup of tea, to be sure, especially those who expect to see a martial arts film, which this is not; or those who expect a literal adaptation (or those possesed by semantics...)...but if you can enjoy a slower-paced film that takes its time building intricately nuanced characters and deep psychological studies, then this is the film for you. Very highly recommended."
Zhang Ziyi Is Beautiful Gertrude in the Loose Adaptation of
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 08/06/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Though "Banquet" (2006) is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's famous drama "Hamlet," this Chinese film should be seen as another entry in "wuxia" genre, Chinese martial arts action films such as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Actually some of the crew of Oscar-winning Ang Lee film came back - Tim (Timmy) Yip as art director, Tan Dun providing original music again, Woo-ping Yuen as action choreographer and of course, the film's star Zhang Ziyi.
The story is set in the war-torn era of China after the collapse of Tang Dynasty. After the strange death of the Emperor, his younger brother Li (You Ge) succeeds the throne and he plans to assassinate the son of late Emperor, Prince Wu Luan (Daniel Wu). To protect the life of Prince now living like a hermit, devoting himself to dancing (to whom, it is suggested, she was once romantically attracted), beautiful Empress Wan (Zhang Ziyi) consents to marry Li. But there is more to come after her decision, which culminates in the "banquet" of the title.
Zhang Ziyi plays Empress Wan, equivalent to Gertrude of Shakespeare's original drama, but unlike the original play, she is not the hero's mother. Though the film is inspired by "Hamlet," I am not sure this should be called adaptation because the role of Prince Wu Luan (= Hamlet) is considerably reduced while Empress Wan plays a major role in the meandering storyline which looks sometimes unfocused. Changes are welcome as long as the original's interesting storyline is kept intact. Here, despite some intriguing premises, it became weak and confusing.
There are martial arts fighting scenes choreographed by Woo-ping Yuen, but not many. The opening sequence is visually striking, but the fighting didn't impress me because, well, I don't see the point of killing innocent dancers in this violent and bloody way (one decapitation included). I don't think people act or fight like this even in the wuxia world. Another fight sequence is slightly better, but I believe Woo-ping Yuen did a finer job in "Fearless."
Many people would watch this film because of Zhang Ziyi, who is fantastic as always, but more impressive is Xun Zhou as Qing Nu (or Ophelia) whose strong performance as unrequited lover almost steals the show from Zhang Ziyi. That is a great feat in itself.
"Banquet" is a welcome addition to wuxia films, but if you ask me whether or not this is a great one, my answer would be, sorry, not exactly."