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 breat... more »htakingly 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.« less
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 02/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As depraved and corrupt as the House of Thebes, as morally bankrupt as the Hubbard/Giddens family in Lillian Hellman's "Little Foxes" or George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," (all of which this film calls to mind) Zhang Yimou's "The Curse of the Golden Flower," though huge in scale is at it's core an intimate family (albeit a majorly dysfunctional family) drama which unfolds during the Later Tang Dynasty (923-936 AD), a time of corruption, dictatorship and warfare--with a mind-blowing, color-soaked brilliance and an almost insane excess that does over-ripe justice to the passions and intrigues that are raging full throttle inside the palace. The sinister ensemble cast includes an evil emperor (Chow Yun Fat), his desperate wife (Gong Li), his three wildly contrasting sons and heirs (Liu Ye, Jay Chou and Qin Junjie), the troubled imperial doctor (Ni Dahong) and the doctor's bitter wife (Chen Jin) and naive daughter (Li Man), both of whom have secrets that could destroy an empire. Though all of the performances are first rate, Gong Li as the pathetic consort to the Emperor and Jay Chou as Prince Jai show us the pain and heartbreak behind all the bravura acting: these are brave performances that not only come from the mind but also from heart and the soul of these performers; a particularly difficult task based on all the grandeur and pomposity surrounding them. "The Curse of the Golden Flower" is eye-poppingly gorgeous to look at yet Zhang Yimou nonetheless has managed to, in the midst of the thousands of extras, millions of flowers and opulent and decadent costumes, produced a very thoughtful and tragic drama about a family that can't resist its basest impulses and in the process demolishes and destroys itself from within: love exists here but its a love twisted upon itself and dessicated by the bile and vomitus of distrust and depravity. "
"A SQUARE WITHIN A CIRCLE, GOLD AND JADE ON THE OUTSIDE, ROT
Roy Clark | Edge of Toiyabe Nat'l Forest, NV | 03/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I note that an earlier reviewer saw the 'making-of' featurette. and it's a good intro into peeling away the layers of this quasi-Shakespearean melodrama. There's something dramatists like, the theme of the darkness beneath the beauty.
Slow starting, Director Zhang moves faster and faster telling the tale of unfolding faces (in an asian sense) and the complexities of relationships, veering every so-often in to soap-operatics. Yet with extravagant graphics/ production qualities and a nice pattern of on-and-off action with teary or sneer-y confrontations and trysts, even the maybe too-dramatic elements work well.
One measure might be that in re-seeing, the layers get more intense and understandable, adding weight to the conflicts; a plus for buyers versus renters.
Now, if only a quality version of RAISE THE RED LANTERN would be released, Zhang Yimou's stature as a world-class director would be rightly, finally, established. With his successes this millennium, it might just happen for the man... "
An Over-the-Top and Insane Family Soap Opera: Some May Clai
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 11/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recalling the critical reviews of "Curse of the Golden Flower" upon its release, I seem to remember a pretty split decision. There were those that proclaimed the film a tawdry and violent melodrama while others declared it a beautiful epic. Well, in all fairness, it is a beautiful, yet tawdry, excessively violent melodramatic epic. And I mean that in all the best ways! Chinese director Zhang Yimou has put together an eye-popping spectacle of sets, costumes, and effects--complete with his customary flair for dreamlike action sequences and an astonishing color palette.
Telling a soapy tale of dysfunction within Emperor Ping's clan circa The Tang Dynasty (928 A.D.), "Curse" has all the lurid ingredients of a modern-day potboiler. There are illicit affairs, murderous schemes, generational secrets, and gruesome acts of violence. Similar to the setup of "The Lion in Winter," "Curse" brings the Ping family together and lets them attack each other with a refreshingly unhinged viciousness. But while "Lion's" carnage was largely verbal, no such claim can be made with this film. With elements of "King Lear" firmly in place, the pace of "Curse" accelerates so rapidly--you know the characters are headed for disaster.
Central to the remarkable cast is the gorgeous Gong Li as the Empress. As the catalyst of most of the film's action, Li is the film's most pivotal performer. The female center of this "Flower" (which includes Chow Yun Fat as her husband and their three sons/heirs), Li practically devours the role. Full of passion, rage, lust, and plenty of secrets--she has never been given a showier role and definitely rises to the occasion. The performances are so good, so alive, you want to stick with the tale to the bitter end. And no matter how outrageous this film can get (and the madcap finale certainly pushes conventional sensibilities), it is always grounded with the actors.
Forget Shakespeare's most violent tragedies, "Curse" sports a body count that even the Bard would surely envy. Not since the wickedly over-the-top killing spree during the finale of DiPalma's "Scarface" has a movie devolved into such an unabashed show of bloody lunacy. Ridiculous at every turn, the film succeeds by embracing its excesses. The final showdown left me marveling at the staged choreography and laughing at the inspired, yet insane, debauchery. I won't contend that "Curse" is an artistic masterwork that rivals Yimou's previous films "House of Flying Daggers" and "Hero"--but I will say that it is massive entertainment. A frantic, blood-soaked opera of lust and vengeance (with no apologies), I loved "Curse of the Golden Flower." KGHarris, 11/07."
Intricate and Gorgeous Shakespearean Chinese Dynasty film
B. Shaw | Portland, OR USA | 12/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Outstanding! Incredible cinematography, exceptionally ornate sets, very appropriate and well-done music, academy award-level acting, I keep trying to come up with more superlatives to use for the movie! I thoroughly enjoyed every nanosecond of it. It held my interest so well that I simply could not stop watching it, twice! The sets are exquisitely detailed and opulent, the martial arts used were excellent. It is subtitled, so if you are not accustomed to reading English while trying to pick up on the tonal inflections of the actors you may miss much in their performances...unless of course you speak Mandarin. The plot was Shakespearen in both it's quality and its intricacy. The whole movie centers, and stays focused, on the life of the Imperial family and an upcoming coup within it. One of the other reviews noted that the Imperial physician's wife was having an affair with the Crown Prince, but I think they mis-stated. It was her daughter, Chan, having the affair and the mom became insensed with anger when she found out, since she was mother to both...and they didn't know it. There is so much intrigue and a very complex plot, yet somehow so well-written that I did not find it hard to follow at all. This is an excellent example of the best of Chinese film-making, and I think an outstanding period piece as well."
"Emperor Ping returns to his palace just before the Chong Young Festival. The Empress Phoenix, his wife, is far from happy to see his return. Ping has ordered his imperial doctor to slowly poison the empress. And, in retaliation, the Empress conspires to overthrow her husband. As hatreds fester and secret passions come to light, no one will remain untouched by the Curse of the Golden Flower.
The Director Yimou Zhang follows up House of Flying Daggers and Hero with his most lavish epic yet. Curse of the Golden Flower is an extraordinary film. It is a big-budget extravaganza that is reminiscent of some of the Hollywood epics of the fifties and sixties. As with all Zhang's western exports, his use of colour is incredible. The palace of Emperor Ping is brought to the screen in a blaze of arresting colour. Every costume and set create a world of sumptuous majesty a world that you will be immediately drawn into.
Of course, like all Asian Cinema, this film has the usual martial arts set pieces throughout, but it does not seem to rely on them to keep the audience interested. Instead, the film uses a complex plot involving the power struggle between the two leads. Chow Yun Fat, as Ping, presents a character who is ruthless and dogmatic, and Gong Li's Empress Phoenix is vulnerable and defiant. Both stars' perfomances are beyond reproach, and all of these qualities come together to create a gloriously opulent saga.
The Curse of the Golden Flower is an epic filled with intrigue and breathtakingly-bloody battle scenes, all set against a backdrop of radiantly decadent colour. If you liked Flying Daggers and Hero, you will adore the Curse of the Golden Flower. "