Stunning,exquisite and sumptous epic.
Gengie | Malaysia | 06/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was surprised at how little information there is about this movie.This stunning piece of work is definitely worth more international regconition. The Emperor of Qin (Ching Shi Huang Ti) is a very popular figure here in Asia and everyone knows him thru history classes and here, is one of my favourite movie on the depiction of Emperor Qin.(221-207 BC.)I had always admire Jiang Wen , and his cute,playful,fiercesome and brutal protrayal of the emperor is wonderful. Ge You is also great and comical at times. Ge You have won the International film festival best actor award twice.One for "To Live" the other for "Keep Cool". Both movies by Zhang Yimou.The movies includes epic warfare, love, betrayal, friendship, stubborness, punishment, executions, tortures and power. Anything you should expect from and ancient epic, is all here.The relationship of the two men in this movie is complicated, fascinating and touching. Full of emotions and feelings.The entire movie from the beginning to the end are filled with gorgeous image and unbelivable scenarios. The opening sequence left me absolutely Speechless. The middle sequences left me in awe and terror and the final sequences left me in tears. The Emperor's Shadow is a tremendous hit here in Asia.There have been some US critics who down grade this film (not here, but other sites in the net). From what I've read, some doesnt understand the culture and the history and some are basically political minded. See the movie for yourself and you decide.Trust me. We, here in Asia knows best. We came from our ancient ancestors of The Xia dynasty - ca.2000-1800 BC thru Qin,Han,Xin,Genghiz Khan to Kublai Khan who formed the Yuan Dynasty, and built the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) and again thru Ming and finally Qing Dynasty (Empress Dowager Tsu Tzi /Aishin Goro Pu yi of Manchuria) to reach where we are in this modern world today 2001.The Emperor's Shadow is visually sumptuous, with great cinematography and engaging history. Even if you are not a history fan. The movie can be enjoy via its visuals,ceremonies and scenery.As an Asian, this gorgeous movie and various other movies based on ancient dynasties have given me a excellent cinematographic lessons about the lives of my ancient ancestors in the ancient past.Beautiful and hauntingGenghiz"
mafreund | 07/04/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film was overall decent and worth seeing if you've got limited access to Chinese historical films.There were a lot of things in the movie that just plain did not make sense (and these things had nothing to do with translation). A lot of things just are not explained whatsoever. The movie starts out with Gao Jianli's mother breastfeeding both Gao Jianli and Ying Zheng. No information whatsoever as to how on earth Ying Zheng got from his probable birthplace in modern-day Shaanxi province all the way to the kingdom of Yan, a few hundred miles away, in the present-day areas of Hebei and Liaoning provinces, Beijing and Tianjin. The movie goes forward about 12 years to Gao Jianli just hanging around a prison courtyard playing the guqin.........I know it was a period of war and conquests but what on EARTH is this kid doing hanging around a jailyard?! And then a whole bunch of people are brought in and proclaimed as Qin captives to be executed. Among them (what a coincidence!), and positioned for execution right next to Gao Jianli (what a coincidence again!) playin' Jailyard Guqin, is Ying Zheng! Now hang on a second.....two minutes ago it looked as if Ying Zheng had been raised and maybe born in Yan, but here he is being hauled in with these other people from hundreds of miles away.There are countless other things in the movie that are along the same lines - bizarre happenings that are totally unexplained and you can't necessarily figure out, even if you have (like myself) a good knowledge of Chinese history. While the guqin music in the movie is nice (although a little redundant), the scored music in this movie is horrendous. Zhao Jiping usually is very tasteful with his usage of music in film, but this is an exception for sure. The authenticity of the setting, both in time and location, is ruined by the scored music, which consists of totally Western-style melodramatic orchestra+chorus for the most part. I love how when the army sings the Qin anthem (totally Western sounding) they're all Western operatic baritones!!!!!!! GIVE ME A BREAK! I know it's supposed to be this grandiose epic movie, but at least try to be real. This is the sort of stuff that you'd see in an old American movie from the 40's and 50's like Spartacus or The Ten Commandments where a group of supposedly average people open their mouths to sing a song and out comes Joan Sutherland and Kurt Moll. One reviewer said (in other words) that the orchestration helps in enhancing the magnitude and large scale of events going on. You can use Chinese music in the exact same way. What was Zhao thinking? Totally cheesy, unrealistic, and melodramatic as hell. I do have to point out that they got authenticity in the areas of costume and props, but the music is just horrible. Also, I speak Mandarin, and some of the translations are reallllllly bad. And speaking of Mandarin, I think that a little clarification on correct spelling with Pinyin (romanized Chinese) is in order for some of the previous reviewers. The guy's name was Ying Zheng. Ching is an outdated or Taiwanese way of spelling either Jing or Qing in Mandarin (qing if you forgot the apostrophe between the ch and the i). The kingdom in which Ying Zheng was king and where he later proclaimed himself the first emperor is called Qin. Note, it is not called QinG (or Ching/Ch'ing for our apparently Taiwanese reviewers) The first emperor of Qin is correctly written: Qin Shi Huangdi. Sorry, but I just can't handle these butcherings of Chinese spellings. A good movie if you want to learn a little about Chinese history, as it portrays Ying Zheng as who he most likely really was: a ruthless emperor who was willing to stop at nothing and kill thousands upon thousands in order to unite the Warring States."
Jack Yuan | Sydney | 06/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When this movie was made in '96, it was the most expensive ever attempted in China, and it certainly shows on screen. With a cast of thousands, a powerful score and sweeping scenery, the effect is truly breathtaking.It is essentially an allegorical tale about the power of the state and its relationship with intellectuals and artists. Much of the drama and characterisations are highly symbolic, with Jiang Wen and Ge You acting opposite each other as polar forces. As such the characters of Ying Zheng and Gao Jianli are highly idealised and not very convincing. Zhou Xiaowen has also made a point of departing quite far from history to create this film."
mafreund | 02/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know why this movie got bad reviews because I think it was wonderful. I just love that Bow Wow song and aside from the absolute guresome scenes of beheading done with ease like taking a coffe break the movie was awesome. I thought the characters were well developed and the river scene was great. That song just stayed in my head for days. I love movies about China but always have a box of tissue handy since they always have a tear jerker scene or two."