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The Empress Dowager
The Empress Dowager
Actors: Gong Li, Lui Xiao Qing
Director: Li Han-hsiang
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Special Interests, Documentary
UR     2002     1hr 34min

Empress Dowager Cixi ruled over China for close to half a century. She had limitless greed and power over family and her subjects. Indeed she had a sharp political sense and decisive practices but under her rule the Qing D...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Gong Li, Lui Xiao Qing
Director: Li Han-hsiang
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Martial Arts, Indie & Art House, Art & Artists, Biography
Studio: World Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 09/17/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/1989
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1989
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Chinese, English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

This is Li Han Hsiang's 1989 version, not 1975 version as li
Mirror Image | Minneapolis, MN | 11/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This director made two movies of this title (in English translation). This is the 1989 "Xi tai hou" with actors Lui Xiao Qing, Gong Li (in a supporting role), Chen Dao Ming, and Li Yan. It has Mandarin and Cantonese soundtracks, with subtitles in English (though with lots of typos and literal translations).

I am not Chinese, only a newer student of China culture and history. The DVD is not as high quality as I am used to, some scratches on the film in parts. But I am happy to have bought it and to have seen it. The story is well told, I think, in a more Chinese way -- which I appreciate. This applies to the writing and directing. The acting is quite good, from any perspective. The film is short at 94 minutes but packs a lot of content, with beautiful traditional costume, decor, achitecture, storytelling, song, allusions to BeiJing Opera, and history and cultural practices of many sorts. I was familiar with Gong Li, from better known films she has done, Chinese and United States. Here her role is a supporting role, but still a significant one.

The relationships between the Empress Dowagers (mothers of the emperor), and the young Emperor and his new wife, as well as the court intrigue among the others in the royal court were intriguing and held my interest.

I felt it was a beautiful film, though somewhat foreign to me in its style and culture. I appreciate it for teaching me much in a short time, in an enjoyable way, with such beauty and poetry."
The Empress Dowager....
topyairy | 02/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is the second part of a three part series of DVDs and VCDs. The first part of the story, Chui Lian Ting Zheng, tells the early part of the story, the death of the Xian Feng Emperor and the struggle for the two Dowager Empresses to take power.

The second part of the story, this DVD, Xi Tai Hou, tells the story of the death of Tong Zhi, the son of Ci Xi, the Western Dowager Empress.

The third part of the story, Yi Dai Yao Hou, is the remainder of the story of CiXi, her murder of the Eastern Dowager Empress and the adoption of GuangXu and her own death.

This movie was shot in the Chinese palaces and gives a better tour of the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the hunting lodge in Chengde and the Sea Palaces, than any documentary usually does."
Not so good....
Dream of Peace | 01/20/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is an interesting movie if you want to understand the cruelty the Empress Dowager served to the people in her court. The broken romance of the Emperor and a servant of the Empress was good. However, some of the scenes in the movie didn't make sense, and the subtitles didn't either. So unless you can speak Mandarin, there are some parts of the movie that definitely leave you saying, "huh?" Also, the movie, and the history books don't seem to agree on some a few points, so I am assuming the director took liberties to base the movie loosely on the life of the Empress Dowager. The movie only covered about seven or so years of her life, so if you really want to know about her life, consult a history book - not this movie."