The Rise of the Empress Dowager
Tiger Ray | San Francisco, CA USA | 02/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Previously, I've only thought of Tzu Hsi as the old imperial Empress Dowager who ruled China for a half century. "The Lover of the Last Empress" is not a Chinese action movie. It's a drama chronicling the rise of Tzu Hsi from imperial concubine to Empress. There's a lot of sexual content. But the story is of a concubine whose role was to be a sexual object of the emperor. Tsu Hsi was probably one of the most ruthless women in history. She was the mother of the new child emperor, when Emperor Hseih Feng died of illness at an early age. But Emperor Hseih Feng's edict left the regency to eight trusted advisers and empowerment of his widow Queen. Also the late Emperor Hseih Feng's brother Prince Kung had the military power in the capital. The concubine Tzu Hsi overcame them all to rise to Empress.The movie only deals with the rise of Tzu Hsi. As a historical note, Tzu Hsi is said to have murdered her own son in order to retain power as regent by naming a child successsor.There is a lot of bad translation in the movie. I had to rewind some of the dialog. But it is a good movie about the subject.A good companion to this movie is a two part Chinese saga dealing with the same subject, "The Burning of Imperial Palace" and "Reign Behind the Curtain." The latter two movies were made in the early 80's."
Doesn't quite deliver
shaolinanimal | London, U.K. | 09/23/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This historical period drama focuses on the young concubine played by Chingamy Yau who manipulates the Emperor through her sexuality and eventually takes power. The film is a Hong Kong Category III classification which suggests that it will contain far more nudity and sexually explicit scenes than it does. There are a number of supposedly erotic scenes but they fail to titillate with the possible exception of the pseudo-lesbian scene. Paradoxically the sex scenes are as tasteful as they are gratuitous. There are a couple of action scenes but not near enough to satisfy fans of the genre. The concept of the female concubine being the strong, intelliegent character while the male Emperor is shown as weak is unlikely to win any support from feminists as she only achieves power through exploiting her sexuality. There are a few surprises in the movie and it is reasonably well filmed. Anyone looking erotica will probably be disappointed as there are better films available. Those who are looking for the type action Hong Kong action typified by John Woo films would be advised to opt for a film by the aforementioned director. For fans of Chingamy Yau this film is an absolute must have. For everyone else there are worse films that you could watch, but alas, there are also a good many better."