Curse of the Golden Flower DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.5
Video 8.0
Audio 8.0
Total 8.5
Distributor: Universal
Classification:
M15+
Reviewer:
Geoff Clarke

8.5


Curse of the Golden Flower

Cold cruel passion and wicked court intrigue are portrayed with a sensuous visual splendor in "Curse of the Golden Flower," the latest period film of the great Chinese director Zhang Yimou. It's an incredible film, among the strangest and most overwhelming that Zhang has made. And it unfolds--during the Later Tang Dynasty (923-936 AD), a time of corruption, dictatorship and warfare--with a dark, stylized brilliance and an almost insane excess that will bewilder a good part of the audience and exhilarate others. 

As we watch, stunned, a bloody Jacobean tide of murder, adultery, incest and rebellion pours through the chambers of a glorious palace, into a courtyard covered with millions of golden cut chrysanthemums. Through the corridors prowl a cast of royal schemers and victims. That sinister ensemble 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. 

The cast is a memorable ensemble. Among the emperor's brood, Jay Chou, who plays the good, heroic middle son, Prince Jai, is a huge Taiwanese-Chinese pop star who effortlessly holds the screen. Liu and Qin, bookending him as the older and younger brothers, are effectively softer and weaker, like John Cazale's Fredo in "The Godfather." Chen Jin, as the doctor's wife, radiates a bone-chilling fury and melancholy. 

Those are lofty cinematic comparisons, but, in some ways, this film is near that aesthetic level. It's a work by cinematic geniuses that reveals beauty and terror in a long-ago time with a virtuoso intensity. You won't soon forget its mad, lovely sights and sounds.






 
 



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