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Curse of the Golden Flower

Title: Curse of the Golden Flower
Original title:
滿城盡帶黃金甲
Directed by: Zhang Yimou
Written by:
Zhang Yimou, Cao Yu
Year: 2006

A movie directed by Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern) and starring Gong Li (from The Emperor and the Assassin and Raise the Red Lantern) has potential to be rather good, and so I wasn’t very surprised when the film started out in a satisfactory manner. The Curse of the Golden Flower is also course material in the same way as Raise the Red Lantern, which means that the actually watching of the movie was preceded by some study fo especially clothing from the appropriate era (late Tang dynasty).

The story focuses on the imperial household, where the ailing empress receives the emperor and their second son for the Chong Yang Festival. However, things are unlikely to go smoothly due to the tensions between the the emperor and his consort (he is slowly poisoning her), a well as various complicated relationships within the court itself (such as the illicit relationship between the empress and her stepson). And of course, even though things seem simple enough at first, there are some surprises in store.

I think this film starts out promisingly, but it loses momentum somewhere around the middle. The ending feels drawn out and when the credits start rolling in, I’m left with a sense of incompletion. The setting and the characters are good, though, along with the visual appearance of almost anything in the entire film (lots of gold and soldiers). On the negative side, the fighting scenes are horrible. They consist of so many close-ups that the fighting is reduced to a totally incomprehensible blur. That might be good in some movies, but wuxia films cannot get away with that. Also, Gong Li is a good actress, but this film consists of a few too many scenes focusing on her distressed face. It’s good, but it’s not enough to make a good movie. The Curse of the Golden Flower starts promisingly, but sadly loses momentum and degenerates along the way.

All told, I enjoyed watching this film, especially the first half, but I felt a little bit tired towards the end. I don’t regret watching it, but I did expect more. Three snails to Curse of the Golden Flower.

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  1. Mark’s avatar

    I liked it. You can never have to many closeups of Gong Li. That ZY’s trademark anyway.

    Reply