ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – C – Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Zhihong Bian, Nan Wu, Yimou Zhang (Screenplay) Yu Cao (Play)

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Li Gong, Jay Chou, Ye Liu, Dahong Ni

 

Plot: During China’s Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.


Tagline – Unspeakable secrets are hidden within the Forbidden City.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Beautiful

 

Story: Curse of the Golden Flower starts in China, Later Tang Dynasty, 10th Century. On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden flowers fill the Imperial Palace. The Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) returns unexpectedly with his second son, Prince Jai (Jay Chou). His pretext is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the ailing Empress (Gong Li), this seems disingenuous. For many years, the Empress and Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye), her stepson, have had an illicit liaison. Feeling trapped, Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his secret love Chan (Li Man), the Imperial Doctor’s daughter. Meanwhile, Prince Jai, the faithful son, grows worried over the Empress’s health and her obsession with golden chrysanthemums. Could she be headed down an ominous path? The Emperor harbors equally clandestine plans; the Imperial Doctor (Ni Dahong) is the only one privy to his machinations. When the Emperor senses a looming threat, he relocates the doctor’s family from the Palace to a remote area. While they are en route, mysterious assassins attack them. Chan and her mother, Jiang Shi (Chen Jin) are forced back to the palace. Their return sets off a tumultuous sequence of dark surprises. Amid the glamour and grandeur of the festival, ugly secrets are revealed. As the Imperial Family continues its elaborate charade in a palatial setting, thousands of golden armored warriors charge the palace. Who is behind this brutal rebellion? Where do Prince Jai’s loyalties lie? Between love and desire, is there a final winner? Against a moonlit night, thousands of chrysanthemum blossoms are trampled as blood spills across the Imperial Palace.

 Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia (2006)

Thoughts on Curse of the Golden Flower

 

Final ThoughtsI am going to be honest, I couldn’t get into this movie at all, I found it hard to follow the story and description above is just copied of the IMDB. What I did like the visuals, the sets are fantastic, colourful and so easy on the eye, you just want to make screen savers out of them. The costumes a beautiful, authentic and stunning too. The performances from the cast are good throughout too, and the action sequences and romantic moments all check off the boxes well, it is only the story I didn’t like really, which is the main thing you need to be able to follow.

 

Overall: Visual treat on the eyes

Rating

 

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Action – H – House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang (Screenplay)

Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Ziyi Zhang, Dandan Song, Hongfei Zhao

 

Plot: A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.


Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Stunning

 

Story: House of Flying Daggers starts as we meet two police captains, Jin (Kaneshiro) and Leo (Lau) both have been assigned to locate the new leader of the group known as the Flying Daggers, the first lead is with blind showgirl Xiao Mei (Zhang) who is set to be tortured for the information.

Jin rescues Xiao because of his respect of the Flying Daggers and wanting away from the corrupt government system. With Captain Leo hot on their tails it isn’t long before we are on a race to safety but not everything is what it seems.

 

Thoughts on House of Flying Daggers

 

Characters – Jin is one of the captain’s in the police in China, he is a playboy with the women which helps as he goes against order to rescue a prime suspect in the search for the rebel group, known as the Flying Daggers. Jin uses his charm to get close to the truth but his status becomes difficult once the truth about his plan is revealed. Leo is the fellow Captain that is by the books to make sure everything goes to the plan with the torture of Mei. Xiao Mei is the blind showgirl that is a prime suspect in the search for the Flying Daggers. Once rescued from jail, he must decide whether to truth Jin or not in a world which is dark to her, her fighting skills are fantastic as she sounds around her to know where her enemies are.

PerformancesTakeshi Kaneshiro is great in this leading role, but this does go for the three lead roles Andy Lau and Ziyi Zhang, the three shine in the film with the combat skills required to handle everything they go through with the emotional moments too.

StoryThe story here starts out as any routine, save a prisoner to go against your government idea but soon goes in directions you wouldn’t have imagined as certain things are not what they seem and love consumes the characters and what they believe they stand for. This is a very good story to watch unfold, we get moments of breaking when we turn to the action but that offers us something as the action scenes offer a moment needed for the characters to develop in the bigger picture.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action through the film is breath-taking moments using nature and weapons is a blend of beauty. The romance side of the film comes on thick in the second half as we see just how far the people will go for love.

SettingsThe film takes place mostly in a countryside of China, this gives us the beauty needing for the fight sequences.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to help with the fight sequences look even more breath-taking.


Scene of the Movie –
Treetop battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We lose track of the bigger battle in the final act.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best-looking action movies you will see, it leads you one direction before throwing us into a new one too.

 

Overall: Visual experience for all.

Rating

 

 


The Great Wall (2016)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy (Screenplay) Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (Story)

Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Hanyu Zhang

 

Plot: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Big Bad, Forgettable

 

Story: The Great Wall starts with a Great Wall history lesson as we learn the wall was constructed to keep enemies out some known others are legend, this is one of the legends. We meet the European mercenaries William (Damon), Tovar (Pascal) and their men on the run. Finding themselves under attack William and Tovar find an enemy unlike anything they have seen before but that is the least of their worries as they are still being hunted down but find themselves at the mercy of the Chinese.

Captured by the Chinese, Commander Lin Mae (Jing), General Shao (Zhang) and Strategist Wang (Lau) must decide what to do with the men and if their story is true. William and Tovar find themselves trapped in the middle of a battle between the Chinese and their defensive wall and blood thirsty creatures, a war their never asked for but a battle they were always ready to fight in.

 

Thoughts on The Great Wall

 

Characters/PerformanceWilliam is one of the Europeans who finds himself using all his combat skills to help the Chinese fight the creatures that terrorise their people and if they can get through the world. This battle gives William a chance at redemption for the wrongs he has committed in life. Tovar is his partner who wants to continue the darker path but his loyalty to William keeps him stuck between the lines.  Commander Lin is the strong leading women, she is willing to sacrifice herself to protect her people and he combat skills excel. Ballard is the once captured man who has become part of the battle but against his own will. The rest of the characters are all what you would expect in the wildly over the top action fantasy adventure films.

Performance wise, Matt Damon does struggle in this role, his accent skills are terrible as he bounces between most European from scene to scene even though he holds his own in the action sequences. Pedro Pascal is fun getting most of the comic relief throughout the film. Willem Defoe is the usual odd ball supporting role with Tian Jing being the star of the show.

StoryThe story does work in places, the mystery about the Great Wall will always make for an appealing story, while most of the history is known it is always interesting to see a twist on what could be a story about the history behind it all. The fantasy elements of the story is what drives this but in the end it is nothing more humans versus monsters with people needing to work together to make them win.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is big, but at times hard to follow with the adventure coming from how the humans battle to survive. The fantasy side does work but also feels like something we have seen way too often.

SettingsHaving the film set mostly on the Great Wall works in my opinion because it plays into the fantasy idea of the wall being built to fight an ancient enemy.

Special EffectsThis is a film that is very heavy on the CGI and you can tell because a lot of them miss and look bad for the overall quality of the film.

Final ThoughtsI found this to be over the top, unoriginal but easy to watch, I don’t think this will be up for any awards just become forgettable.

 

Overall: This is an easy film to watch but nowhere near a classic

Rating