Curse of the Golden Flower was another film I had a chance to see a few weeks ago but haven’t had time to write about… Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li played the leads in this colorful martial arts drama (heavier on drama than martial arts) about the unraveling of a Tang Emperor’s household.
If there ever was a Chinese Shakespeare, I think he would have written something like this film. There was enough back-stabbing and underhanded dealing going on to keep even the most insane theater goer wondering what was going on. Dark, depraved, incestuous, and dramatic, this film had it all.
And it didn’t skimp on the martial arts either… It wasn’t as laden with them as something like the House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but I was impressed that the martial arts sequences worked as a part of the story, not just as a long series of action sequences thrown together. Each “fight” scene covered a pivotal part of the plot.
Even though we watched the subtitled version, I have to say I thought the acting was great. I believed Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li as the long-time feuding married couple who brought down their own house with their secretive ways.
But what left the biggest impression was the huge, lavish, colorful sets. Where House of Flying Daggers took place outside for the most part, this film was inside for the most part and the garish reds and golds were everywhere.
Was this film my favorite martial arts film in recent memory? No, probably not. But it’s probably in the top 10. I’ll give it a solid 3 out of 4 stars and suggest renting it if you like your martial arts wire-fu movies a little more dramatic than usual. 🙂
Until next time…