Movie Review: Curse of the Golden Flower
This is going to be this blog’s first movie review, if you call this one.I went to the movies today to treat myself. I pretended to be an expert on films so I tried to “critic” many films starting last year. But this seems to be the first to launch on blogosphere.
I was attracted to this film for its visit to 10th century China. I have to admit I was one of those who watched imperial China films (and the kung-fu genre too!) even if I could not find a scientific explanation why the warriors could fly and defy gravity among other cinematic overtures.
When I saw the trailer on line, I decided to spend some bucks to pay Gong Li, Chow Yun-Fat and the rest of the cast perform in front of me (on screen of course!).
Minutes before the movie hit the screen; a friend told me I should watch Ghost Rider, instead. I was told the Chinese film is too violent.
I have already made up my mind for the Asian film, so I ignored Hollywood for my P60-ticket. I have neither ideological nor racial cause in choosing the Zhang Yimou film over the Nicholas Cage starrer. Maybe the title just sounds mysterious.
It’s been a while since I last watched a movie, and alone at that. But I have to let it happen so I can just sit back in that theater – just let things happen, for once.
Those few friends who pledged loyalty to the widescreen (and not to the 8-1 DVD copycat!) told me they would watch either local filmdom’s “The Promise” or that ghost.
So I entered the freezing-point theater and caught the last few clips of the trailer of the Sparta memoir film “300”.
Language is my first disappointment of the film. It was not dubbed in English. Luckily the makers pitied the non-Mandarin or non-Cantonese viewers by placing subtitles.
The subs are of course, the curse! I have to chase translation lines as I follow the actors maneuver rapid scenes.
The story is of course full of surprises. The focus is on the Tang royal family in feudal China. It was a family of ironies. From the outside they are typical royalty: regal, dignified, powerful and esteemed. But on the inside, they are in a rotten state – full of secrets.
Every scene brought a surprise –either blood or a wild emotion. I just hated the ending because it validated my friend’s in-a-nutshell review: it’s a violent film. Well, what do you expect in a tragedy, which Time magazine’s Richard Corliss in his review alluded that the story was “swiped” out from Shakespearean tragedies like Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear.
Emperor Chow Yun Fat (sorry I did not get his screen name) is for me the face of the absolute authority of the Chinese patriarch and ruler. Chow was dressed older in the movie to fit the stature of the leader in that flamboyant period.
I think he is the film’s real villain and main victor.
Gong Li is also majestic as the empress (reminds me of Queen Elizabeth in “Elizabeth”.) But she played the role of a complex and repressed consort in the film, one that has become a loser towards the end.
Prince Jay Chou (“Jai”) is my favorite character. The emperor thrust him into military duties but he still choose to side with his mother. In him I could see loyalty, courage, and boldness.
The film was a story of infidelity, deceit, passion, and power play. It has a lot of swordplay and 10th century warfare.
Although, I know not film reviewing, I can say the film is spectacular (color, sounds, plots, conflict of ids and egos), breathtaking (stunts, surprises, violence, like blood painted on the wall) and also invasive.
Well, at least I think eight people walked out from the screening, maybe because of the gory scenes and the twists of treachery, deceit, and incest!
I give the film five in the scale of 10. The medium is fine – it’s just that it’s depressive, appalling, and also made me think I wasted some relaxation money.
I think evil reigned in the movie and good was not allowed to pull off. It’s more Yin (darker side) than Yang (the brighter other).
I did not feel I was able to unwind. Maybe, not the typical feel-good movie you get. But just as I said, it has its merits.