Emperor and the Assassin, The
Details: (MA15+), 162 mins, China, People's Republic of, English
Synopsis: During the third century BC, the king of Qin is attempting to unite China\'s seven states but finds his goal thwaretd by the Kingdom of Yan. Encouraged by the woman who is the love of his life, the king concocts an assassination plan to create just cause for him to attack his enemy. In so doing, he becomes a changed man and loses the respect of those closest to him.
The central characters whose motivations are often so obscure that it`s difficult to enter into the emotion of the film
Chen Kaige is one of the most significant filmmakers of China`s Fifth Generation - it almost all began with his film Yellow Earth ...he`s a winner of the Palm d` Or in Cannes with Farewell My Concubine and a master of visual image..... as you`ll see with his latest film, The Emperor and the Assassin....This opulent historical epic tells the story of the first Emperor of China, Ying Zheng played by Li Xuejian, a man who contrives to unify seven kingdoms by political conniving and bloody warfare. His concubine Lady Zhao - Gong Li - is a lover from his youth as a commoner and their past is a determining factor in their future. To help him overcome the neighbouring kingdom of Yan, Lady Zhao talks the king into a ruse that will ultimately justify an invasion of Yan.....The plottings of this film are so complex, the tapestry so vast, the history so alien that it`s not always easy to understand who`s doing what to whom or why. The most significant result of Lady Zhao`s adventure is that she falls in love with a reluctant assassin played by Zhang Fengyi and is betrayed by Ying when he invades her homeland. The moral of the tale is the price you pay for believing the end justifies the means. With the co-operation of the Chinese army Chen has been able to stage the most spectacular battle sequences, reminiscent of Kurosawa`s Ran - no computer generated images here, everyone is real. Except unfortunately the central characters whose motivations are often so obscure that it`s difficult to enter into the emotion of the film. But as a piece of spectacle there hasn`t been a film like The Emperor and the Assassin in years.....David`s Comments:This had the potential for an epic Chinese film in the Kurosawa mould; but Chen Kaige is more of an intimist, and he doesn`t make the convoluted plotting very coherent. There are some marvellous sequences, and it`s a thoroughly intriguing story about a piece of history with which I was unfamiliar; but it could have been grander and certainly more exciting.
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