Directed by: Yimou Zhang
Written by:Yimou Zhang
Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Li Gong, Jay Chou, Ye Liu, Dahong Ni, Junjie Qin, Qin Junjie
Released: April 26, 2007
Grade: B-

Maybe I’m hard to please but I’m tired of these Chinese movies that all feel the same.  They are set in ancient times, have lavish costumes and sets, feature the same actors and include plenty of martial arts sequences.  I speak of films such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero, House Of Flying Daggers and Fearless.  These movies all look great on the big screen but the increasing lack of originality has left me somewhat disinterested.  Why can’t I see a film set in modern day China?

Curse Of The Golden Flower is set in 10th Century.  Emperor Ping (Chow) and Empress Phoenix (Gong) rule the land from their lavish Imperial Palace.  They have two sons – Jai and Yu.  The first person in line to the thrown however is the Crown Prince Wan, the Emperor’s son from a former marriage.

What follows is reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy.  The family disintegrates with a mix of lies, betrayal and sabotage.  Some act out of love and honour whilst others are in search of wealth and power.  The myriad of storylines left me confused at times but I won’t reveal anything else for those who wish to see the film for themselves (and who are prepared to pay closer attention than I did).

The last film I saw from director Yimou Zhang was House Of Flying Daggers.  It was a beautiful film visually and I have no choice but to make the same statement here.  Curse Of The Golden Flower looks incredible.  It was filmed at the Forbidden City which tourists can visit in Beijing, China.  Just wait till you see the rainbow of colours inside.  The costumes also deserve a mention as they were recently honoured with an Academy Award nomination.

As I eluded to earlier, the story being told in Flower didn’t excite me.  I had trouble following the events and much of it felt repetitive.  Why did I have to watch the Empress drink her medicine so many times?  Too much time is wasted in the lead-up to the dramatic finale.  Put simply – it’s a two hour snooze fest with glimpses of promise.