(Review originally written at 27 March 2007)

Basically in its core and essence the movie is on big family drama, in which every family member of the royal Chinese family has a secret to hide. The drama isn't really that interesting to follow and perhaps also feels overdone but luckily in between- and toward the ending, the movie has more than enough action to still give the movie pace, style and reasons enough to watch this movie.

The movie is well directed, so the movie doesn't ever drag or becomes bad to watch, even though for a long time nothing is really happening in the movie. I mean basically the first 30 minutes of the movie are all about the empress having to drink her 'medicine' daily, without much further story or character development.

It are really two things that make this movie distinct itself from other genre movie; It's action and the visual look of it. Well maybe 3 things if you also count the acting, that was really good in my opinion, though it always remains difficult to judge acting in a language that you don't speak yourself.

The movie really is an epic in terms of its look but also definitely in terms of its action. The end battle toward the end of the movie that literally involves ten thousands of soldiers has an incredible epic feeling all over it. Also the action during the big battle does not disappoint and it's not just your average 'chop-work'. But we are accustomed to this already, ever since the big success of "Wo hu cang long". Also the much smaller fight sequences before the end battle are really good and impressive looking, with great choreography and nice weapons. It also isn't as over-the-top (though it isn't exactly realistic either) as in "Wo hu cang long" was the case, which is I think a positive thing.

But the visual style is perhaps the most notable thing about the movie. The movie is very colorful and uses many bright colors, also mostly with its impressive looking costumes (Oscar nominated). It also helps to make the movie a memorable viewing experience.

I am normally not a big fan of this particular type of Asian cinema but after seeing this movie I wouldn't mind seeing more movies like it.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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