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The worst about the film is the song over the end credits: I tend to refer to it as “Chu Hua Cha” (Chrysanthemum Tea), but I think the real title is slightly different. That Jay Chou is the God of Chinese pop at the moment and that this song is the peak of his achivements tells so much about the state of music in China and the attitude of the Chinese youth… Anyway: the film is, like the previous Zhang Yimou movies (apart from “Riding alone…”, which I have not seen yet, but which claims to be different), a masterpiece in production design and costumes, and has little to offer on dramatic development and characters. Or rather (as the Variety reviewer pointed out, see link below), it has too much of all this: too many twists and intrigues, too many cgi soldiers clashing in fancy gold and black, too many sweat drops of suffering empress Gong Li, and too much shivering in her fight against the poison but her heroic power forbidding her to give in. With superhuman power she fights the disease and comes back with a vengeance, only to … and so on. No doubt she is nice to look at, as the whole film, but a bit less of the surele Weta-powered mass battles and a bit more a silence and contemplation would have been beneficial. I honestly could not care anymore when as a nice next-to-final twist the incest was revealed, when the odds on the battlegrounds turned again, but just concentrated on the nice hairdo of Chow and the amazingly uninteresting face of Jay Chou. I guess this is as good as Chinese mainstream cinema gets at the moment. At least it was way beyond the last Chen Kai-Ge’s embarrasment .

IMDB entry:
NYT Review:

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