Monday, 28 January 2013

Review - Curse of the Golden Flower (2006 - Dir. Yimou Zhang)

Curse of the Golden Flower is a tale of intrigue in a severely dysfunctional family seasoned with a smattering of incest. It's directed by the fellow who gave us Hero and House of Flying Daggers, both of which are rather good films. Curse isn't quite as good but it does have its moments.

It has got such richly opulent colours that I felt like my brain was going to dribble out of my ears, eyes and nose due to colour exposure. Have a look at the screenshots to see what I mean. But imagine watching that for just shy of two hours, blown up on a large telly screen. I was half tempted to adjust the saturation on the remote to give my eyes a rest. 

But when a rest comes the contrast is very welcome. There are dark and moody shots of ninja types swooping down and attacking people with throwing sickle type devices. The Special Features stated that all of this action is realistic. I find that a bit difficult to believe. If it's true though, ninjas were so immensely cool, and some other films like, Ninja Scroll, were probably realistic too. Brilliant.

This film isn't for the impatient of mind. It takes a fair old while to get going. Despite this I was engaged with all of the characters and skullduggery. It builds to a large scale battle that is mightily impressive. It doesn't have the emotional power of Hero but it shows the horror of war during China's Tang dynasty.

Given that the two leads are Chow Yun-Fat (Hard Boiled) and Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern) some half decent acting is pretty much guaranteed. And despite it all getting a little melodramatic towards the end, they both deliver. They make the realtionship between the Emperor and the Empress believable. Yun-Fat is particularly great when he has to whip his son with his belt. A huge golden belt. 

Being English, I'm quite used to supporting the underdog who has absolutely no chance of winning but has a go anyway. (It would be fair to say that I'm not a Man Utd fan.) Curse of the Golden Flower requires that same commitment. I'll let you find out for yourself whether the underdogs manage to jam a last minute goal or whether they get hammered six nil.

If you like this you could also try:
Hero, House of Flying Daggers, An Empress and the Warriors.


  1. I actually watched the first half hour of this, but gave up. I might give it another go if there's a big battle to look forward to.

    1. It's worth it for the battle. But I'd agree, it does start off pretty slowly.

  2. Id call Gong Li's acting(and beauty) better than "half decent" lol

    1. I do tend to understate sometimes...