Sunday, September 20, 2009
Day 231: Curse of the Golden Flower (2006) - Rank 2.5/5
Let me preface this by saying that I love Zhang Yimou's work. From his heartwarming "To Live" to his glamorous, martial arts epic "House of Flying Daggers," his films have a great sense of story and style. "Hero" would be the perfect example as to how the director can strike harmony between the two, resulting int eh most aesthetically pleasing action to fill the screen. But whether his characters were iconic warriors or working class families, you find yourself compelled by their plights. Not so much with "Curse of the Golden Flower," a film that left me feeling empty.
The plot is less a story and more a series of double crosses as the empress (Gong Li) endeavors to usurp power from the emperor (Chow Yun-Fat), as the emperor surreptitiously poisons his wife to the point of insanity. Watching the film, I was reminded of watching "Pirate's of the Caribbean: At World's End." More story twists than story, amazing visuals that seem almost wasted and overwhelming action scenes that are more tiresome than engaging. There's no denying that Yimou has a knack for art direction. Every scene is so saturated with color and provided with composition so perfect that any NYU photography student would sell his/her soul to the devil to play set photographer for a day. The problem is there's no substance and you just can't feel sympathy for any of teh characters (even less so than another style over substance film, "Toys" - and that's pretty bad). Though I suppose that latter point could be seen as a pro to the film, for it diminishes the negative impact of the film's "Fuck you, viewer" ending to a sizable degree. Needless to say that this was a fair disappointment from one of my favorite directors.
Watch the Trailer