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Review: Curse of the Golden Flower

movie-reviews Updated: Sep 15, 2007 18:17 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
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Curse of the Golden Flower
Cast: Gong Li, Chow Yun-Fat
Direction: Zhang Yimou
Rating: ****

This one is a grand show of exquisite period costumes, stunning decor, elaborate martial-arts clashes and melodramatic plot twists.

Indeed, Curse of the Golden Flower is one of the few worthy foreign-language films to make it to our multiplexes.

Fortuitously, the original Mandarin language version with English subtitles is being shown. The long-awaited reunion of Zhang Yimou and Gong Li- one of the great director-actress collaborations - yields an entertaining spectacle.

Adapting a popular 1933 play, Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern) narrates a fable about an emperor's family dissensions in medieval China.

A flower-fixated empress (Li) is attracted to her stepson. But the young crown prince is infatuated with a servant girl at the imperial palace. <b1>

Meanwhile, the emperor (Yun-Fat) administers small doses of poison in his wife's daily medicine. On discovering the treachery, the Empress devises a scheme to overthrow the ruler on the eve of the annual festival when the entire palace courtyard is festooned with golden chrysanthemums.

With overtones of a Shakespearean tragedy, the film is a feast for the eyes and mind. Recommended viewing for buffs of world cinema.