Chen Kaige, Zhang Ziyi and Leon Laiduring - Chen Kaige, Zhang Ziyi and Leon Laiduring Seoul, South Korea - Hand-print ceremony for the cast of the Chinese movie 'Forever Enthralled' Wednesday 25th March 2009
It all starts off quite epic. Back in China's distant mystical past, there's a kingdom in which a battle had been waged, and a young girl scavenging food from dead soldiers. She's offered a tempting proposition by the Goddess Manshen, a floating apparition who seems to like messing with mortals: the girl will have everything she's ever desired, but everyone she loves will be taken away from her - unless time runs backward, snow falls in the spring, and the dead rise from the grave. The girl, not having a lot of options, agrees. This sets the stage for a grand, widescreen, Technicolor love triangle two decades down the line, the sort of thing one would imagine that Kaige could pull off in his sleep. The result is something quite closer to self-parody.
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Liu Xiaochun (Tang Yun, in a piece of casting that's nothing short of miraculous) has already amazed all the locals in his provincial town with his musical talents. He needs a bigger stage. His widower father Liu Cheng (Liu Peiqi) decides to leave his nightmarish job as a restaurant cook, tuck his meager life savings into his red cap, and take Xiaochun to Beijing, where he hopes to find a suitable violin teacher and new opportunities for his son.
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An ambitious historical epic of espionage, artifice and combat in the imperial courts of ancient China, "The Emperor and the Assassin" vividly fictionalizes the brutal, third Century B.C. unification of that nation by the psychologically unstable King of Qin (Li Xuejian), the most powerful of the region's of seven kingdoms.
A complex, manifold narrative from Chen Kaige ("Farewell My Concubine," "Temptress Moon"), this wildly cinematic, Homeric endeavor juggles a lot of information in its sprawling 161 minutes, and is sewn together by a few key performances.
Gong Li is Lady Zhao, the King's lover and a royal from another kingdom, who is assigned to arrange an assassination attempt on the King, so Qin will have an excuse to invade the kingdom of Yan.
Continue reading: The Emperor & The Assassin Review