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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curse of the Golden Flower (Blu-ray version)
Yimou Zhang's 2006 spectacular epic Curse of the Golden Flower set in the 10th century was given its European Blu-ray release on August 2011, that's four years after the DVD release; I'm glad to report the wait was worth it, this region free disc is encoded using MPEG4 in full 1080p resolution which shows up the colourful sets and the golden costumes and jewellery in all...
Published on 18 Nov 2011 by Milt M. R. Ingarfield

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much that glitters, little that's gold
Curse of the Golden Flower is a step up in budget from Zhang Yimou's Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but it's a step back in terms of drama: much that glitters, little that's gold. Set in a palace where everything is a spectacular and highly regimented ritual done on an epic scale, whether it is servants dressing by the hundreds or preparing food and medicine, it...
Published on 15 July 2009 by Trevor Willsmer


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curse of the Golden Flower (Blu-ray version), 18 Nov 2011
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Yimou Zhang's 2006 spectacular epic Curse of the Golden Flower set in the 10th century was given its European Blu-ray release on August 2011, that's four years after the DVD release; I'm glad to report the wait was worth it, this region free disc is encoded using MPEG4 in full 1080p resolution which shows up the colourful sets and the golden costumes and jewellery in all their glory, details such as the beads of sweat on foreheads now show up, the up-grade to Blu-ray also shows the emotions of the characters better and during the combat scenes involving bladed weapons sparks fly as they clang and scrape against each other this was not so obvious to me watching this production on DVD

The disc has a Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack which picks up all the delicate ambient sounds such as the rustle of the silk clothes as the characters walk around, the music has a lot more detail and the menacing sounding choir dominates and adds texture and atmosphere, there are two sets of English subtitles one normal and the other for the hard of hearing. This has become part of my test disc library with its use of deep rich colours and the blackest of blacks.

There are very few special features compared to its DVD counterpart it has the featurettes called "Secrets Within" and two others called "The Empress" and "The Emperor" respectively and that's it, the DVD had the teaser trailer and the trailer and a Photo gallery.
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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally stunning, poetry on celluoid!, 19 July 2007
By 
This review is from: Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly lets be clear about thing, this is not a martial arts movie though it has some incredible martial arts scenes that will take your breath away and leave you looking on in stunned wonder.

Also it is a foreign language film, fortunately not dubbed but with subtitles, not everyone's cup of tea but this will not stop you from enjoying ever single second of it, from the opening credits to the blood splattered ending.

The Curse of the Golden Flower is a sumptuous tale about family secrets, revenge, lust, desire, incest, adultery, power, and corruption, all wrapped up in a beautiful but very flawed package that is the Forbidden City of 10th century China.

Never before has one come across such a dysfunctional family as the Tang dynasty, the exquisite but deadly Empress Phoenix, played by the gorgeous Li Gong, the thoroughly amoral Emperor Ping, a glorious Yun Fat Chow in his element, his three sons, the weak Crown Prince Wan (Ye Liu)who has been having an affair with his stepmother, the Empress, Prince Jai, (Jay Chou) brilliant solider, and loyal son to his mother, torn between duty and love, he will make a fateful decision that will herald the beginning of the end for his family. And last but certainly not least the spoilt and unloved Prince Yu, (Junjie Qin) whose hatred of his family is cunningly disguised by his seemingly placid nature and acceptance of his lowly third son status.

Add to this mix, an Imperial Physician (Dahong Ni) with a wife (Jin Chen) whose connection to the royal household is a closely guarded secret, her daughter the lovely Chan (Man Li) who is is in love with the Crown Prince and you have the ingredients for a tragedy on a scale that can only be imagined.

With breathtaking scenery, the carpet of golden chrysanthemums has to be seen to be believed, fantastic costumes, atmospheric background music, coupled with stunning fight sequences between assassins and royal guards you will be left with your jaw hanging down as you witness the golden warriors go into battle against the Emperor and the twists and turns in a film that is none stop action and intrigue throughout.

The overall acting is without doubt perfection on celluloid, its a shame it didn't win an Oscar but sometimes Hollywood gets it wrong, and boy did they get it wrong this time!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 24 April 2007
By 
Curse of the Golden Flower is a subtle mix of the oppression of women, revenge, martial arts and stunning beauty. It is clear from the early stages of the film that the film is going to have some amazing visuals, and at no point within the entire film are we disappointed by the direction of the art. With each new room, we can see a palace that is full of decadence and tradition. With gold an incredibly important part of the film, it is understandable to see why every last item is gold plated, gold brushed or just gold in colour.

The storyline itself is also rather complicated if you have no prior knowledge to the backstabbing Chinese Royal Family's history. The film is centred around the Empress, played by Gong Li (recently seen in Memoir's of a Geisha), and throughout the opening passages of the film we are shown the tradition that governs the Forbidden City's way of life, her struggle with the Emperor and her increasingly deadly illness.

After an hour or so of almost period drama styling, where we are slowly introduced to some of the more complicated power struggles, we are thrown into the action sequence of the film. Where there are Ninjas, Imperial Guards and masked men en-mass. All of which are fighting for different factions within the Royal Family.

The film ends on a powerful high note, and we're left to guess whether or not the Empress will suffer for the attempted coup d'état.

One must not forget the soundtrack to the film either, throughout the entire film there is a strong soundtrack being played, there are only a few scenes without the music composed by Shigeru Umebayashi. The composition adds depth and emotion to the film, which is only heightened by the stunning performance from Gong Li.

If you are expecting something similar to House of Flying Daggers then you will be slightly disappointed, although the visuals are far more impressive than Daggers, the action is far more sparse and you get the feeling that the action was meant to be more of a sideline aspect of the film. As the story surrounds the coup d'état and the relationships between the characters, in which there is in abundance and a few cross character relationships as well.

This film is easily worth the viewing if you enjoy powerful visuals, with a strong story and you can read subtitles at a quick speed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much that glitters, little that's gold, 15 July 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD] (DVD)
Curse of the Golden Flower is a step up in budget from Zhang Yimou's Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but it's a step back in terms of drama: much that glitters, little that's gold. Set in a palace where everything is a spectacular and highly regimented ritual done on an epic scale, whether it is servants dressing by the hundreds or preparing food and medicine, it focuses on the kind of royal family who make the Plantageneats in The Lion in Winter look like the Waltons. He's poisoning her, she's planning a coup against him and the Crown Prince has gone from an affair with his stepmom to one with his half-sister... Yet for all the poisoning and plotting the problem is that it's rather dull. It never descends into outright boredom, but it doesn't particularly engage for most of the first two thirds.

As usual with Yimou, the moral of the tale is ambiguous: on one level it could be don't go against the natural order, no matter how unfair it seems (father knows best, even if he is poisoning mum), on another it could be know your place no matter how inexplicably cruel you may find the ruling regime. Or it could just be a good old-fashioned tragedy with unhappy endings all round. On a more dramatically successful film maybe the ambiguity wouldn't be so niggling, but with such huge resources thrown at it to such little effect, you feel that it should all add up to SOMETHING.

True, a lot of money has been visibly lavished on the film, but it rarely feels wisely spent. That the corridors of the palace look like they've been designed by a Bombay stallholder with unlimited funds, more garish than opulent, make many of the interiors look more a monument to bad taste than a glittering façade to hide the corruption within. The wonderfully conceived use of colour and design of Hero and House of Flying Daggers here gives way to visual overkill. Forget the golden flower, this definitely suffers from the curse of too much CGi in the final battle as the addition of an increasingly unfeasible number of perfectly synchronized digital extras completely swamp the human element the scene needs to succeed. When the CGi golden army attacks the palace it doesn't really impress as much as it should - the CGi is good enough, but it's also too controlled and uniform, lacking the feeling of spontaneity you get with real extras. Maybe it's just that the look is so overexposed that digital extras seem too much of a cheat to impress the way that going to all the trouble of using the real thing did. After all, when so much is done in the computer, what physical human effort is left to admire?

Nor does the individual fight choreography impress as much as in Yimou's previous films. There is even some surprisingly clumsy editing of mismatched shots in the `smaller' scenes that make you wonder whether Yimou wants to draw attention to them or simply doesn't care enough to finesse them. Perhaps it's telling that the film's most visually effective moment is the massive co-ordinated cleanup operation after the battle as the bodies are dragged away and the palace is quickly restored to normality and that only the film's final scene has the kind of real emotional power that the rest of the film could have done with.

It seems oddly significant that despite the epic scale, only 8 of the cast are credited while the crew, designers, costumers and computer technicians are billed at great length: people really don't seem to be the film's priority. That's sadly reflected in some of the performances. Perhaps it's because the once prolific Chow Yun Fat has worked so little this century that it's genuinely surprising to see how much he's visibly aged as the Emperor. While this is used to some effect, we rarely see why he does what he does, which tends to render him more of a shallow villain when the circumstances really merit. It's certainly hard to see him as the wronged party when his revenge is so ruthless and calculated. But sadly most of the performances are decidedly one-note while the cast wait for their big scenes, with only the female cast making much impression (the film is good on the submissive role women were forced to accept). Yet as good as Jin Chen is as the Emperor's wronged first wife, it's Gong Li who really impresses, and how. As the Empress trying to hold onto her sanity long enough to depose her husband before his poisoned medicine turns her into a living ghost she's remarkably powerful without ever overstating: it's the small details rather than the grand gestures that really count with her. Unfortunately as her stepson and lover, Ye Liu overacts the sensitive angst almost enough to make Nicholas Tse look subtle, yet somehow in their scenes together Gong Li still manages to keep them from sliding away into pure melodrama. Sadly, her efforts are never quite enough to make up for the film's shortcomings.

It's not helped by Universal's problematic UK DVD. The burnt-in subtitles are tiny and the first chapter is `locked' so you can't go back to catch a line you may have missed while squinting to make out the text. Nor is the transfer particularly good, the fact that there's not nearly enough detail in many shots becoming more apparent the larger the TV screen you watch it on. The extras are disappointingly US-centric - a reasonable but slightly misleading American making of documentary is alright despite bizarrely subtitling even Chow Yun Fat's English interview into English (!), but much of it is repeated on the two very short featurettes on Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li, while the two brief trailers are for the USA release, both avoiding dialogue scenes lest the audience find out it's in a foreign language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murderous imperial melodrama, but sumptuous and visually stunning. With Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat, 18 May 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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Curse of the Golden Flower (Man Cheng Jin Dai Huang Jin Jia) is gorgeous melodrama; a visual feast of scarlet, gold and magenta, of lush set pieces with thousands of characters (computer generated but still impressive), of armies of men wearing yellow, scarlet or iron-colored armor...but melodrama all the same. In Tenth Century China, the Emperor Ping (Chow Yun Fat), ruthless and malevolent, is slowly poisoning the Empress Phoenix (Gong Li), ruthless and determined, with an extract from a fungus which will drive her insane before she dies. They have three sons. There is the Crown Prince Xiang, somewhat weak, who has been having an intimate affair with his mother for a couple of years. There is the second son, Prince Jie, who is capable and torn between fealty to his father and responsibility to his mother. And there is the youngest son, Prince Chang, scarcely more than a teen-ager, always happy and ready to please, usually ignored by both parents, and a young man who hides his resentments. The Empress knows she is being poisoned and puts into play a plot which will culminate during the Festival of the Chrysanthemum. A violent plot it is, with bloody consequences for everyone.

But does this dysfunctional family with all the plotting and maneuvering really mean anything? Not much, in my view, except as a reason to create wonderful visual images without end, plus a chance to see two outstanding actors, Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat, show why they're so good. There are plenty of confrontations, secrets about first marriages and first wives, sword thrusts and choreographed duels and battles to keep most people happy. I had a grand time, but I was hungry two hours later.

Most likely if this film by Zhang Yimou is remembered in twenty years, it will be because of its production values. The palace settings, despite the dark doings, are vibrant with color; there are bright, multi-hued columns, rugs and walls that virtually scream to be noticed, heavy and ornate costumes and sumptuous details, such as the golden hair-pins Gong Li wears and the small, translucent cup she drinks her poisoned medicine from. The attack by the Chinese equivalent of black-clad ninja warriors on an Imperial outpost in a canyon is great, choreographed action...dozens of these shadowy men rappelling down cliffs, using hooks and cables to slide down from great heights onto the roofs of the compound. In the dusk it looks like clouds of black raptors swooping from the sky. At the imperial palace a great circular pavilion is built looming over the immense square. When the square is filled with yellow chrysanthemums it looks like a vast golden plain. The climatic battle between the two forces on this golden field of chrysanthemum is filled with brightly uniformed men in the thousands, with huge wooden walls rolled into place that sprout spears and slowly move forward while arrows darken the sky. Afterwards, cleaning the square of all the bodies and blood and armor, then replacing the crushed flowers with new chrysanthemums, is nearly as impressive as the battle itself. It's great, engrossing stuff. The one false note was the occasional gymnastic sword play between actors. When you see a middle-aged woman suddenly doing backflips, or an aging emperor sitting on an ornate bench able to ward off blindingly fast front, back and side sword strikes, well, for me, I found myself amused, not amazed.

When one considers the movies Zhang Yimou has given us -- among them Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad, The Road Home, The Story of Qiu Ju -- he gets a free pass from me on this one. It's great fun and not much more, but enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Film, 19 Jan 2012
This review is from: Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD] (DVD)
I can not understand why there are so many poor ratings for this film. I have seen the directors previous two martial arts films and personally think this is his finest achievement. It is important to realise that this is not a martial arts film as such. It is a dramatic tragedy in the tradition of Shakespeare about a Kingdom, a family and the betrayals, secrects and plotting that goes on. Yes there is martial arts in it but this is secondayr to plot and drama. The film looks absolutely gorgeous. The set design, costumes and colour schemes are a feast for the eyes. The story builds gradually but I prefer this to a fight every five minutes and I did not find it too slow. The performances are top notch especially the beautiful Gong Li who is one of Asia's finest actresses. Chow Yun Fat is also impressive. The fight sequences are well staged with sufficient blood and some CGI and wirework but I did not feel it was overdone. The thing I did not like about Hero was the over-use of CGI such as to show a sword slicing through a drop of water etc. Also, although this film is melodramatic I felt it held together unlike the final third of House of Flying Daggers which was dramatically laughable. I am a fan of Asian cinema in general but was not expecting to like this film as much as I did. I think viewers expecting lots of martial arts and impatient to watch a story and characterisation develop are maybe the ones scoring this low. It is an epic and beautifully made film and worth 5 stars in my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Director Rests On His Technique., 28 Sep 2007
By 
nmollo (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD] (DVD)
Yimou Zhang is a brilliant Director. He is arguably the greatest Director alive today. His best films like "Huozhe" and "House of Flying Daggers" are most certainly classics of modern Cinema.

"Curse Of The Golden Flower" is not.

In fact the star of this film is the Production Design. Normally that distinction goes to an actor.

My first problem with the film was with the musical score. It was an overly bombastic choral score that detracted from the visuals and performances. Simple dialogue scenes were pervaded by this histrionic music as if commanding the desired emotions at the desired moment. It failed on all counts.

The film is essentially an old fashioned melodrama. Some of the performances take us back to the acting style of the early silent picture days. The Martial Arts also strike a false note. They seem out of place in what is essentially a family melodrama.

The Battle scenes also have the aspect of a computer game. Ranks of CGI soldiers fill every inch of the screen and charge in a very controlled non-human way. This computer manipulation of great armies may make the directors life easy but it strips away any sense of human nature.

Li Gong holds the bare threads of this film together with another strong performance.

Yimou Zhang is resting on his technique as a Director. There are also an extra-ordinary amount of close-ups in this film as if he was making a drama for television. He makes no attempt to try something new. He uses motifs we have seen before. He uses action we have seen before. He uses Special Effects we have seen before. I hope this is a Yimou Zhang we will not see again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curse of the Golden Soap Opera, 21 Oct 2008
By 
JEY (Largs, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD] (DVD)
*WARNING- SEMI SPOILERS AHEAD*

This is basically about one of the most dysfunctional families EVER! Set in the good ol Tang Dynasty days when it was hip to be Emperor and you had about a gazillion flower arrangers at your beck and call, the plot mainly revolves around the disintegration of the royal family due to their own back stabber-y hi-jinks. Apparently it's not so hip to be an adulterating Empress, even if you do look very pretty all resplendent in your opulent gowns. It's amazing she can move in that stuff!

The entire movie's pretty opulent actually. It's like watching that panoramic bowing scene from 'The Last Emperor' crossed with an Olympic opening ceremony. There's more plotting and scheming than actual fighting, but when they start with the leaping and weapon chucking, it's very entertaining. It's also got Chow Yun Fat in it which is always a bonus for me, cause I just love Chow Yun Fat. I also enjoyed Gong Li's portrayal of the tragic Empress. She created a dangerously bitter but somewhat sympathetic character desperately struggling against her wretched circumstances. The actress Jin Chen also gave a noteworthy performance as the mysterious wife of the palace physician with her own agenda.

Overall it's basically a big fancy soap opera rather than the epic drama it wants to be, but it is fantastic to watch. Worth a gander.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'STUNNINGLY ENTERTAINING', 29 May 2014
By 
rbmusicman (U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD] (DVD)
This 'martial arts' offering is visually stunning.
With 'pomp and ceromony' backed up with an 'extravagant
set' and 'lavish costumes'
In my opinion this fabulous spectacle eclipses many of its previous contempories.
The use of coulours,the musical chants, brilliant.
And do you know what, the story line is probably one of the strongest seen yet for this style of cinema magic, the
fight scenes are also so impressive.
All of which, without spoiling the plot, is why i have awarded the film '5 stars'
(If you love Martial-Art spectacles, this could be for you.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Chinese Film, 21 April 2007
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD] (DVD)
"The Curse of the Golden Flower" comes from the same stable as "House of Flying Daggers" and "Hero" and it is fair to say that it is of a similar quality to these memorable films. The dazzling costumes, sumptuous sets and the breathtaking choreography of the fight scenes are quite astounding . There are thousands of extras and millions of flowers (golden chrysanthemums) in this film which tells the tale of political intrigue in the Imperial Palace in the latter years of the Tang Dynasty. Everyone seems to be plotting against each other in the film and admittedly at times it can be hard to work out exactly why . I can only fault this film for being quite slow moving initially and slow to catch fire , but catch fire it certainly does in the last half hour of amazing action. "The Curse of the Golden Flower" is a film to savour , but one that I think would be best appreciated on the big screen rather than on DVD.
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Curse of the Golden Flower [DVD]
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