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This review is from: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan [DVD] (DVD)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a commercial and critical flop from acclaimed director Wayne Wang and adaptation of a bestselling novel that I haven't read. On surface it's a interesting art-house film that delves into some very interesting topics from Chinese culture and tries to make it work in both the historical setting of the book and in the newly added plot line set in modern time China. But sadly, the end result is utterly boring and melodramatic, Spielbergian style schmaltz and goo fest with very few redeeming qualities to it. Yes, the sets look wonderful and the cinematography is excellent as you might expect from a film made in China. But unlike the works of Zhang Yimou, the writing and acting just doesn't keep up and leave you with an empty feeling at the end.
It stars Bingbing Li who you might have seen in the horrendous Resident Evil: Retribution and my absolute favorite actress Jun Ji-Hyun who you might have seen in the Blood: The Last Vampire film and other lesser known Korean films like My Sassy Girl, Windstruck, Daisy and the recent The Thieves. They both try their best, especially Jun Ji-Hyun who has to speak in two foreign languages that she doesn't talk very well. It always baffled me why they chose her to play the part opposite Bingbing Li. She is Korean and while they explained her nationality and poor Mandarin in the modern setting, it completely made no sense in the historical setting. I guess she was cast because in Asia she is a recognizable name and to broaden the appeal of the film in other Asian countries and that she is probably the best actress of her generation with Doona Bae. Also there is Hugh Jackman and he sings in Mandarin and appears in few scenes. If he was in more than 5 minutes the film could have been salvaged by his accent alone.
So did I hate this film? Not really. I rather enjoyed it on a guilty pleasure kind of way. There are few scenes that completely redeem the film in my eyes and it has a landmark moment in the career of Jun Ji-Hyun. For those who has seen every film with her in it, will know that before this film, she haven't kissed anyone. And in the Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, she shared a kiss with Hugh Jackman. But for general audience this isn't going to matter at all and you will be bored by the film. I cant' recommend it for anyone unless you are a fan of Jun Ji-Hyun or Bingbing Li and want to see their filmography's or you are just very curious about it and can endure anything thrown at you.