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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 19 July 2007
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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on 24 April 2007
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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on 18 November 2011
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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on 19 January 2012
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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VINE VOICEon 21 April 2007
"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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on 24 May 2011
This boxset is a superb introduction to Wuxia cinema and the work of Jet Li. Most of us have heard of or seen Crouching Tiger... and the two accompanying films are excellent companion pieces. "Curse of the Golden Flower" is in my opinion better than "Crouching Tiger...": the cinematography is just as gorgeous, and the Wushu battles are even more grand.

My only criticism is that Jet Li's "Fearless" is not quite up to the same standard as its companion films, but nevertheless it is an enjoyable and well-made action movie that can hold its own within the genre, it's just that it isn't fantastic like the two masterpieces provided.

All in all, the picture quality is crisp, the subtitles are good, the films are great, and the value for money is excellent. An excellent introduction to Wushu and Wuxia!
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on 17 November 2016
Never mind the martial arts, there are some in it and they are fantastic but that is not what makes this movie for me. But the plot. The dedication and strength of the wife/mother. The cruelty of her husband. The ambition of her sons. And there is love. The scenes are breathtaking. The colours in the palace. The extravagance of the chrysanthemums laid out for the festival.... and the ending.

Extremely watchable and haunting.
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on 10 January 2007
As depraved and corrupt as the House of Thebes, as morally bankrupt as the Hubbard/Giddens family in Lillian Hellman's "Little Foxes" or George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia

Woolf," (all of which this film calls to mind) Zhang Yimou's "The Curse of the Golden Flower," though huge in scale is at it's core an intimate family (albeit a majorly dysfunctional family) drama which unfolds during the Later Tang Dynasty (923-936 AD), a time of corruption, dictatorship and warfare--with a mind-blowing, color-soaked brilliance and an almost insane excess that does over-ripe justice to the passions and intrigues that are raging full throttle inside the palace.

The sinister ensemble cast includes an evil emperor (Chow Yun Fat), his desperate wife (Gong Li), his three wildly contrasting sons and heirs (Liu Ye, Jay Chou and Qin Junjie), the troubled imperial doctor (Ni Dahong) and the doctor's bitter wife (Chen Jin) and naive daughter (Li Man), both of whom have secrets that could destroy an empire.

Though all of the performances are first rate, Gong Li as the pathetic consort to the Emperor and Jay Chou as Prince Jai show us the pain and heartbreak behind all the bravura acting: these are brave performances that not only come from the mind but also from heart and the soul of these performers; a particularly difficult task based on all the grandeur and grandiosity surrounding them.

"The Curse of the Golden Flower" is eye-poppingly gorgeous to look at yet Zhang Yimou nonetheless has managed to, in the midst of the thousands of extras, millions of flowers and opulent and decadent costumes, produce a very thoughtful and tragic drama about a family that can't help but demolish and destroy itself.
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on 13 April 2007
When I saw this film at the cinema, as soon at it was finished, I went straight back to the box office, bought a ticket for the next showing and went straight back in to see it again. It took a real effort of will not to do the same as soon as that showing was over as well. That is how good this film is.

The cast are all, without exception, superb; the shooting and set pieces are breathtaking; every frame of the film is so soaked with colour, so filled with dazzling scenery and costuming that it burns itself indelibly into your mind. The story itself is a rollercoaster ride of pride, passion and politics that invloves from the very beginning, right to the bitter end. This film is a true work of art.
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on 29 August 2007
Good example of the usual epic Chinese film. Much better than banquet which has a similar plot. Acting was good although when I saw this at the cinema at teh cinema in Shenzhen any scene with Jay Jo was followed with laughter from the whole audience as his acting was not so great.

Luckily these films are not being churned out like a production line so there is enough space between this and the last one to make it still stand out form the other hollywood movies around this time of year
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