Top positive review
14 people found this helpful
Brilliant, bizarre and beautiful drama; balletic martial arts
on 28 December 2013
The Banquet is a stunner. If you enjoyed the popular martial arts dramas of the last decade (Crouching Tiger, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, etc), then you're almost certain to revel in the beauty, horror, action and extreme emotions of The Banquet.
Don't be put off by the knowledge that it's based around the plot of Hamlet, because you need no knowledge of Shakespeare to enjoy this film. it's also not quite the same story -- and definitely not the same characters! In fact the lead character, torn between ambition, love, desire, hatred and fear isn't the young Prince at all...
You will need to concentrate on the plot to enjoy the fine detail and political intrigue of this Tang Dynasty drama. The Emperor is usurped and his brother takes the throne: the young Crown Prince in is immediate danger (although he can't be killed publicly); the queen must decide whether her future lies with the new Emperor or with her old loyalties, and her old lover.
All this intrigue is set against jaw-dropping backgrounds; scenes of breath-taking beauty and simply stunning action sequences. There are some horribly bloody scenes which serve to underline the brutality of the regieme, while the massed ranks of the court bow and scrape in a corordinated and colourful unison. Everywhere you look on the screen is a riot of intricate detail, much of it with an underlying significance to the plot.
By now you've probably guessed that I really can't praise The Banquet highly enough. It captivated us for two hours, and I'll be happy to watch it again in a couple of months. It's a great shame we couldn't see it at the cinema (all that colour and spectacle would be brilliant on a big screen), but this is a film not to be missed whatever format you can see it in.