Like his Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Zhang Yimou's third global-market gigaproduction makes little sense in narrative terms even after two screenings, but the sets, costumes, and cinematography are so intoxicating that it doesn't much matter. Zhang's interest in the wuxia (martial arts) film may well extend no further than the kick he gets out of constructing ostentatious palaces and then watching from behind the lens as they crumble to the ground -- he's a movie director, in other words. As much as Marie Antoinette, Curse of the Golden Flower, set in the Later Tang Dynasty, circa A.D. 928, pits its cloistered melodrama against the riffraff that threatens to penetrate the royal chambers. The film's seemingly endless revelations of double- and triple-crosses fail to excite as much as the sight of black-suited, scythe-twirling assassins swinging on ropes toward the palace like Spider-Man on his web. Zhang's impressively acrobatic battle scene culminates in a torrential CGI spear storm that sets out to blockbust and does -- even by, say, Two Towers standards.
Curse of the Golden Flower